Monthly ArchiveJune 2011

Reader Mail 29 Jun 2011 11:41 pm

We received a Dinosaur Comics remix.

Taking Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics and turning them into new and exciting projects is a time-honored tradition. Ryan does it every weekday! It’s also how Machine of Death started, as you may know.

One fan-created Dinosaur Comics remix arrived in our mailbox as part of our mail-order Death Prediction program.

First, let’s look at the accompanying letter:

Hello, MOD Inc. or whatever you guys like to call yourselves! I discovered Machine of Death yesterday & have been tearing through stories like crazy. After much philosophical debate with my friends (debate that consisted primarily of everyone saying DO IT DO IT DO IT), I’ve decided to “get my finger pricked” and find out how I’m going to die.

My enclosed payment is a Dinosaur Comic I wrote for my boyfriend, Jordan, for Valentine’s Day. He’d gotten me a giant Squishable T-Rex for my birthday two weeks earlier, which I now cuddle with every night when I go to bed. I tried to determine how T-Rex would interpret such affection & went from there. I hope the comic does not make Ryan North cry.

Thank you all for making stuff like Machine of Death possible & for making my life & the lives of my friends a little more entertaining. I look forward to discovering my fate!


Annica Redmond

Now check out the accompanying comic (click for bigger, or, the transcript is below):

Panel 1

T-Rex: Jordan Keagle! I must share some bad news with you, my friend…well, actually it is bad news for you, but very good news for me.

Panel 2

T-Rex: I have usurped your place in Annica’s heart!

Panel 3

T-Rex: She thought you were fine, you see, until I came along. Now we snuggle in her bed every night. And she shared her birthday cake with me. And she hugs me every time she enters the room.

Dromiceiomimus: T-Rex, I don’t think…

T-Rex: Snuggles, birthday cake and hugs, Dromiceiomimus! If that is not love, I do not know what is!

Panel 4

Utahraptor: T-Rex, I think you are both reading too far into Annica’s actions towards you & perhaps intentionally failing to see her actions towards Jordan. Yes, she hugs you & snuggles you, but so does everyone else who sees you, mostly because you are very soft & fat.

T-Rex: *GASP*

Panel 5

T-Rex: You mean–you mean Annica has just been using me for my body this whole time?!

Utahraptor: I never said–

T-Rex: And she ACTUALLY loves Jordan! The snuggles were lies! THE CAKE WAS A LIE! It seems I have been misreading her signals this whole time, Utahraptor! All her REALLY meaningful affection goes to Jordan!

Panel 6

T-Rex: Plus… plus also she kisses Jordan and that is a strong sign too.

Thank you for sending us this comic! I hope Jordan appreciated it as much as we do.

Reader Mail 24 Jun 2011 10:15 am

Presenting: An Adorable Penguin

This is my very favorite of the death prediction requests that I’ve seen so far.

This watercolor painting is incredible. Look at that penguin! And look at that Death Machine! Either one alone would make for a great painting. Together they just can’t be beat. And I have to wonder: What is going on here? Is the penguin getting tested? Is this part of an ad campaign, and the penguin is a mascot? Has the machine been abandoned in an Antarctic wasteland, to save people from the evil of knowing how they’re going to die? I would like to see some stories about this painting. I feel like there’s a lot of material here.

But there’s more! The kick-ass painting came with a letter!

The letter reads:

Dear Machine of Death,

I’m Emese, a 22 years old girl from Hungary, and I’ve been a fan of your book since it was released. I read the e-book when it came out, but I could buy the actual book only as a christmas present /for myself./ But still it was awesome and worth every cent!

Today is my birthday. I heard that you are giving away death predictions, and thought that one would be awesome as a present /for myself again/. None of my friends have one yet, so being the first with it would be great! : D

Anyway, it might happen that no one will ever read this letter, since I’m not sure wether I wrote the adress right; or the predictions might be already ran out by the time you get this. But even then I just want you to know, that your work is awesome, but I’m probably not the first to tell you that.

I wish you all the best!


This is a lovely piece of fan mail, ringing of sincerity, and just self-deprecating enough to be endearing without going overboard.

And that’s not all! There’s also something on the back of the painting:

This is the price of a letter from Hungary to the US. I don’t think you can use it for anything but I didn’t know what else to send in return.

It’s difficult to purchase US postage from foreign countries, so people in other countries cannot stamp their self-addressed envelopes before sending them to us. For international requests, we will provide postage, but we ask that the request include something worth about a dollar, which is roughly the cost of mailing a death prediction card internationally.

The postage required to send a letter to the US from Hungary is a fitting exchange for the postage required to send a letter to Hungary from the US. I’m fascinated to learn that they have Braille stamps in Hungary. I’d had no idea that Braille stamps existed anywhere, but maybe every country in the world has them and I’m just completely out of touch.

Anyway, every piece of this request was great. I enjoyed seeing the painting, and I enjoyed reading the letter, and I enjoyed seeing some Hungarian postage. Overall, opening this request was a great experience.

I don’t know what could be better than this watercolor penguin, but I look forward to seeing what you can come up with!

Podcast Episodes 23 Jun 2011 11:36 pm

Podcast 18: FIRING SQUAD, by J Jack Unrau

“FIRING SQUAD,” by J Jack Unrau. Read by the author. (27 min)

When I looked up from my plate, three young men were sitting on the other side of the rough table, staring at me intensely. None of them were very tall, but they had the tough look of mountain people. Their faces were purple from burst blood vessels — or maybe it was makeup, I’m not going to pass myself off as some expert here. They wore heavy canvas clothes and long, filthy woolen scarves.

When I finished my meal the one on the left spoke to me. “Do you know where we can get a Machine of Death?”

Download the MP3 Subscribe on iTunes
Direct podcast feed:

J Jack Unrau is a freelance writer and vagabond librarian whose work has appeared on, CBC Radio and in Broken Pencil. Living in China taught him valuable lessons about taking pictures of riot police. J’s online home is

In the book, “FIRING SQUAD” is illustrated by Brandon Bolt. This podcast episode was edited by Matthew Schwartz.

Reader Mail 21 Jun 2011 12:23 pm

The proper way to do things

What time is it? It’s time for another awesome death prediction request! Yay!

The distinguishing feature of this one is that it fits in perfectly with Machine of Death mythology. It could conceivably have fallen right out of a Machine of Death story and into the real world, where luckily we got a hold of it before it could disrupt the fabric of reality by falling into the wrong hands.

The card pretty much speaks for itself. I love the attention to detail. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but this was not printed straight out of a computer with everything in place. The stamp, the parts written in blue ballpoint pen, and the “blood” were all added individually. I’m guessing the sender already owned or had access to a stamp saying “Paid” and adjustable for different dates, but it’s still an impressive bit of realism.

By the way, these are all photographed immediately after being opened, which is why the bottom fields are not yet filled out. The photographing stage happens before the staff begins processing.

If you’d like to send us a sample of your blood for processing, (please don’t send us your actual blood) we’d be happy to let you, too, know how you will die. At Machine of Death, that’s our job.

Fan art 20 Jun 2011 09:17 am

Second-last Machine of Death Monologue

Here it is, the second-last in the series by Orpheos!

Episode 7 – A lonely oddball, infatuated with the girl next door, worries at the prospect of never seeing her again.

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