A Navel-Gazing Origin Story (as opposed to a Naval-Gazing Orange Storey)

Big Henry in "Mentholated marching powder up the nose":

I just ran across a few of these "Big Henry" comic strips I created for the original Celebrity Cola back in the day (yes, I was obviously under the influence of Max Cannon's RED MEAT at the time).

For the uninitiated, Celebrity Cola began as a fake news-type website that lampooned celebrity culture and political hype. It was kinda like the old National Lampoon Magazine meets The Onion meets The National Enquirer. It also satirically poked fun at worshipful celebrity websites and fansites, for the amusement of our few dedicated readers. And, for better or worse (but probably worse), it had an entirely sophomoric, sex-based sense of humor, with lots of images of scantily clad women that we didn’t actually have the copyright permission to use (but, dang, they was hot).

I was the editor and primary writer of the site, which was part of the larger (and far more noble) RoboFilms.com enterprise. When RoboFilms went belly-up, Celebrity Cola lost its server and disappeared from the Internet... and none of us felt inspired to find a new home for it (nor did anyone offer – there were some decent jokes, gags, and graphics on the site, but nothing worthy of the hundreds of hours we’d put into it or the cost of web-hosting and domain-owning and upkeep).

RoboFilms.com, on the other hand, was a great site -- it was briefly a hot property acclaimed by the likes of USA Today, and it got some nice recognition for it's sleek, simple design and the super-indie-minded nature of it's films. (Essentially, RoboFilms was intended as DIY alternative to "the man," e.g., AtomFilms.com or iFilm.com, and showcased experimental indie shorts, avant-garde comedies, politically progressive material, and some of the early work of the most-excellent Homestarrunner.com guys).

However, with no profit-scheme in place, we eventually ran out of cash and couldn't afford to host the site ad-free any longer. (Streaming high-quality short films to thousands of people gets expensive, and updating and improving the site was incredibly time-consuming. And there were also plenty of backroom shenanigans and power struggles and fishy investors lurking about, but that’s another story for another time).

So the UGO network kindly took us on, offering to cover our server and domain costs and provide marketing (while promptly demoralizing us by dominating a 6th of our layout with cheesy ads). But even with tens of thousands of visitors, we still weren't generating enough ad-clicks to satisfy Ugo, and none of us ever really saw a dime (and we were tired and restless and bored and poor and our once tight-knit group was spreading across the country as unfocused artsy-types are wont to do). So, eventually, Ugo.com swallowed up our domains and we all sauntered off toward other pursuits.

When I decided to start this blog, I thought I'd call it "Celebrity Cola" as an inside joke. But these "Big Henry" comix are still chuckle-worthy, IMHO, so I thought I'd go ahead and post a few.

Whatevah, right?

Historical note: The only old-school Celebrity Cola story still online is located at, of all things, the website of a company that sells shoe lifts. ShoeLift.com apparently thought that a parody I wrote was a legit news item, so they picked up the story -- and still have it running as one of their top news articles to this day. They've entitled the fake article "TOM CRUISE WEARS SHOELIFTS!!!!!!" (Personally, I think it's awesome that they stole my text, which describes how Cruise is suffering from a rare disease that makes him shorter by the year.)

Later, my work on the original Celebrity Cola came full circle when I was hired to do some legit field reporting regarding Nicole Kidman for the The National Enquirer. Oh, the irony...


For a look at my other surviving "Big Henry" comic strips, visit:

Comix: Big Henry & Baghead Bob Joyfully Asphyxiate the Bourgeois.

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