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Artist Greg Dean is the creator of the popular online comic Real Life, which has been running since 1999, around the dawn of the webcomic age, and has won numerous times for best reality comic as part of the Web Cartoonists Choice Awards.


Greg has generously decided to share his popular Nerd-Rage Activated design with Urban Threads, so we can all geek out a little. It's available in machine embroidery and hand embroidery formats.

Tell us a bit about your background -- what started your comic? How did you get into art?

Well, my interest in art in general goes a long way back before the comic -- sometime around first or second grade, I started copying drawings I liked - usually just by visual reference. It wasn't until much, much older before I realized that just about every artist uses some kind of visual reference or another. The whole intervening time, I thought all art sprung forth from an artist's mind fully formed with no outside influence, so I never really considered myself "artistic." It's still debatable.

TThe comic goes back to 1999 -- I'd just moved out of the house in with some friends of mine, and one day while hanging out just being us, I realized that a lot of our in-jokes could actually be funny to someone just beyond our circle of friends. All the characters in the comic are based on real people, (loosely, in some cases) which might seem pretty passe nowadays, but back in '99, almost nobody had an online comic like that. It helped that there were so few around back then, I suppose.


Tell us a bit about your design and the story behind it.

"Nerd Rage" comes from Aug. 26, 2010's comic where my character gets so furious with a game company's proposed experience system that he goes into a sort of superpowered nerd-fueled attack mode ... which consists largely of impotently typing out a message on a forum somewhere. It's the equivalent of when Prince Adam calls upon the power of Greyskull to become He-Man... except much, much less useful. (There is, by the way, a reverse transformation known as "Nerd Apathy.")


What inspires your work?

Mostly, the comic just comes from living my life. It's kind of like my blog. People used to ask why I never really got into blogging, and mostly it's because I was able to get my thoughts of the day out in a humorous four-panel comic, rather than a lengthy journal post. Ever since the birth of my daughter, she's given me all kinds of comic fodder, so it comes from just about everywhere. Even this site, as a matter of fact -- Steampunk Bacon Cat made an appearance this year!

What’s your studio/workspace like?

AAPPALLING. I keep meaning to clean it up, and even have a plan for a built-in custom desk that I'm going to build someday, but for now I have a 10-year old piece of junk Wal-Mart corner desk that somehow manages to stay in one piece, and I'm surrounded on every flat surface by empty soda cans and mountains of stratified papers dating back a year or two. I've got various bits of geek paraphernalia adorning just about every blank square inch of wall, (Including a 3'x5' print of the Ultima Online artwork by Tim & Greg Hildebrandt that I'm particularly fond of) and ... let's be honest, probably a few living organisms somewhere or another. As much as I want to get things straightened out in here, I worry about two things - one, that the particular arrangement of detritus is somehow giving me a comic feng-shui that helps keep me inspired... and two, that if I start moving too many things, a native creature might devour me. Neither of those sound too great.


What’s your favorite handmade craft you’ve ever made?

Ooooh, tough call. I used to be really into making chainmaille, but it requires a pretty substantial financial investment to get going, and since a single hauberk can take 7 or 8 months to weave, it's been a long time since I've been behind a set of pliers doing that. Lately, my obsession (appropriately) has been designing my own machine embroidery patterns. I mostly work as a support crew to my wife, who takes the embroidery designs and sticks them on cloth diapers, patches and other such things that we'll be selling on Etsy, but every now and again I get a hankering to make things that are really just for me. Once I get some free time, I plan on making up a set of patches from my Star Trek Online fleet.

Finally, if you were a Crayola color, what color would you be?

I will admit to needing to pull up a reference of all Crayola colors to study, but once I hit "Outer Space," I knew that would be my color. First off, it's OUTER SPACE. The best kind of space. Inner space is much less interesting, although it does contain slightly more Dennis Quaid. Secondly, it's so inaccurately named, it's awesome -- outer space, by just about any definition, would be black. I mean, if you average it out, it's mostly NOTHINGNESS. But "Outer Space" according to Crayola is actually a greenish grey. It makes so little sense that I identify with it immediately.


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