June 13 , 2011
It's always nice to know that you've made a difference.


A few days ago, I learned that my last post helped someone.

Dear Mark,

Thank you for posting what you did about Freelance Writing Center. I did the same thing as you--sending in a careful application, taking the exam--and was put off by the request for what looked like a term paper. So I sent the badly written (yes, and did you see how badly written that essay request was?) essay request to my professor husband whose response was akin to "OMG". After reading your post and doing a little more research, I just sent back to the administrator at FWC a note about ethical practices, their own bad writing (they had two typos on the test), and that unless they could provide assurances, I wasn't interested. I told them I did not need to submit a research paper for consideration because any thorough review of the links on my resume would have answered that.

I imagine that I will be told much what you were--not being a right fit.

Currently I freelance for Mometrix, a test preparation company. The low pay is killing me and work is slow right now, but at least they are ethical. In my search for more freelance work, I was completely put off to discover that FWC and others aren't what I thought. Demand Studios rejected me for both writing and copy-editorial work. Gosh, I had my hopes up.

I blog here. I will likely be posting a review of FWC myself.

Thanks again for your heads up. Oh, and keep me in the loop for decent work?


Laura and I spoke a few more times, and she gave me permission to post this email. Having read a bit of her published material, I'd say it's worth a read, so go ahead and click on the link. She had a bit more to say to them than I did, and sent their response to me. It made me chuckle:

"Dear Laura
We are not forcing you to take any tests. However, that is a mandatory step in the application process. We are sorry that you are taking advice from an applicant who has never even worked for our organization. We do not need to beg applicants to complete exams. Given your message and the fact that you want your name publicly displayed indicates that you are not a right fit for our organization. We are a ghostwriting service. "A ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person."
Given that you feel that this is unethical, we wish you the best of luck with other opportunities."

Ummm, yeah. Screw them. No mention of turning in academic papers for wrongful credit is addressed, defended, or denied here.


Here are my thoughts on this company, good readers.
#1: If it's going to be required of you, they'll say it plain. It will be published in the step-by-step instructions. The only reason to have a mandatory step that's not published is to hide something.

#2: When a company is based on the written word, and making sure their clientele get quality, their communications, especially their permanent ones (tests, instructions to applicants), shouldn't be riddled with eye-bleeding errors.

#3: When an organization is called on their bad behaviour, their response generally depends on how they were called on it. If they're called out in public, they generally release a public statement either explaining, apologizing, or denying. If they're chastised in private, by an individual that doesn't work for them, never has, and quite obviously never will, here's what a legitimate organization will do: nothing.

If I run a company, and I feel my business practices are legitimate, I don't care enough about Joe Shmoe's opinion to respond to it.

#4: Check out their website for this one: the target market. On the other websites I named to Laura, the message goes both ways, to both client and contractor. They try to appeal to both by saying to each that the other can be found there.

The only people this organization seems to be talking to are freelancers, and they talk about themselves in glowing terms. "A Freelancer Speaks." A Freelancer tells other freelancers that success came so quickly, and it was so satisfying. The message: You too can have this success.

All you have to do is written here in four easy steps.

Oh, and just one more thing...


April 15, 2011
More crooks, anyone?


So I’ve been looking at freelance websites, looking for more writing and editing work online. The one I’m going to talk about now is http://freelancewritingcenter.com. Once you create your account with them, they give you a couple of steps to follow before you can get work through them:

Step 1: Check your profile
Step 2: Upload application files
Step 3: Complete the mandatory English exam
Step 4: Stay in touch

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? So I followed these simple steps, and waited patiently—and by waited patiently, I mean I kept looking in as many places as possible for work while they either did or did not get their shit together. After about three weeks, I contacted them. Here’s the conversation:

"I've joined, I've taken the grammar exam, I'd like to know what happens next. How do I apply for or receive jobs? It's been a while since I read through it, would you remind me how I get paid, and how you get paid? Is it per job? What incentive is there on your side to provide me with work?"

"Dear Mark
Yes, you did pass the grammar exam but we also require that you complete a test essay if you are still interested.

If you pass, you do get paid per project via paypal, wire or payoneer. We are a flexible organization with a great bonus program for motivated employees. If interested please complete the test essay.

The next step in the application process is to provide a test essay due no later than April 24th 2011. Instructions are: Explain why you think immigration is one aspect of society that you think will experience the greatest amount of social change over the next ten years and explain why you think this is the case. You may NOT use Wikipedia, any encyclopedia or any dictionary as a source for this paper. You must research this topic and express your view on how this social institution/ phenomenon will change over the next ten years. Make sure you answer the following questions and include the following information What is changing? How much, how fast, and in what direction? What are the engines driving change? What data is there to demonstrate that this change is likely to continue and is occurring? Why do you believe this topic will experience more social change than other areas/topics in the next ten years? Which theory of social change (functionalist, conflict or symbolic interaction) best explains this change and why? Please make sure it is 2 pages, double spaced in Times New Roman Font, with 3 sources in APA format. Thankyou"

I had another look at their Step 3, and this is exactly what it says:

The English examination should be completed on-line in one session meaning that you cannot stop during taking the test and continue afterwards. The exam normally takes 30-40 minutes to complete.

Anybody else see the problem here? I mean, other than the fact that they didn't answer any of my very basic questions?

"As much as I can appreciate the sense of these requirements, and I am not refusing to complete this test essay, I have some concerns.

The first is that nowhere in my account, where I am given step-by-step instructions on how to proceed, does it say anything about a test essay. It specifically states that I must complete the exam, that it will take 30-40 minutes, but there is no mention of an essay.

The second is that in order to learn about the essay, I had to reach out to you. Had I not asked the question, what guarantee do I have that I would have even known about the essay before April 24th?

And why April 24th? A Sunday most of the way through April seems rather arbitrary to me, especially since I took the grammar exam in early March. As we're now in April, I think any reasonable deadline would have already passed.

Lastly, that's a very specific topic for a test essay. It reads more like a job to me, but when given as a test essay, it's a job I wouldn't be paid for. Where would that essay go, and who would have ownership of it?

So that I can be certain this is all on the level, I will need your name, as well as the name or names of the person/people in charge of freelancewritingcenter.com, and a telephone number and complete mailing address of the main office, so that I can more thoroughly research the company, to satisfy myself that I am simply being unreasonably wary.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Mark Mallon"

"Dear Mark
Given your last message, we really do not feel that you are the right fit for our organization. Best of luck."

No kidding. Have you ever actually paid anyone?


April 4, 2011
And, so the streak is broken.


Well, here's another Avatars. Trust me when I say that the delays in my updates are worth while. I've been developing something new. Well, actually, something old but revitalized. Keep checking in. When I have a better idea of when my current developement will be ready, I'll give some move detailed news about it.


Feb 27, 2011
Two in a row!!


Not only did I just manage to get two Avatars strips done in the same month, I just did two in two days! I am so proud of me! Here's Avatars #79.


Feb 26, 2011
Checking In


Been lazy for the first part of the new year, then I've been busy.

Now, I have Avatars #78 up.


Dec 20, 2010
Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus


Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus.

All work and no play...

So I play. Here's Avatars #77.


Nov 23, 2010


I'm doing some work. But when I break - Avatars #76.


Oct 23, 2010
I am such a geek; Addendum


Turns out I was wrong. You can prevent your pokemon from evolving in pokemon platinum. I just have to press Y while it is starting to change and it will interupt and cancel the evolution. I discovered this by accident when my Luxio tried to change. But I'm sure I'm the only one who cares.

Moving on...

Avatars Filler #12.


Sept 24, 2010
I am such a geek.


I didn't want my Piplup to evolve into Prinplup! I wanted him to stay small and cute! I remember from Pokemon Red/Blue that you had the option to stop your pokemon from evolving. Its stats would grow slower but it would learn the better moves sooner. This isn't true in Pokemon Platinum!

Moving on...

Avatars #75.


Sept 7, 2010
Happy Anniversary to me and my wife! (yesterday)


Busy weeks. Weddings, anniversary, laziness, video games, etc. Here's your next Avatars.


Aug 3, 2010
If I were to write my current thoughts, they'd have to be translated into english by a crazy person.


Avatars #73. Read it. Read them all. Then feel free to provide some feedback here.


July 17, 2010
Happy Birthday to me...


Not much to say today. Here's Avatars #72.


June 12, 2010
Terry Gilliam is high...


We just watched The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. We were stone-cold sober. And I'm not sure I was.

As nonsensical as that was, here's the next Avatars.

My overall review of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: WTF out of 10.


Apr 25, 2010
A Message for my Wife on her Birthday (four days late)


Happy Birthday Janis.

This is everything you mean to me:
With you around, Every activity is more enjoyable.
When I'm proud of an accomplishment, You're the one I am most excited to tell.
You're the one I would feel most lonesome without.
No matter how much I see you, I always want to see you again.
When sick, sad, hurt, or angry, You calm and sooth me best.
You're the person I'll always be there for and I know will always be there for me.
You're the one who sings cute songs for me.
And the one I kill bugs for.
You make me want to be the best person I can be.
So that when the time comes, I will be the best dad I can be.
You could never be more beautiful than you are in my eyes.
I'm the most comfortable around you.
Wherever I am, If you're there too, I feel like I'm home.
Before there was you in my life, I was simply content. Now,
I'm happy.

I love you.


Apr 13, 2010
Rise of the Who?


Before I begin to rant, here's the link to Avatars #70.

I just have one thing to say. Rise of the Eldrazi looks like it's going to ruin the game of Magic the Gathering for me. With each new card they've previewed, I found myself groaning. I'm not going to go into detail now (so saying I'm ranting is inacurate) but suffice it to say, I won't buy into it. Check it out for yourself. I still support the game in general, but not this set. If this set starts a new trend of overpowered cards, I probably won't buy into any more new sets. Hell, I have enough cards as it is.


March 18, 2010
Villainous Suckery!


So here's the inconvenient thing about convenience:

If I'm working in the middle of the night and I want to send Jason a message, I can't do it without waking him up.

I won't bother explaining that, as tech-savvy people will probably already understand.

Tech-savvy looks kind of like it says tech-sawy.

On the bright side, the way to get Jason to help me with graphic stuff is to do it myself and threaten to show it in public with the Magi name on it.

On that note, Jay, could you send me the pieces of Bob's picture frame? Of course, I could keep trying to extract it from existing images...


Feb 19, 2010
If I had something clever to say, it would be right here.


I really don't know what Mark's last post was all about, and like he said, I don't want to. I think he was just trying to prove my prediction wrong.

Anyway, I have uploaded Avatars #69 and I'm trying to come up with something clever to say.
fatal error


Feb 15, 2010

You don't want to know. You really don't want to know.

Jan 27, 2010
I predict that Mark's next update will be from 2009.

Ah. A brief break. Just enough time to make Avatars #68. I know I said I'd likely do Hera first, but I guess I lied. I'm much farther along in the Avatars storyline. Hera can wait until I have time to work on both.

Dec 8, 2009
I Work, I Play.

Awesome! I have more clients!
However, this does mean less Avatars. (Here's #67, by the way.)
I also have recently done a guest strip for the 50th strip milestone of The Adventures of Hero. Basically, I'm a busy guy. I expect you'll see another page of Hera before the next Avatars. When that'll be I'm not sure. So just keep checking in.

Oct 31, 2009
Happy Halloween.

Apparently I've only averaged one Avatars a month over the last year. Well, that's what happens when you have a fulltime job and have multiple webdesign clients. Anyway, here's your new Avatars strip.

Oct 21 , 2009
Finally! Zombies!


I want to see ZOMBIELAND. I think it'll be entertaining.

But it's not the inspiration for today's update, nor is it the inspiration for what the update is about.

Animal Feed is a story we have had completely finished for a long time. It just hasn't been written down anywhere. I'm still working on that, no matter what the tabloids say. Here's the proof!

By the way, if I'm in the tabloids, let me know, 'kay? That would entertain me.


Oct 1 , 2009
There's no place like the internet.

Our latest project is finished.

Outhouse Plumbing and Heating, based in Morinville, AB, is now online.

I'm also working on another idea that just might speed up our ascent into madness - er, greatness. It's an ongoing process, this success thing.


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Copywrite 2007 Mark Mallon, Jason de Boer, Tylor Hewak