Thanks for reading.
Several Sundays ago I wrote that Sundays are for experimentation. A few weeks later I drew Sunday's cartoon on the computer - with the mouse instead of with a pen. No one seems to have noticed, but I thought it wasn't as smooth as scanned pen drawing and I resolved to practice more before I contemplated switching over permanently. For the next several weeks I didn't play with technique on Sundays.
But for a couple of days there I had been enjoying the idea of dropping the scanner portion of my procedure. I'm not quite sure why the notion is so attractive to me. I don't think it's laziness, as the saved effort of working the scanner is probably more than made up for by the extra effort and time it seems to take to render the same figure in proportion by mouse rather than by pen (although it's probably quicker to color mousework than scanned penwork because mousework leaves lots fewer leaks to plug before spilling the paint can). It may be that, having been obstructed from producing daily webcomics once before by the unplanned unavailablity of a scanner, I don't wish to be reliant on a scanner for Arthur, King of Time and Space. Or it might just be the tidiness of containing the entire process in electrons, with no inconvenient hardcopy to wrangle, and needing no art supplies but those sitting conveniently on a nearby desk almost anywhere I go.
Later on I was working computer post-production (lettering, coloring, etc.) on an AKOTAS cartoon and I decided one of the figures was out of proportion to the rest of the panel. At first I was going to redraw it, scan it, paste it, etc., into the otherwise finished strip. But I wasn't in a position to do that at the moment, and I'd noticed my pen was dying, and I lost patience. On the computer I took the original figure out and digitally replaced it, like George does with Jar-Jar. Again, no one's noticed, or at least no one's said anything. (Can you tell which figure? Answer at the bottom of that page.)
The day that that cartoon went up, I did the following day's whole strip with the mouse. I couldn't help myself. I drew the next day's with the mouse, and decided the first and last panels sucked, and did them over in pen-and-scanner. Since then whether a cartoon's been done in penwork or mousework has been dictated by convenience (mostly mousework). No one seems to have noticed the difference.
The two characters in Merlin's webcomic have been with me since 1977.
They started out in a seperate work from what I refer to in the FAQ as the "blue binder" daily cartoons. The War of Whant was an unplotted serial evil-overlord fantasy - coincidentally, rather like the one a friend of mine was drawing - a cross between Tolkien and B.C. with characters' names obscurely derived from M*A*S*H. Aihok (pronounced eye-hawk) and Effex (Trapper John's middle name was Francis Xavier) were the Frodos. Not Frodo and Sam - for Aihok and Effex made, or over the years came to make, a whole person between them: me. Aihok (the one with arms) is my right brain and Effex (the one with hair) is my left brain.
In 1980 Aihok and Effex got on a spaceship and relocated into the blue binder cartoons, arriving on contemporary Earth to interact with me and my buddies as a covert advance observation team from an interstellar Confederation. In 1997 they were retired with the blue binder cartoons when I moved on to internet fanfiction; in late 2003 they were revived when I added the blue binder milieu to my fanfiction site; in early 2004 they were retired again when I launched this site.
Among my initial plans for the contemporary arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space was that I'd import the invented scenarios from the blue binder milieu, re-running storylines that had originally featured myself and my friends with Arthur and his friends instead. But before I actually implemented any of those plans it came home to me that contemporary AKOTAS needs to be a haven from the overt fantasy of the other arcs or it loses what makes it special.
When I made contemporary Merlin a webcomic artist I realized that - even if it was never to be shown in AKOTAS - I needed to figure out what characters his webcomic was about. I actually spent weeks or months trying to figure that out. Certainly I hadn't done so when Arthur asked Merlin to draw chibis - it's not like Aihok and Efex aren't chibis already. D'oh.
My only regret is that I thought I'd avoided Cute Webcomic Mascot Syndrome and may have been wrong. Blame Jung again.
Whant rhymes with ant.
Arthuriana sources I use or recommend:
Arthuriana - the Journal of Arthurian Studies; the website of the quarterly journal of the North American Branch of the International Arthurian Society.
The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester.
Camelot In Four Colors: A Survey of the Arthurian Legend in Comics
Mystical-WWW - The Arthurian A2Z knowledge Bank which has encyclopedically-arranged entries on the characters of the Arthurian legends.
Le Morte Darthur: Sir Thomas Malory's Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Volume 1 and Volume 2.