So I’ve often sat back and wondered while making the comic how often I do certain jokes, or star certain players, or how many times I kill people. I was going to do it at comic #200 but gave up and held onto the idea for comic #300. So Yesterday, happily at comic 301, I decided to sit down, open a spread sheet, type in a bunch of data, and go through every comic marking off every instance of certain things. This is an analysis of those results.
The biggest thing I was curious to find out was what teams got the most love, and which teams have I unknowingly kind of neglected. That way I’d know for the future, and could make a concentrated effort to think about those teams when scrounging for ideas. To figure out this data I needed to figure out how to determine a comic’s subject. Most DP comics are not about teams, but players. But if I didn’t count comics that featured players, I’d be ignoring a lot of teams. Ultimately I decided that I would only count comics where the Player in the comic could be used as a representation of their team in a way. Examples- in this Jay Cutler comic, it’s pretty much only about Jay Cutler the person, it has nothing to do with the Bears. But in my Dont Care Bear comics, they frequently play into how he doesn’t care about the success of the “Bears”, and the comic has more to do with his team. The first comic does not count as a Bears comic, despite having a Bears player. The second does. I had to go through each comic and make this distinction. I had to consider the subject of the comic. By doing this things changed significantly and it really let me know who was being neglected in certain ways. Some interesting finds:
The Raiders have almost no comics featuring players, and only 6 comics, but those comics are all about the Raiders. The Cardinals only have 4 comics about them, but all 4 comics are very much about the Cardinals. However, the Chargers actually have Zero comics about them. The only time the Chargers have been included in any way is during the Ringless Rivers comics. I felt those comics were more about Rivers himself than the Chargers, but the Chargers only get love in the comic when it’s Rivers related. I should probably fix that. Two other teams are arguably less represented. The Dolphins have only a couple comics about the Richie Incognito situation (Which to me didn’t count) and a comic with the Jaded Bitter Fan that I really could have used any number of teams for. I didn’t realize just how little love I’ve given the Dolphins. The Vikings are on the same level. There has been no real comic about the Vikings. Technically the Titans have more comics about them than all 3, and both of those comics are about how nobody cares about the Titans. So I gotta fix that if I can.
As for most frequent teams, It came as no surprise to see the Jets up there. I mock the Jets and Rex Ryan a lot, and for my first year the Jets were the “disaster team” of the league, similar to the Bears now. I also wasn’t surprised to see the Browns up there, I have some Cleveland ties and a soft spot for perpetual underdogs, plus I gave them Sadness Week. The NFC East as a whole is my “division”, so all 4 teams had great representation because those teams are closer to me.
As for Players/People featured, I knew Eli would be high because I love Eli but he blew everyone else away. He’s appeared (Any Appearance counts in this category) 19 times. The next closest is naturally Sean Payton, my early crush. After him we have Big Ben and Peyton. Then lots of players start evening out. Rex Ryan was easily the most seen coach, Jim Harbaugh was the only one close to him. Johnny Manziel is already at 10, so he’s making a big go at it. I also apparently love me some Flacco.
30 People have died within my pages. Only 14 have been directly pictured onscreen. 9 of those are suicides, and most of those are Philip Rivers. Nobody has died more than once except Schaub and Rivers. Interestingly enough, I’ve never killed more than 1 person per comic. No mass deaths yet.
The Cameos number of 86 seems astoundingly high. I’ve drawn friends and people I know in the comic (This number includes girlfriend appearances as well) and lots of Something Awful Goons, who have graciously offered me pictures of themselves to get little moments in the comic. I’ve killed 4 of them. This number of 86 seems really high, but I counted each instance separately, and many folks have appeared more than once, and I’ve had several comics where I stick in 4-5 Cameos all at once, so it’s not as ridiculous as it first appears. If you see a background character appear in more than one comic, like “Tank Dolphins Fan“, it likely means I’m mocking someone in particular. By the way, Tank DolFan is the guy behind Football and Rational Thoughts, a good little football humor blog written by SA Goons. You might recognize the art style of the site’s banner.
If you are reading this and going “HEY! I didn’t know he was giving cameos, I want a cameo!” I’ll post something about getting that next week.
Pop Culture References are something I try to not use too often, because I realize that oftentimes the reference becomes the joke itself. I’ve fallen victim to that a few times, but I mostly try to use references to make a genuine joke that isn’t just a nod and wink to the material. 37 seems like a high number, but many of my references aren’t full comics, but little snippits of jokes. Also, they range from references to classic literature to 90′s commercials, so it’s a wide range. I’m still iffy on using them, but a good reference can still be funny if played right, so no reason to stop as long as I don’t get Family Guy lazy about it.
I’ve drawn myself 27 times. I’m always a little worried if drawing myself is too self indulgent, but often times I’m using my likeness to convey a point about fandom and it’s just easier to place myself in that spot because I am a fan and in many ways TDP is a comic about football from a fandom perspective. This isn’t an Xs and Os comic, it’s a comic that focuses more on the culture and entertainment aspect to the sport. So I could draw random people, or I could inject myself in there and get a laugh at my own expense. Honestly, I think one of the best comics I ever made was about fan bias, represented by my hatred of the Eagles. The comic used my hatred of Philly as the example, but I think most people can relate to it because everyone has that one team that they hate more than Hitler.
I counted every appearance by an actual player/personality/coach/owner I drew. That included single panels of someone in the background. If I could read their number, they were officially “in the comic”. I’m at 211. That means just over 2/3rds of every comic I draw has a new person in it. I’m proud of that ratio, I’d rather not focus on the stars too much. Eli has the most at 19, but 19 out of 301 really isn’t bad. Around comic 100 I had a 10% Sean Payton ratio and the comic has moved on since. I like having recurring gags like Johnny and the King, or Ringless Rivers, Don’t Care Bear, etc, especially because these sort of ”character” or “franchise” comics seem to always get a lot of love when I do them (people love the character ideas, and people love continuity), but I feel the joke wear thin fast on my end and I’d rather not over saturate for too long. Right now everyone keeps asking me for Dont Care Bear comics, but how many times can I draw Jay Cutler as a care bear not caring before it stops being funny? The last one on Thursday already felt forced to me. I try to space them out a bit and it helps, but there is a reason I made a big 3-day ending saga to Ringless Rivers and why Sean Payton isn’t a big deal anymore. I can certainly resurrect them, but I’d rather the joke breathe between takes. I’m glad you guys like these ideas, but I’m going to draw what I want to draw at my own pace.
Lastly, I’d like to open the floor to you guys. What sort of trends to you notice? What sort of teams and players do you want to see more of? The Offseason is coming up, and the time for experimentation along with it, so let me know your thoughts.