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December 22, 2022 | Costello

LFG Fan Profile: Michael Ruic

With the comic on hiatus until December 26th, we’re interviewing readers about how they got into Looking For Group and what they like about it. We also give them a chance to ask us questions back. Is it blatant fan service? Yes. And no one services their fans like LFG!

Today’s reader played a major role in how we present the blog, suggesting that we let fans ask us questions back.

Meet Michael

First, I’m glad to see you took my suggestion from Facebook. The fan interaction on social media as of late I think has been a great thing and I think responsible for the uptick in people rediscovering LFG.
As for myself, I’ve been reading LFG since page 65. I discovered LFG from an advertisement on 8bit Theater (RIP) that featured Richard turning the sand dragons into glass. I checked the comic out and found the last panel of Richard’s self crucifixion to be hilarious. And I’ve been along for the ride ever since. Longest breaks I’ve ever taken have been two or three weeks before getting caught back up.

Michael Ruic

Our Questions For Michael

Based on my suggestion, I asked Michael some questions.

Costello: Michael Ruic… Michael. Ruic. That name sounds familiar. Remind me how I know you.

Michael: Well, I have been loosely posting with LFG since the forums way back in the day and loosely so on Facebook as well. Could know my name from easy back then.

Though maybe it’s my last name you recognize, as my late uncle was quite infamous locally (favorite story being him working with a local news station in regards to tax fraud because of a loophole in Ohio law for qualifying as a religion/church (at the time took 50 dollars and twelve followers)).

C: Speaking of Michael Ruic, your e-mail lists you as a Lord. What are you Lord of, your highness?

M: In regards to my uncle, my father was a high priest of the church my uncle made for that investigation. As such, my father was bestowed the right to grant the titles of lord/lady to those he deemed worthy per ‘the church’ as well as legally marry people. Well the investigation Church has been closed for the better part of 30 or 40 years, my dad still revels in the fact that for a few years he was able to legally marry people and bestow Lord and Lady titles.

C: Page 65 was right in the middle of an arc. If it was your first page, what was your second page?

M: The first page. After getting that good laugh from Richard’s self crucifixion, I had to go back and start from the beginning.

C: Thanks for noticing the increased engagement on social media. Anything else you’d like to see in that department?

M: I’m quite happy in regards to the fan interactions current state. Perhaps maybe a monthly AMA could be a fun way to promote interaction.

C: LFG changed a lot over the years. Is there an era (however you define that) that stands out to you more?

M: So, broad stroke, the full story up until the defeat of the Archmage was fantastic. In truth, if the time was put in, I believe it could easily be converted into a fantastic D&D campaign. (Subtle hint for merchandising idea)

Tightened focus: the unification of the North for the war against Legaria. I’m a sucker for stories of countries/tribes putting aside their differences and uniting to fight a greater evil.

Specific page: page 576. I read this page in my early 30s and it hit. Hard. Like hard enough for me to reevaluate my life and change jobs, loose 100 lbs, and get to a point in my life where I could buy a house.

C: Is there a character you’d like to see return or explored further? Based on the 90s property referenced in your e-mail, I assume Assaracus.

M: Funny you should mention Assaracus. My druid in D&D uses wildshapes that are flavored to be hybrid creatures. Also, resisting going off on a tangent about how Animorphs ended. Points to you for recognizing the book though.

But the character I would like to see return is Tah’vraay. I’ve always felt she had great potential as a character and ocean based adventures.

C: What are some highlights of being an LFG fan? How have you engaged with the community and expressed your fandom?

M: Back in the forum days, I posted semi regularly. On FB, a bit less but still poke my head in to read comments and sometimes make my own.

C: Let’s say you’re reading Looking For Group one day and a friend asks “Ooh, what’s that?” How do you sell them on LFG?

M: I would turn to YouTube actually. The LFG videos are a great representation to the humor in the comic in an easily consumable medium. If they enjoy it, then guide them to the comic.

C: You know that old lamp you bought at the antique shop? Ends up, genie! You get three wishes, but they must all be LFG related. What do you wish for?

M: Wish one: redo the timing of the comics to Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Wish two: With Wednesday bringing back NPC or Little Dick Adventures.

Wish three: When LFG comes to an end one day, that it successfully sticks the landing and not end on a cliffhanger like Animorphs. Seriously. I bought and still own every book. And she has the gall to end it on a cliffhanger. And then… AND THEN… When fans had the audacity to disagree with the ending, she put out a blog going on a tirade on how their opinions didn’t matter because she wanted it to end on a ham fisted message about war leading into war.

Sorry. Sorry. I’m still pissed about that ending. It’s just like Game of Thrones. Great well written and thought provoking story with a rushed dumpster fire ending. 

Michael’s Questions For Us

Based on Michael’s suggestion, Michael asked me some questions.

Michael: I’ve always felt the Monday/Thursday schedule was a bit odd. Has there been any thought of changing it?

Costello: No plan to change it. Two days a week, three/four days apart is a good combination of giving Lar and Ed enough time to illustrate and colour two pages, and sets a good pace to progress the story.

M: Is there any thought/discussion on bringing back NPC/LDA? (Yes, the first two questions are based off of the wishes haha)

C: Sadly, having content five days a week didn’t increase engagement enough, and the collected books didn’t sell well, so bringing back NPC and TDA (he was Tiny, not Little) would cost us money they wouldn’t recoup.

It’s a shame, too. I enjoyed a lot of NPC arcs, especially stuff like Candor With Landor that played with tone and presentation.

M: I won’t go after the movie, but why haven’t there been more animated shorts for LFG? Last one was a Richard redesign three years ago and nothing since.

C: For similar reasons as why NPC and TDA ended. They cost more money than they make. It’s not a fun answer, but it’s the truth.

M: After the defeat of the Archmage, a lot of people (myself included) felt the plot lost focus or was being made up on the fly. What was done to correct this and also to prevent it again in the future?

C: I thought it lost focus much earlier, after the death of Krunch and defeat of Tavor. The group returns to Kethenecia, all worried about how The Legion Retaliated. But nothing happened The next issue, Cale even admits that he doesn’t have anything to do.

The lead up to the death of Krunch had a sense of urgency and brisk pace. And I loved the flashback to how Tavor survived and became king. But I felt Tavor’s return resolved too quickly, especially as the villain who killed a main character. Then, the next few issues lacked the focus I liked.

As for what was done to prevent this: one of my goals when I took over as writer was to plan out story arcs first, figure out gags later. I’m not sure how evident it’s been (especially since basically every Fan Profile I’ve done seems to think Sohmer’s still writing), but since I took over in issues 58, I’ve written the story arcs entirely before sending them to Lar for art. This has allowed me to go back and add setups for later payoffs. Also, it forces me to think about where I want to be in 5 or 10 pages, then work towards that goal with every page.

The other change I made was the return of Tavor. I didn’t want to undo anything established, but I also wanted at least one of the series’ main villains (Tavor, Aelloon, or Archmage) to return. Of the three, I could undo Tavor’s in a way that adds to the story, rather than erases part of it.

M: What do you believe the best/worst arcs of LFG and what specifically made them the best/worst?

C: Best: I think the first three issues do an amazing job of setting up the characters, the world, and the plot. Issue 1 is more fun, but the world building in issue 2 and issue 3 elevate the comic from fantasy satire to epic fantasy in its own right, with a satirical tone.

My favourite moment in the whole comic comes at the climactic battle in issue 3. Cale says “With Me”, cringes at his own naive optimism, then realizes that the group has started to take him seriously as the leader. I love it so much because the comic earned it.

Worst: Issue 14 and issue 15. I know I said the lead up to Krunch’s death had a brisk pace and sense of purpose, but I really didn’t like this detour into the desert (again) and underground (again), with sand worms and imps. Some combination of it taking too long, moving too slowly, diverting from the plot, and the jokes not landing for me, added up to an arc I couldn’t wait to see end.

M: Do we know Sooba or do we only think we do?

C: Even if we say we know Sooba, really, we only think we know her.

Thanks Michael!

If you would like to participate in a future LFG Fan Profile, send an e-mail to costello[at]laughingdragon[dot]studio with a brief introduction. If we pick you, we’ll go back and forth with a few rounds of questions. Then, you’ll get to ask me questions of your own. All of which I’ll turn into a blog post for the community to enjoy.