EPICURUS: Principal Of Doctrines!

"A happy and eternal being has no trouble himself and brings no trouble upon any other being; hence he is EXEMPT from movements of anger and partiality, for every such movement implies WEAKNESS!"

EPICURUS: Principal Of Doctrines!

written by Fred Van Lente drawn by Ryan Dunlavey colored by Adam Guzowski

Script for Action Philosophers: Epicurus


Written by Fred Van Lente / © 2009 Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente


Panel 1: Corny image of EPICURUS kneeling in the foreground as behind him, across the curvature of the horizon, people hold their hands grinning and singing. But because we’re dicks, it’s an odd mixture: A Nazi holds hands with a rabbi, who holds hands with a skinhead, who holds hands with a hippie, who holds hands with a capitalist, who holds hands with Michael Jackson, etc. 

EPICURUS: Principle #1: A happy and eternal being has no trouble himself and brings no trouble upon any other being

EPICURUS: hence he is exempt from movements of anger and partiality, for every such movement implies weakness!

CAPTION: Thus begins the Principle Doctrines of Action Philosopher #29 (341-270 BC): 


CAPTION: No one was happier to create this comic than
Fred Van Lente (writer) and Ryan Dunlavey (artist)

Panel 2: A gauche comic tries performing at a cemetery.  

CAPTION: Principle #2: Death is nothing to us. 

CAPTION: For what has been dispersed has no feeling, and that which has no feeling is nothing to us. 

COMEDIAN: Screw this! I can’t slay this crowd! 

COMEDIAN: Somebody already beat me to it! 

Panel 3: Arrange this shot so it mirrors the previous one. Instead of tombstones we’re looking at wounded veterans in a VA hospital. They’re laughing uproariously at the comic’s routine. 

CAPTION: Principle #3: The limit of pleasure is the removal of all pain. 


COMEDIAN: That’s more like it! 

CAPTION: When pleasure is present, there can be no pain either of body or of mind or of both together.  


Panel 1: Two images: A carpenter slams a nail through his thumb and screams in pain; while beside him an old man and woman sit lovingly on the park bench. Over each is the length of time it lasted. For the pain, “62 seconds” – for the couple’s love, “62 years”! 

CAPTION: Principle #4: Continuous pain does not last long in the body… 

CAPTION: …even that degree of pain which barely outweighs pleasure in the body does not last for many days together. 

Panel 2: A RICH DUNCE (with cap) runs around a Wal-Mart with a shopping cart full of stuff, a screaming baby lashed to his chest in a Bjorn. He is trying to fax something with one hand and text something on the Blackberry at another. Signs from all the counters scream out “DON’T BE A LOSER! BUY MORE STUFF!” (Etc.) 

CAPTION: Principle #5: It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living pleasantly

DUNCE: Where does all the time go?!!? 

CAPTION: Whenever any one of these is lacking, when, for instance, the person is not able to live wisely, though he lives well and justly, it is impossible for him to live a pleasant life. 

Panel 3: Comics nerd surrounded by STAR WARS merchandise and other geek paraphernalia sits in his parents’ basement, miserably alone.  

CAPTION: Principle #8: No pleasure is in itself evil… 

NERD (SMALL): sigh

CAPTION: …but the things which produce certain pleasures entail troubles many times greater than the pleasures themselves.

Panel 4: Ryan merrily POPS BUBBLE WRAP one side and on the other side receives the NOBEL PRIZE FOR COMICS. 

CAPTION: Principle #9: If every pleasure were maximized and existed for a long time throughout the entire organism or its most important parts, pleasures would never differ from one another. 

RYAN #1: This is the greatest day of my life! 

SFX: pop pop pop pop

RYAN #2: This is the greatest day of my life! 

NORWEIGAN DUDE: And the Nobel Prize for Comics goes to… 


Panel 1: Ryan merrily POPS BUBBLE WRAP one side while a HEROIN JUNKIE dies of an overdose next to him! 

 CAPTION: Principle #10: If the things that beget pleasure in dissolute persons dispel their minds’ fears … if, further, they taught them to limit their desires…

RYAN: You keep your “high”… I’ll keep mine! 


JUNKIE: Ugh… Should have just … said … no! 

CAPTION: …we should never have any fault to find with the dissolute, for they would then be filled with pleasures from every source and in no way suffering from pain or grief, which is evil.    

Panel 2: On the campus of the UNIVERSITY OF FEAR all the students and teachers are hiding in terror inside windows and behind bushes and in trees – all we can see of them are their eyes. 

CAPTION: Principle #11: If apprehensions about the Heavens and our fear lest death concern us, as well as our failure to realize the limits of pains and desires, did not bother us, no need of natural science

Panel 3: Guy walks down a dark alley without noticing the UNIVERSE (seething cosmos in shape of a man – hell, you might want to make it ETERNITY from Marvel) is sneaking up behind him, knife raised at the innocent guy’s back. 

CAPTION: Principle #13: There is no benefit in securing protection from men if things above and beneath the earth and indeed all the limitless universe are made matters for suspicion

Panel 4: A Hermit relaxes in a beach chair with a cocktail in his hand on a mountaintop beside his HOVEL while a WAR rages in the valley below him. 

CAPTION: Principle #14: The most perfect means of securing safety from men, which arises, to some extent, from a certain power to expel, is the assurance that comes from quietude and withdrawal from the world. 


Panel 1: A bum sits in a dumpster and plays with bubble wrap, truly enjoying himself, while a MILLIONAIRE jumps up and down at his ruined Rolls Royce, which has smashed against a lamppost in the background. 

CAPTION: Principle #15: Natural wealth is limited and easily obtained; the riches of idle fancies go on forever

Panel 2: A statue of JUSTICE merrily pops BUBBLE WRAP, while behind her, a BUGLAR looks around in terror as POLICE CARS come for him! 


CAPTION: Principle #17: The just person is most free of anxiety, while the unjust person is full of it. 

Panel 3: An executioner sits in his dungeon axe to one side, and plays with bubble wrap.  

CAPTION: Principle #21: He who understands the limits of life knows how easy it is to procure enough to remove the pain of want and make the whole of life complete and perfect



CAPTION: Hence he has no longer any need of things that are not to be won save by labor and conflict.   

Panel 4: A guy fights with his sensations, i.e. giant nose, mouth, hands, ears, Rolling Stone-style lips, etc. 

CAPTION: Principle #22: We must take into account all the evidence of clear perception, to which we refer our opinions. Otherwise, everything will be filled with confusion and indecision.    

CAPTION: Principle #23: If you fight against all your sensations, you will be unable to form a standard for judging even which of them you judge to be false.   


Panel 1: Fred seriously contemplates leaping into a swamp and grabbing bubble wrap … except it lies in the open jaws of an ALLIGATOR. 

CAPTION: Principle #26. All such desires as lead to no pain when they remain ungratified are unnecessary, and the longing is easily got rid of

FRED: Hmmm… But it is bubble wrap… 

CAPTION: …when the thing desired is difficult to procure or when the desires seem likely to produce harm.   

Panel 2: Two guys wrapped in bubble wrap shake hands. 

CAPTION: Principle #27: Of all the means that are procured by wisdom to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important… 

CAPTION: …is friendship.   

Panel 3: People at a Wal-Mart struggle over a massive display that says “YOU WANT IT! YOU NEED IT! GET IT BEFORE YOUR FRIENDS! IT IS AWESOME!” The product’s name (as seen on the box lids) is clearly marked as “IT”. 

CAPTION: Principle #29: Of our desires some are natural and necessary; others are natural, but not necessary; 

CAPTION: others, again, are neither natural nor necessary, but are due to illusory opinion

Panel 4: Inside a terrarium, a MOUSE LAWYER slaps a lawsuit on a mouse running in a wheel while a horrified human RESEARCHER looks on.  

CAPTION: Principle #32: Those animals that are incapable of making covenants with one another, to the end that they may neither inflict nor suffer harm, are without either justice or injustice


SCIENTIST: We’ve invented LAWYERS! 


Panel 1: In a scene from the “Telltale Heart,” the murderer rips off the plank from the floor revealing the BEATING HEART beneath as two cops look on. 

CAPTION: Principle #34: Injustice is not in itself an evil, but only in its consequence,


CAPTION: viz. the terror which is excited by apprehension that those appointed to punish such offenses will discover the injustice

Panel 2: HITLER, dressed in a lady’s dress, steps off a plane in an airport in Brazil (RIO) looks fearfully around while a pretty customs officer greets him. 

CAPTION: Principle #35: It is impossible for the person who secretly violates any article of the social compact to feel confident that he will remain undiscovered, even if he has already escaped ten thousand times; 

CAPTION: for right on to the end of his life he is never sure he will not be detected.  

Panel 3: Guy sits merrily inside a one room cell or blockhouse, sitting on his lawn. His neighbors pass by giving him weird looks. 

CAPTION: Principle #40: Those who were best able to provide themselves with the means of security against their neighbors, being thus in possession of the surest guarantee, passed the most agreeable life in each other's society; 

Panel 4: Corpse in coffin still plays with bubble wrap, in some kind of postmortem rigor mortis, while mourners surround him. Also there is DEATH, who looks at his watch impatiently. 

CAPTION: and their enjoyment of the fullest intimacy was such that, if one of them died before his time, the survivors did not mourn his death as if it called for sympathy. 


DEATH: Yeah, yeah, we get it: Bubble wrap is pleasurable

DEATH: Can we hurry this up? I gotta be in Sri Lanka by five

CAPTION: The End!