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Arthur, King of Time and Space Arthur, King of Time and Space

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Arthur, King of Time and Space


Recording the creative process

A reader emailed last week to complain of all the interesting things that happen offpanel, e.g. Balin and Balan's deaths and Morgan's attempt on Uriens' life. "I felt cheated after not getting to see the two knights meet one another disguised, and the comic highjinks that were sure to ensue, not to mention the pathos of the act that truly demonstrates that those who live by earnest stupidity die by earnest stupidity.

"And today, Morgan tried to kill her husband offscrean. Couldn't there have been a story of that? It seems like most of the comic is jokes and silly puns with occasional jokes starting off with 'Well, this exciting thing happened off screen...'"

I replied:

This is a very good point, and I do have an answer.

The reason Balin and Balan killed each other offpanel is the same reason the first three Round Table quests and Griflet's first quest happened offpanel: as Arthur complained when Griflet returned, in the fairy tale/baseline arc Arthur, despite being the central figure of the romance cycles, actually participates very little in the stories besides as debriefer except at the very beginning and at the very end. Yet in my work he's the point-of-view character. To highlight the contrast between his personal level of activity in the baseline and space arcs (the same contrast I highlighted in last Monday's cartoon) I decided at the time of Griflet's quest that in the baseline arc all the second-tier characters' quests must happen offstage and be related to Arthur afterwards.

As for Morgan's attempt on Uriens, that remained offpanel partly because Arthur wasn't there and partly because it happens in the middle of the Accolon story and I thought the story's pacing demanded that it be skipped over.

Naturally there are limits. As this week's cartoon with Morgan shows, baseline events directly affecting, and participated in by, the other main cast [as opposed to "second-tier characters"] ... will not be offpanel.

I'd also like to reiterate something I've said in this space before and in the FAQ: Arthur, King of Time and Space was always intended to be primarily daily standalone gags. Yes, in my own words I'm "retelling the legend in realtime", but "less as a novel than as a journal, as if it were Arthur drawing one of those cartoonist-and-his-pals webcomics". Remember also that my writing background consists of decades of writing fanfiction, and writing journal comics for no audience but the people who appear in them; genres which reasonably, unapologetically assume at least rudimentary audience familiarity with the backstory. I've written in this space that Arthur, King of Time and Space is for the legends' breadcrumbs. If you're looking for meat too, I recommend The Once and Future King, Le Morte d'Arthur and The Mists of Avalon (that's the order I encountered them).

This reader closed by emphasizing that on the whole she enjoys AKOTAS despite the frustration afforded by this particular facet of it. I must assume - because it's my policy - one email means several readers also experience the work similarly. Those of you who are frustrated by this and stick with AKOTAS anyway, thanks for reading.

Webcomics I read mornings: Kevin & Kell, General Protection Fault, Achewood, Scary Go Round, Tux & Bunny, College Roommates from Hell!!!, Real Life, Peanuts Webcomics I read M-W-F mornings: El Goonish Shive, Theater Hopper, Nukees, Newshounds, Girl Genius, Todd and Penguin, Pibgorn, Ctrl+Alt+Del Webcomics I read Tu-Th-Sa mornings: Crap I Drew On My Lunch Break, AppleGeeks, Orneryboy, Something Happens, Striptease, The Holy Bibble, Digger
Webcomics I read middays: Calvin & Hobbes, Least I Could Do, User Friendly, Anywhere But Here, Starslip Crisis, Questionable Content, Biggest Webcomic Loser, Schlock Mercenary, Narbonic
Webcomics I read evenings: LuAnn, Count Your Sheep, Goats, Pearls Before Swine, For Better Or For Worse, Help Desk, American Elf, Loserz, Dandy & Company, Irregular Comic, Bruno, Shortpacked, Boxjam's Doodle, Sluggy Freelance Webcomics I read M-W-F evenings: Reasoned Cognition, Two Lumps, Zortic, Order of the Stick, Home on the Strange, Penny Arcade Webcomics I read Tu-Th-Sa evenings: Casey & Andy, Girls With Slingshots, The Green Avenger, Get Out of My Head, Megatokyo
Webcomics I read bedtimes: B.C., Something Positive, The Angriest Rice Cooker In The World, Medium Large, Station V3, Dinosaur Comics, Wapsi Square, Little Dee, PvP
Webcomics I read Sundays: Butternut Squash, Checkerboard Nightmare, Smithson, Journey Into History, Tailsteak, No Room for Magic, 13 Seconds, Li'l Mell, The Whovian Observer, Gossamer Commons, Perry Bible Fellowship, Ctrl+Alt+Del See also The Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge, Talk About Comics, Online Comics Day, The Belfry Comics Index, The Webcomic List, Mister Bloo, Nth Degree, 100% Originality Theatre, Comixpedia, The Living Comic and Websnark.

Arthuriana sources I use or recommend:
Arthurian Legend
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.

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