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Odd Man out

   Lindsay Pereira

People come in two kinds. The first insist on greeting bad news with a nervous breakdown. The second throw a party. Todd Rosenberg fills a slot somewhere in between.

His is an interesting tale, see? A little over a year ago, as business development director at a company called Atom Films, Todd was suddenly asked to leave. Ignoring the moping and manic depression that usually accompanies being laid off though, he decided to learn Flash and HTML, and then chronicled his story in the form of an animated strip.

Two-minutes long and created in Flash, Laid-Off: A No Nothing Production has now attained cult status in select circles.

It features an unshaven Todd clad in a blue bathrobe. He stares into space, watches TV, sleeps, wakes up to more TV, dreams about success, sleeps again, survives on junk food, fantasises about winning the lottery, watches more TV, and finally realises that money may actually be of some importance.

The drawings hold no finesse, nor is the voice-over the kind that makes your heart skip a couple of beats. But that may be the point: all of this is real. Witty, but real.

People love the strip more because downsizing or rightsizing -- or whatever it is they call 'being sacked' nowadays - is no longer something that only affects other people at other companies in other countries. "Odd Todd Rules" says an enthusiast, calling it the "best three minutes spent in a long time."

There's more. Todd has actually earned some money off the film, thanks to a virtual tip jar that encourages visitors to leave him a dollar -- via Amazon's Honour System or PayPal -- every time they visit. "I've made over $2000," he confides. "Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining the site up went up with the traffic, so that makes my tip jar go down."

What about being laid off, I ask. If it wasn't for that would he have ever considered taking up a career as a cartoonist? "I've always been a cartoonist but was never able to make a living out of it," he replies. "So, after a couple months of lying around, I decided to learn Flash. This cartoon sort of came out of that."

After the attention his debut has got him, Todd hopes this may lead to a full-time job in animation. "I've received a ton of email from people who basically identify with the character, which is cool. Lots of contact from folks that want to work with me, but not many with actual money to spend."

There's been a truckload of fan mail from people who identify with the situation he's in, and Todd is busy working on a new episode that he hopes to air soon. In the meanwhile, he has a message for those who have just been given the boot. "I feel I'm in a bit of an easier situation because I am single with no real responsibilities (my goldfish recently died). My message would be to try and keep a positive attitude toward the situation. Soon enough we'll all be back cranking away at nine to five jobs and it would suck not taking advantage of this time off."

Last question. Has the site made him a hit with women? "I've received one marriage proposal," he admits. "Beyond that not too much. Perhaps it's the balding, beer gut, unemployed thing that's a turn off. I can't really afford to date anyway, so it works out."

That's sad. I'd root for Todd. After all, no one with a sense of humour can ever be that bad.

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