The astonishing story of how Hard Cheap Knock pioneered Inner Eyelid Printing™…
For decades Hard Cheap Knock has been pushing boundaries and exploring vanguard ideas in art, humor, comics, fictional ads, funny looking characters, inside jokes, commerce, soft playpen netting, erotica, and literature. But what few readers not in the industry know is that before seizing the world wild web with such vigor, we here at The Knockquarters created some of the most progressive breakthroughs in analog print media.
One of our most celebrated inventions, and winner of the 2003 American Print Media Innovations Award, was Inner Eyelid Printing™, the true American story behind which has never before been told…
A True American Story
The idea was exquisitely simple: A hand-held apparatus that prints hypoallergenic ink directly onto the inside of users’ eyelids. Just close your eyes and you can enjoy Hard Cheap Knock virtually anywhere! At the airport, jury duty, in the Water Closet, on the subway (or elevated) trains, on the freeway, or swimming laps at the pool! For the first time in human existence, anywhere finally meant ANYWHERE. Homeboys on the board of directors and all these egghead engineers, with their college papers, in white labcoats, were looking at each other like, how is it no one thought of this shit before yo? And I shit you not I saw that Danish guy from accounting’s irises or whatever turn into fucking dollar signs. (This was before the days of bitcoins).
Elegant, stylish and powerful, the Enter-Your-Eye MAX™ Inner Eyelid Printer™ stunned the Innovations in Print Media world. Capable of printing one inner eyelid image per minute, the E.Y.E. MAX ™ was poised to change the world in ways only seen before with the invention of railway travel, or maybe the original kind of printing.
The E.Y.E. MAX ™ was poised to change the world in ways only seen before with the invention of railway travel, or maybe the original kind of printing.
But one major, critical flaw in the very concept nearly derailed E.Y.E. MAX™ from the outset: It was just too dark inside the eye, especially with the lid closed, to see the printed text or image. Even using the lightest black ink we could manufacture, the print was just, well, unseeable.
But just like they say at the beginning of American Ninja Warrior (Mondays 8/7c on NBC), whenever an amputee or somebody raising a wheelchair kid is about to compete: Life is not about what happens to you but how you respond to adversity. In our lowest hour, rather than kill the project and give in, we rallied with an idea that was just, well, brilliant.
Life is not about what happens to you but how you respond to adversity.
With Simplicity and Elegance once again our muses, the Hard Cheap Knock engineers created a hand-held light source, the E.Y.E. MAX™ Inner Eyelid Print™ Brightness Augmenter Cheap Knock Light. With an output of 21,600 lumens, the B.A.C.K. Light™, when positioned the recommended ½ inch distance from a user’s face, could beam enough radiant, full-spectrum light to penetrate a human eyelid and provide the contrast needed to finally see the rich, high resolution image printed on the inner eyelid. We had finally done it. Mastery of an unprecedented, previously unimagined new form of print media.
We had finally done it. Mastery of an unprecedented, previously unimagined new form of print media.
So what happened?
While pioneers in art, humor, comics, fictional ads, funny looking characters, inside jokes, commerce, soft playpen netting, erotica, literature and now print media, we at Hard Cheap Knock were fatally, heartbreakingly inept in one crucial field of expertise: self-promotion.
Our first error was hiring some street teenagers with bandanas to do market research and while their fee was reasonable and they seemed sincere, their numbers came back… odd. We should have gotten a second opinion but what did we know about marketing? The kids determined that the best demographics to target with the E.Y.E. Max™ and the B.A.C.K. Light™ were children ages 5-12 and seniors ages 65 and up. OK Fine…
It didn’t take long to discover however, that for countless reasons both legal and ethical, this was not going to be easy. Many states were quick to institute laws, for example, forbidding the inner eyelid printing of minors, eliminating half our market! And while printing and backlighting functioned perfectly with our senior consumers, approximately 70% reported considerable difficulty seeing the printed image due to complications arising from glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes and macular degeneration. This was looking grim.
This was looking grim.
Next, we could just not agree on the slogan. The plainest way to put it is just none of us would goddamn give in. Argh! So we ended up going with two simultaneous slogans which ultimately created confusion. Half of us loved “Anywhere Finally Means Anywhere,” paraphrasing the sentiment we felt in our eureka moment when conceiving Inner Eyelid Printing™. The rest were committed to “Tomorrow is Today,” emphasizing the forward-thinking aspect of the technology and creating a “space age” kind of buzz.
In the end both slogans were used to tag all TV spots, punctuating the message with more of a question mark, or ellipses, rather than the exclamation point we desired. Plus seniors, it turned out, did not respond positively to the concept “tomorrow is today,” which came across as an unnecessary and understandably unwelcome reminder of the imminent inevitable.
Finally, there was our TV commercial which was nothing other than a boiling wet piece of dogshit, handed in from experimental videographer “Wretched” Steven Strøggard who commited suicide promptly after its completion. We were hoping for something with culty buzz like Ricola or the one where they go “Apply Directly to the Forehead, Apply Directly to the Forehead” but instead we got something now used in Military prisoner interrogations.
Sales were abysmal.
Sales were abysmal.
The entirety of Hard Cheap Knock Entertaintment was weighed down by a constant barrage of lawsuits, threatening letters from the makers of IMAX™, smear campaigns, and protests from activists, hactivists and even wacktivists. The final straw to break the back of Inner Eyelid Printing™ was of course the rapid rise in the prevalence of the internet, also a form of media you can take anywhere, but without the need of a 21,600 lumens football stadium-grade light gun. HCK was nearly in ruins. Did you know that?
I said Did you know that?
Hundreds of HCK staff and custodial crew had to be fired and evicted from their on-site dormitories, offices were downgraded, vinyl lettering peeled off doors and windows with the shreds just left on the floor underneath and not even swept up, but the part that hurt most was seeing our warehouse emptied, crate after crate, of E.Y.E. MAX™es and B.A.C.K. Light™s as they were to be shipped off to that giant swirling garbage mountain in the Pacific Ocean.
No more was that cheerful whirring noise, nor the pleasant little sting of the stylus printing directly onto your inner eyelid. No more was that warm, comforting, full-spectrum light liberating image from darkness. Much like the days of fire’s first spark in the caves of cavemen times, revealing galloping antelopes all over the dirty wet cave walls, it just wasn’t meant to last.
Gone is love, gone is light, gone is singing in the night / Will you hear my soft whisper when I come to make things right? / Let a heart be filled with promises, but never overflow / for the one who loves but loses, his (or her) heart shall never know. / His (or her) heart shall never know. – Bernard Carson (poetry)
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve”. – Lao Tzu
Tune into American Ninja Warrior, Mondays 8/7c on NBC !!