Echidna Shrubbery - You Wouldn't Download a Human Connection (Excerpt)
by ReinderDijkhuis
Echidna Shrubbery on stage
I've been threatening to do this for some time: write the actual songs that the bands on stage during the 2021 Dunestock festival were playing. I considered this as a potential project for this year's FAWM - February Album Writing Month, a month-long songwriting challenge where the aim is to write 14 new songs in 28 days.
Initially, I decided to go for another concept that I was interested in: writing songs about life on an off-grid farm in Portugal, where I am spending this winter. And for a while this went smoothly. But then technical problems and a nasty cold laid me low. So as we entered the final week of February with me having no new real-world things to write about, and no voice to sing songs with in even a slightly passable manner, I decided to revisit the Dunestock concept and at least write some lyrics for those ridiculous bands. The first one I tackled was Echidna Shrubbery, who appeared in Comic no. 41.

I posted their song "You Wouldn't Download A Human Connection (Excerpt) on My FAWM account but since the organization clears out the songs each year after the event is done, I'm reproducing the lyrics and my comments here.

Liner Notes

Somewhere in the middle of the festival's bill, we find Echidna Shrubbery, a modern prog-rock band. Their half-hour slot was filled by a single song, of which these lyrics are a brief excerpt. When main songwriter Will Stephenson contemplates our technology-and-media-driven society, he doesn't like it much. His heart is in the right place but the analysis that underlies his lyrics comes out surprisingly facile and reactionary.

So with that idea in mind, I spent an hour this afternoon practicing a bass riff in 7/4 time. I did not record any instrumental parts but kept my brain in that groove to write the lyrics below.


Upload /a visceral experience
Oh no, you couldn’t do that
Download / a humanoid connection
No way / you wouldn’t do that

Your phone is giving you ADHD
Which you cannot hold in your hands
Hardware cannot be truly digitized
Or made to bend to your commands

The internet is evil because none of you can hug it
No need to ask about the structural constraints
Don’t talk to me of corporatism, there’s no explanation offered
You can’t punch corporations in the face

iPads are stealing your humanity
The metaverse just puts it up for sale
Blockchain, is nothing but inanity
YouTube Will make you weak and pale

Pick up a bass guitar and go to town
Touch grass and put it all on tape
Touch skin and take disinformation down
Touch base and ponder your escape

Technology is evil and is building a panopticon
It’s hubris, nemesis and telos
There is no man behind the curtain pulling strings
There’s just the curtain here to sell us.
30 Days of Characters
by ReinderDijkhuis
I took part in 30 Days of Characters last month, and some of the character designs I came up with were intended for Greyfriar's Isle. So prepare to see the following characters in the comic this year:

Apple-faced lady
The Apple-faced Lady. You may have seen her already during the Beach Cleanup storyline but this is an attempt to settle on her design. I don't know her name, just like I don't know the name of the real person she's based on, who I see walking her dog from time to time. She's always friendly towards me and my dogs.
I'm trying to create elderly characters without relying too much on stereotypes of old age. This woman does not wear her hair in a bun or a perm, does not wear thick glasses on the reg and does not use a cane.
The Wholesaler
This guy will turn up really soon. He is a wholesaler on Greyfriar's Isle. He is not particularly good at his job, so he's usually out of items other people on the island need. That's… pretty much all there is to him! The image I had in my head before I drew him reminded me of an existing comic character from someone else, but I couldn't remember who until I actually started this drawing. I now think it's Boerke/Dickie by Belgian artist Pieter de Poortere. So next time I draw him, I will know what to move away from.
Hardware Store Girl
I don't know when this character will turn up.I first drew this character while trying out designs for Meya Middleman. The look wasn't right for the characters I was working on at the time but she got a good response from people who saw the exploratory sketches so I thought she might work as someone else. At the time, I thought of her as Farm Girl but that's not quite right. While she is available for contract work on farms, harvesting potatoes if an extra machine operator is needed, her main work is in a hardware and DIY store on Greyfriar's Isle. Unlike the Wholesaler, she is helpful, efficient and effective so if the plot calls for a job to be done without problems, this is the NPC you need. She is a cousin of Mycelia Spoor, who runs a small private museum on the same island, and they are sometimes seen together outside work situations.
Tippe Middelman
I wasn't happy with how Tippe Middleman looked in the Beach Cleanup storyline; I wasn't getting her facial features right consistently, and her dress style didn't fit the high-strung personality she developed when I started writing for her. So in this revised design, she's gone from having pink, loose-fitting, pajamas-like jogging gear to a more form-fitting athleisure style.
Tippe Middleman is the co-owner of a luxury campsite on Greyfriar's Isle with her husband. Originally focused on clients into outdoor activities such as birdwatching, the owners' interest in fitness has resulted in the development of an advanced gym on the campsite premises, complete with a personal trainer who comes in from the mainland several times a week, and the place now effectively doubles as a fitness center. Tippe and her husband have learned the hard way to balance competitiveness with a high-quality service but this has made them very stressed out and Tippe in particular is prone to impulsive decisions and fits of anger as a result.
This pose was harder than it looked because the action lines are ambiguous. Must think of some alternatives for when she's doing the Karen strut. (Maybe pull that left arm outward a little more so the hand is not across her torso, dum-dum!)
Eisso Klop
Eisso Klop is the last person in the country to bear the title of Postmaster, at least officially. Greyfriar's Isle has had its own postal system since the 19th century. For much of that time, the title of Postmaster was just a fancy local affectation but in the era of modern delivery companies, it has ironically become meaningful, because all the modern delivery companies stop at the ferry. From there on, it's up to the Greyfriar's Isle Postal Service's only employee to make sure that letters and parcels actually get there in time. So for the time being, the combination of life under COVID lockdown and the ongoing contracts with the likes of Amazin', Deets-L, Marktsplat and have kept Mr. Klop very busy and well-funded. Nevertheless, policy makers on the island expect that the title of Postmaster will be retired with Mr. Klop, whenever that happens.
Mr. Klop himself is only about 30 years old and very fit especially considering he's never seen the inside of a gym in his life. He has an efficient energy in his movements, but often appears world-weary and older than his years when he calms down. One day when he'd had a little too much Beerenburg, he talked at length about his belief in reincarnation and mentioned that he thought he'd lived hundreds of mostly ordinary lives, and a handful of truly epic ones.
The Personal Trainer
The personal trainer at the Middlemans' textile campsite, who may or may not be featured in a story.