The original purpose of Mel Everyman and His Sarcastic Talking Housepet Ambrose--often called Melbrose Place for short, or simply Mel & Ambrose--was to parody the lame, contrived, Mary Sue style that almost every comic strip takes these days. It seems obligatory almost that to make a comic one simply draws a crude likeness of themself, with all their problems and foibles, wishes and aspirations, and then adds, as an afterthought, some sassy little character representative of either their pure id or their pure reason. This character is, for God knows what reason, almost always a talking animal--and when he is not, he is at least something anthropomorphosized. That is because this character is necessary to create the dialectic by which all of the philosophical resolutions and scarce, uninspired punchlines can be attained. If it were just some Mary Sue of the author talking to the reader (or worse, to himself) for a few panels each day it is likely nobody would bother to read it. The exception seems to be Cathy, although the reasons why anyone reads that are a mystery to me.
And so, in 2002, having tried in vain to find more than a handful of webcomics that didn't, for lack of a better phrase, "suck ass," I decided to create a comic strip of my own to parody these trite pieces of crap. Using ColonD, a lame internet magazine I formerly founded and edited, as the platform, I enlisted the artistic help of my brother in bringing Mel and Ambrose into reality. The names Mel and Ambrose mean nothing and were quite arbitrarily chosen, though I noticed once a few months ago that rather coincidentally they share the same first initial as myself and my brother. The last name of Everyman was a more subtle joke aimed at one of worst Mary Sue comics I have ever read called Joe Average. Whether he realized it or not, his character's name pretty much epitomized the subconscious effect of most of these comics: to make the protagonist seem not only as the embodiment of what the author sees himself as, but also as the embodiment of everyone who reads it. Thus I knew what my first challenge was: to simultaneously make a character who seems like just another guy, yet at the same time to only reflect in that person the undesirable, disgusting qualities that we all deny having, but take a secret pleasure in having affirmed for us by others.
The character of Mel Everyman is actually a non-copyright infringing composite of Jon Arbuckle and Dilbert, who, aside from Charlie Brown, Monty, and Calvin, are perhaps the most notorious users of this style. It may be said fairly that Garfield and Peanuts were the founders of this style, so I do not judge them very harshly. Likewise, I don't really hate any of the comics which exhibit this overused premise, merely the fact that it seems second nature for so many people to (mis)use it.
As for Ambrose, I just figured it would be too hard to distinguish my comic from those that I was making fun of if I made him an animal. So I thought: if the concept is to give human characteristics to something one doesn't associate them with, such as an animal or an inanimate object, how can I take this to the opposite extreme? What is the most inanimate, abstract thing I can think of, one that would make absolutely no sense to give a personality? What could be better than a polygon with some squiggles remotely resembling an ass for a face? Maybe an antenna or something coming out the top for absolutely no reason.
Two problems arose when I brought Mel and Ambrose back in 2004. One: it had pretty much outlived its purpose and exists after that for no reason other than the sake of existing and wasting space. (Food for thought: in a sense, webcomics then are like political parties, religious institutions, and bureaucratic administrations.) The second problem was that, around late July, Aaron quit drawing the comic. This was not altogether a surprise: it's hard to find anything Aaron ever sticks with for very long. Once I suggested that he look for half a job in half an office, where they give him half a desk and he is only required to do 50% of the artwork in any project. However, it meant that, after five years of not drawing (at least not on paper), I was required to not only do the art for the comic but to imitate the style he was drawing it in. Since, as far as I know, nobody has noticed the change until I have told them where to look, I consider it a job well done. I keep Aaron's name in the credits to leave the option open to him to come back if he ever wants to and thus take some of the burden off of me, and also because I am too lazy to go back and write his name on each individual comic that he did.
To contact me you can send an email to mib81 at lycos dot com. Aaron's email is aaronboto at yahoo dot com.
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