|Surfman in the "NO" Race
|Darien Brice Dickinson
|Darien Brice Dickinson
Joshua James Dickinson (some pages only)
|January 1, 2004
|January 8, 2004
|The Fishal Project
Surfman in the "NO" Race is an eight page-long stick figure comic written and illustrated by Darien Brice Dickinson and his older brother Joshua James Dickinson under the Darien Enterprises Co. brand (now Studio RGB-Newt / The Fishal Project), with a single page drawn each day and shared with family and friends, at some point in 2004 (defaulting to January 1–8, due to the actual date being forgotten), the year when Darien turned 8 years old. The original version of the comic, drawn on lined sheets ripped out of a school notebook, is the only surviving story that still exists out of a larger compilation of comics in a fanzine called the "Darien Daily", also made by Darien that year.
Other Surfman comics from this compilation, which were thrown out at some point (making them permanently lost media), spawned an semi-antagonist, anti-hero character: The alter-ego of Surfman's sidekick "Beachboy", when infected by a gooey parasite in the form of a long-eared alien cat mask, whose later designs became the rabbit character Neon Mascot, as the art style evolved over the years, inadvertently making the ears longer. Additional post-Darien Daily Surfman comics and spinoffs spanning the years 2004–2012 were rediscovered in November 2023.
Efforts to recreate Surfman in the "NO" Race, in the same or similar art style for legacy reasons, have occurred multiple times in the years since. First, the comic was recreated in Microsoft PowerPoint, with each panel now a slide in a slideshow. One other effort to recreate the comic for its 10th anniversary in 2014, started and ended in 2012, with only half of the comic being completed. Another effort to recreate the comic as an animation began production in 2017, and is set to release on the comic's 20th anniversary year in 2024, albeit probably not in January.
Plot and setting
Note: This synopsis follows the canon transcript written in 2018 for the "20th Anniversary" remake version.
Surfman and his sidekick Beachboy attend a "surf school". After a few title cards, and an establishing exterior shot of the school, the school's corridor is shown, drawn from a perspective where it seems the lockers are understandably getting smaller, the further away they are. This is revealed in the next panel to be a meta joke on the art style, as the lockers have actual size differences (physically smaller lockers, the further down the corridor they are), which was not due to the perspective of the preceding panel. As the school day continues, Surfman and Beachboy attend a science class where the renowned equation "E=MC²" is being discussed.
One "dumb" kid brazenly rejects the formula, proclaiming "NO." The entire class then follows the student's defiant lead, all chanting "NO." together. The teacher, frustrated and baffled by the sudden rejection of scientific truth, sends the entire class to detention. In detention, the students are taught to express themselves with the surfer slang phrase "Woah, Dude.". History repeats itself when the same dissenting kid from earlier says "NO." once again.
The school's Headmaster releases Surfman from detention to serve as a judge at the school's Science Fair. Among the projects, a home-made gaming console captures attention, though the panel of judges give it a poor rating. (In the 20th Anniversary remake, the console is shown to be running Redgreen OS.) The previously-dubbed "dumb" kid appears, repeatedly asserting that he is smart. Surfman curiously inquires if his science project makes its user smart, making the Headmaster instantly award the "dumb" kid the highest distinction, a "Super A", with both characters sealing it with a fist-bump.
Later, everyone gathers at The Track of Surf-a-Lot, where the challenges include an increasingly odd series of tasks, most of which have nothing to do with surfing. Contestants are challenged to drive cars, buses, and even fly planes. A map of the intricate track is shown, and the Headmaster gives the signal to start the race. While the race begins, the "dumb" kid remains at the starting line, watching the other contestants' surfboards zoom across the water like jet skis.
At some point in the race, Beachboy discovers a shortcut to the skateboarding portion, smashing through barriers with ease. A security guard gives chase, but stops when he sees how strong Beachboy is. Meanwhile, the other competitors continue their tasks, and the "dumb" kid devises an ingenious plan: running directly from the start line to the neighbouring finish line. The Headmaster is dubious of the "dumb" kid's one-minute finish, while the remaining contestants engage in hot pursuit of Surfman, who is in the lead. Beachboy, demonstrating a penchant for chaos, runs people over during his bulldozer task, and fires the cannon of his tank during his tank-driving task, causing others to scream and cry as they dodge the ammunition. A cannonball from the tank destroys a secret laboratory, releasing a goo-like creature that attaches itself to Beachboy's face.
Amidst the pandemonium, Surfman advances, now at the car-driving task. As Surfman reaches the bus stop for the bus-driving task, he hops on an arriving bus and takes it to the airport, leaving his competitors behind to wait for another one. Some run after the bus in agony, only to see Surfman already in a plane above. However, when Surfman learns that he's actually supposed to fly the plane, rather than just fly in the plane, the plane begins to crash, but is recovered at the last minute. Beachboy approaches the finish line, still taken over by the mysterious goo parasite. Surfman declares "Hyper Space" and his plane travels faster than light, leading to a crash at the finish line.
Somehow surviving, Surfman parachutes to the finish line, ending up there before the "dumb" kid due to time rewriting itself during the faster-than-light space travel. He is declared the winner, and the Headmaster drops a 16-ton weight on the other racers for not winning. Surfman's triumph is immediately short-lived as the Headmaster takes the trophy for himself and closes the surf school. A farewell party ensues, and the Headmistress informs Surfman of a new "surf club". Surfman and the Headmistress surf to an island, where Beachboy, now fully consumed by the goo, threatens to dry up the ocean. Beachboy attacks the duo with a "dry wave", and the Headmistress sacrifices herself, becoming dried up before Surfman restores her with an "un-dry" ability. The battle escalates as Beachboy fires the sun into the ocean, drying up all the water. Surfman's single tear at there being no more ocean, falls to the ground below, reviving it. An epic duel ensues, with Surfman and Beachboy firing water and dry energy beams at each other, culminating in the fusion of their powers to create "dry ice". The story ends with the resulting massive energy ball of ice freezing everyone, and a "To be continued???" cliffhanger hints at further adventures to come.
Dickinson was encouraged to continue creating "Surfman" and other comics after positive reception from family and friends. "Surfman" and all other related characters from the early-2000s era were discontinued a few years later, with the exception of only Neon Mascot, who still remains a legacy character to this day, due to audiences taking a liking to their antics in the now missing "Surfman" comics.
Sometime in June 2018, the original pages were scanned for the first time to prepare for the 20th Anniversary remake.
In November 2023, other "Surfman" comics, designs, and media along with a whole trove of other NeonWabbit content spanning the years 2004–2012 were rediscovered and are currently in the process of being archived through photos taken with a phone camera and text descriptions, due to NeonWabbit not currently having any access to a scanner.
Microsoft PowerPoint version
"10th Anniversary" version
"20th Anniversary" version
Original version (2004)
Note: Scanned in 2018, from the surviving pages in NeonWabbit's archive.
- Neon Mascot, a legacy character originally featured in other comics from the "Surfman" series, which were made after "The 'NO' Race", but are now lost media. The 20th anniversary remake of "The 'NO' Race" retcons the character to explicitly be Beachboy.
- NeonWabbit Comic Dump, where the partial 2012 remake can be found.