In this case FAQ stands for frequently anticipated questions. No one
had yet asked me any of these when I first created this page (except as
noted), and now I suppose no one'll ever have to; but this seems to be the
standard set webcartoonists are asked.
What's your comic about?
When King Arthur drew the sword Excalibur from the stone, its magic proved
more powerful than even Merlin had known. It unmoored Arthur and his
contemporaries from their home time, so that sometimes they exist in their
original time, and sometimes they exist in the far future, and sometimes they
exist in our time, etc.
There's a New Reader Orientation page with about a
dozen cartoons summarizing the archive to date.
Why King Arthur?
Because, of the sets of characters I love best, this is the only one that
doesn't fall under someone else's copyright. So I matched it with a premise
versatile enough to simulate any of the others at will.
Why "of Time and Space"?
Being loosed in time, the characters are dropped into a variety of
storytelling genres. There are three major genre arcs for the webcomic's
twenty-five thirteen year run. The fairy tale arc
(once called the medieval arc, but no more; see the essay on
this page) is also called the baseline arc
because it's an attempt to retell the classic King Arthur legend - as
faithfully as panel gags may be capable of retelling a story cycle which
originated in medieval romances that sometimes contradict each other - so
that deviations and similarities in other arcs can be contrasted by a reader
with only a moviegoer's knowledge of the legend.
The major differences between these arcs at this writing:
- In the fairy tale arc Arthur is the High King of Britain in a time
that's nominally the fifth century A.D. but is laced with anachronisms and
- In the space arc Arthur is the High King of all British space
during the decline of the Roman interstellar empire, and commanding officer
of the starship Excalibur which is the largest and best spaceship
remaining in British space.
- In the contemporary arc Arthur is major stockholder and CEO of the
biggest corporation in the world, Excalicorp; and has succesfully run for
President of the United States.
Merlin's time-travel in the space arc has shown that others besides Arthur's
contemporaries (including but not limited to Hercules, Sinbad the sailor,
Ghenghis Khan, Sherlock Holmes, and their respective contemporaries)
can be proportionately displaced in time by Excalibur's magic. The
contemporary arc's occasional allusions to topical persons and elements of
twenty-first century life show that the magic isn't always a catch-all. Merlin
has demonstrated a limited ability to travel between the time zones at will,
but ordinarily not even Merlin and Arthur are even conscious that it happens
- In the fairy tale arc, Arthur's reign is long settled down after several
years of succession wars. The affair between Guenevere and Lancelot has been
going on for years. Arthur remains fond of them both, and has implied to
the lovers (who know that Merlin's omniscience means Arthur must know of their
affair) that he will not endanger the stability of the High Kingdom by
exposing them. Lancelot was tricked into conceiving a child, Galahad, on
Elaine of Carbonek; when grown Galahad led the knights of the Round Table on
the quest for the Holy Grail, himself not returning from the quest. Arthur's
nephews Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris and Gareth are Round Table knights despite
their parents' past rebellion (which got their father King Lot of Lothian and
Orkney killed). Tristram of Lyonesse was also a Round Table knight, but has
been killed by his uncle Duke Mark of Cornwall for his affair with Mark's wife
Isolde, whom Mark also killed. Arthur learned that the daughters of his
father's enemy Duke Gorlois of Cornwall - Morgause the mother of Gawaine and
his brothers, Elaine and Morgan le Fey - are his half-sisters; just
after sleeping with Morgause and impregnating her with the bastard son
who shall one day, according to Merlin, destroy his kingdom, Mordred. Morgan
le Fey exposed herself as Arthur's enemy with a plot to steal Excalibur, and
is no longer among the court at Camelot; she plots with faerie allies to
become High Queen of Britain. Merlin has been trapped in a cave by the new
Lady of the Lake, Nimue, as he had been predicting all along would happen; he
didn't mention it would be an accident on her part. Mordred is now grown and
is a knight of the Table; despite Merlin's prophecy, Arthur is attempting
to groom Mordred to be the lawful heir to the high throne.
- In the space arc Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot are all officers aboard
the starship Excalibur. Having served on the Excalibur since Arthur's
crowning (instead of, as in the fairy tale arc, arriving at Camelot after
the wedding) Lancelot realized he was in love with Guenevere just before she
got married; as in the fairy tale arc Guenevere came to realization during
their separation during Arthur's Roman campaign to defeat the Emperor Lucius,
and the affair began during Arthur's Saxon Rock campaign. Because Morgan was
Merlin's apprentice in time-traveling, she and Arthur didn't realize she was
his half-sister until she was pregnant with Mordred; Merlin quickly returned
her to her own time. Grown, Mordred has been discovered to be Arthur's blood
heir after serving as squire and knight aboard Excalibur all his life; he now
rules British space as Prince Regent while Arthur captains Excalibur. For
years Morgan frankly admitted to plotting to become High Queen (her preference
to being Queen Mother) with the faerie allies she also has in the fairy tale
arc, but in the space arc she has reconciled with Arthur upon the elevation of
Mordred to heir apparent; Arthur has made her Excalibur chaplain as she has
taken novice's vows in order to explore the powers of the Holy Grail. Also
among the Round Table knights on Excalibur are Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris,
Gareth, Griflet, Eglante the lady of Malehaute, and Arthur's foster sibling
Bedivere. Merlin, after having Morgan as his apprentice during Arthur's early
reign, has a new apprentice assigned him, Nimue; usually they travel time and
space in his time machine but Merlin has agreed to joining the crew of
Excalibur for a time.
- In the contemporary arc Arthur is a US citizen. At his eighteenth
birthday he came into his long-dead parents' controlling interest in
Excalicorp, the biggest megacorporation in the world. Merlin, Arthur's high
school art teacher and part-time boss at Merlin's comics shop, with the
parents' power of attorney had him raised in a middle-class foster family so
that as an adult he could run Excalicorp with the common touch. Arthur had
wanted to be a cartoonist (he still draws a daily webcomic) but after years
serving as chief executive officer of Excalicorp he has successfully run for
President of the United States, defeating the conservative party incumbent,
Lucius Roman. Arthur, his foster siblings Kay and Bedivere, and Merlin lived
while Arthur was in high school in Springfield, a suburb of the Midwestern
major metropolis Camelot. Arthur met Guenevere, Lancelot and Tristram in an
online role-playing game. Lancelot is native to the east coast and Guenevere
to the west; both were lawyers partnered in practice in Camelot till they
joined Arthur's campaign staff. Lancelot's cousin Bors is a priest. Both
Guenevere's and Lancelot's families were more wealthy than Arthur's foster
family, but not than Arthur after he came into his inheritance. Morgan was the
high school's drama teacher during Arthur's sophomore year, but she married
rich and then quit teaching to go to Hollywood. She had small and large parts
in several movies and popular tv shows, has had her own sitcom, and is now
directing movies. Nimue was here Merlin's orphaned ward till his death and now
runs his comics shop and draws his webcomic. After the deaths of Tristram and
Isolde, Palodimes and Dinadan formed a band called Fu Bard. Morgause is in a
position of power at Excalicorp, and was acting CEO till Arthur came into his
inheritance; she acted as Arthur's mentor in the ways of corporate America
during his school years. Gawaine is a computer programmer for a major software
corporation - he and Arthur were freshman dorm roommates. Arthur and Guenevere
are married and have two boys, Mordred and Galahad, and were Nimue's foster
parents between Merlin's death and her majority. Guenevere and Lancelot are
having an affair. Guenevere, Arthur and Lancelot have each independently
realized that Galahad is Lancelot's child, and aren't the only ones.
- Tristram was male in the baseline arc, and female in the other two major
arcs. Through the first 1700 cartoons Bedivere was female in the contemporary
and space arcs too, but then he stopped. Tristram and Mark's wife Isolde
carried on an affair whether Tristram was male or not. Kay and Bedivere
remained lovers in the space and contemporary arcs even after Bedivere stopped
being female. Gawaine's siblings Agravaine and Gareth have been seen male in
the fairy tale arc and female in others. Other knights' gender may be bent
across the arcs too.
- In the fairy tale/baseline arc, Morgause is Mordred's mother. In the
space arc Morgan is Mordred's mother. In the contemporary arc Guenevere is
Secondary arcs to date include but are not limited to the western arc,
the movie parody arc, the MASH arc and the superhero
arc. In the Lord of the Rings movie parody several characters were of
course physically modified according to the movies' fantasy races'
characteristics. In the Star Wars parody Guenevere and Morgan were
combined into one character for the Princess Leia role. In the MASH arc
Morgan and Nimue are male. Arcs and parodies yet to come will no doubt
contain similar character manipulation.
To aid in identification across the arcs, characters' clothing is
color-coded (except in the MASH arc where of course everyone mostly wears
fatigues). Arthur wears yellow or the olive-drab that's what you get when
you try to tint yellow. Guenevere's in shades of blue, Lancelot red - thus
the three primary characters of the legends wear the primary colors from the
color wheel. Secondary colors go to Merlin (orange), Morgan (green),
and Nimue (purple). Supporting characters wear variants of their closest
association's color - Gawaine in a yellow-green because he's Morgan's and
Arthur's nephew, Morgause in a dark green because she's Morgan's sister but
more Arthur's enemy than she, Agravaine in (most recently) dark green
because s/he's more Arthur's enemy than Gawaine, Tristram's bandmates in pink
and red, etc. The combination Guenevere/Morgan character in the
Star Wars parody wears blue-green. (For more on the reasoning behind
the color-coding of the six leads see the newspost of this page.)
When Arthur, King of Time and Space pages are red instead of green,
that means the day's cartoon is set sometime in the future of the cartoon's
regular, current time. When Arthur, King of Time and Space pages are
blue instead of green, that means the day's cartoon is set sometime in the
past of the cartoons' regular, current time. Note that this displacement in
time hasn't anything to do with the timeshifting between story arcs. It's
relative to Arthur's time-hopping history, not absolute to time itself. There
could be a red-paged fairy tale arc cartoon that's set during the Renaissance
or a blue-paged contemporary arc cartoon that's set in 1976. (Black pages are
Arthur, King of Time and Space v2.0 - see the :working sabbatical"
question below or the AKOTAS-2
Retroactively, perhaps it's a separate arc when the characters step out of
the frames and speak out as fictional characters, the frameless arc,
but I don't track it separately in my notes. I do track separately the
filler arc, comprised of the cartoons uploaded on days when I've been
unable to draw a cartoon. Fillers are pulled from a reserve of cartoons
created expressly for the purpose (unless the reserve is empty). The only
format of the filler arc is that it has no format. Salutes to other webcomics were once usual.
Note this isn't a continuity strip at heart, it's gag-a-day humor. There is a
story being told here, but less as an epic than a biography, or a blog;
working less from a plot outline than from a calendar of landmark events.
Borrowing vocabulary from Stephen King, Arthur, King of Time and Space
is for the legends' breadcrumbs. If you're looking for more of the legends'
meat than this (actually, even if you aren't), I recommend the Arthurian
works listed in the influences paragraph below.
What's with the MSPaint triangle characters?
Originally at AKOTAS what I call triangle style is confined to
Arthur's webcomic-within-the-webcomic, and the normal daily updates are in
conventional line-drawing scanned into computer file with MSPaint. More
recently the default has become a lineless version of the linedrawing style.
While I don't agree with its many critics who find my triangle style
inherently inferior to my line-drawing style, it is admittedly easier to
execute and, for this reason, AKOTAS will sometimes be executed in
triangle style due to offline life constraints.
What's this "working sabbatical" you
For six months in 2009 I wanted to take a sabbatical from AKOTAS, but
while continuing to to keep my record of never missing a daily update.
Arthur, King of Time and Space version 2.0 (on black pages) was a
variation on fanfiction-derived Arthurian cartoons that were one step in the
creative process that led to AKOTAS. For details see
the AKOTAS-2 FAQ.
The working sabbatical had been planned to last two and a half years but only
lasted six months. Nevertheless, for reasons detailed on this page, I still aged the regular AKOTAS
characters those two and a half years.
In June 2011 I again put normal AKOTAS on a hiatus, until late 2011.
Instead of reviving AKOTAS-2, an alternate all-filler-sketch format
was implemented. This hiatus culminated in another skip of time in
the characters' lives, this time ten years.
Skipping those twelve years total does mean that AKOTAS' original
projected twenty-five year run will be truncated by that amount of time.
Instead of 2029 AKOTAS is now scheduled to end in 2017. Unless there's
another timeskip hiatus ...
In 2012 when no hiatus was planned there was an intermittent hiatus of sorts.
Due to spousal mediocal issues I invented a new filler format which the
characters dubbed "green room", that consisted of the characters being
cut-and-pasted framelessly onto the green page and delivering talking heads
gags, non sequiturs, or descriptions of what would be happening in a real
cartoon if I had drawn a real cartoon that day. Green room fillers appeared
intermittently as needed and are counted in my spreadsheet as hiatus rather
than fillers, like FMLA absences at work.
What's your update schedule?
Daily. And I haven't missed an update since I started in 2004, fillers and
hiatuses notwithstanding. That's with a day job which I haven't any intention
of leaving. There are very few webcartoonists out there who have never missed
a scheduled daily update over a comparable or longer period unless they're
cartooning professionals (or aspire to be, or did aspire to be when they
started and achieved it) who must update for their living and their career.
(And that's not to mention the webcartoonists making their living at it who
miss updates anyway.) I'm proud of my update record and I don't mind who knows
it. I not infrequently write that to miss an update I'd have to be in
mourning, hospitalized or dead myself. In fact, once in 2011 I was
hospitalized, and I still didn't miss an update, because I happened to have a
buffer at the time, which isn't always the case.
Originally, scheduled update time was 00:01 GMT. At the beginning of 2007 I
announced in a newspost that scheduled update time would be changed to a
02:00 00:00 till 06:00 GMT till further notice, in anticipation
of logistical difficulties that didn't actually materialize. I never retracted
the change because it's less stressful this way, because midnight GMT is the
dinner hour in my timezone so I frequently updated in the 00:00-06:00 window
Why start a webcomic?
I've been drawing a cartoon a day since 1976, with the occasional hiatus.
As a method of distribution, putting them online beats carrying them around
in a blue three-ring binder.
Who are your influences?
Peanuts, B.C., Hugh Lofting's Doctor Dolittle
illustrations, Phil Foglio's 70s Star Trek fanzine work. Storytelling
influences include the above plus A.A. Milne, Larry Gelbart and those who
wrote M*A*S*H under and after his administration, Garry Trudeau;
science fantasy influences include Star Trek, Doctor Who,
Star Wars, the Oz books, the Narnia books, Joss Whedon; Arthurian
influences are primarily T. H. White's The Once and Future King, Marion
Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon and sundry literary and
non-fiction works edited by Norris Lacy.
What's your experience?
I've got insignificant paid experience as a cartoonist. But I've got the
unpaid experience noted in the Why a webcomic? question. Like many
webcomics, my blue binder cartoons depicted the cartoonist and his pals
involved in conflicts ranging from everyday frustrations to dark lords with
spacefleets. Aihok and Effex, characters who appear in AKOTAS as
Merlin's webcomic characters and as Morgan's fairy allies, appeared in the
blue binder cartoons. In the 70s I had stories published in two or three
Star Trek fanzines; in the 80s, two or three Doctor Who
fanzines. In the 80s I wrote and performed for the Chicago science fiction
comedy troupe Moebius Theatre, sold a few cartoons at science fiction
convention art shows, appeared in the APAzine Vootie alongside such as
Reed Waller, Ken Fletcher, Larry Beck and Tim Fay, and earned an A.A. at the
American Academy of Art in Chicago. In the early 90s I self-published two
fanzines: a Star Trek: The Next Generation novella The Legacy of
Kirk, and 500 Year Diary, a book of Doctor Who crossover
cartoons. Fanfiction and AKOTAS cartoons appear regularly in the
fanzine Alexiad edited by Hugo-nominated writer Joe Major.
In the late 90s and early 00s I wrote stories and drew cartoons on a personal
website. That material was all fanfiction, primarily of Doctor Who,
Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That is, it was all
fanfiction until I started globally replacing each proper noun in my
Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover stories and cartoons with a
proper noun from the King Arthur legend and adding the new versions to my
website under the umbrella title King Arthur in Time and Space.
This material of course was the progenitor of the present work. (The reason
no one asked me FAQs before I composed this page is because most or all the
readers I had then followed me from that website to this one, and already
knew all this. Many such readers appeared in the blue binder cartoons.)
The diskspace quota for the fanfiction site filled up after ten years, so
now I update fanfiction cartoons in a subdirectory of this site at
The Hero of Three Faces.
And there's also a journal cartoon here, Creative Process
Which of the characters is most like you?
Arthur is the innocent I hope I am. Merlin is the wise man I hope I am.
Guenevere is the free spirit I hope I am. Lancelot is the believer I hope I
am. Effex is my left brain and Aihok is my right brain.
Where do you get your ideas?
I hate that question.
How do you create a cartoon?
Once I've written the gag, I create a blank strip in MSPaint from a template
PNG file, delete default panel borders and add new ones as needed, and letter
dialog before I draw. Originally I drew with an "ultra fine point" Sharpie on
Mead Academie "Sketch Diary" paper, but shortly I switched to standard
copy/printer paper because the marker seems to bleed less. There were periods
when I drew strips with a mouse in MSPaint. Sometimes I drew with pencil -
your standard No. 2 - after I figured out how to change my MSPaint scanning
settings so that pencil lines show up. Because the scanner was also a copier,
sometimes I copied original pencils first before scanning to get them dark
enough. I remember reading when young that Jim Berry, cartoonist of
Berry's World, used to photocopy his pencils rather than ink them and
lose their spontaneity.
I scanned the drawings into MSPaint (when they weren't created there) then
paste up, cleaned up and colored the strip there. Usually there was very
little clean up because I didn't pencil before I inked (when I inked) and I
don't use preliminary construction lines (I recall astounding one or two
fellow Vootie contributors with that, the one time I jammed with them
in person; as well as Fred Berger when I was his student at the American
Academy of Art).
In December 2011 I was gifted with a Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet. At the
moment I don't anticipate ever going back to pen and paper.
A weekday cartoon usually takes ten minutes to an hour to execute. A Sunday
cartoon there's no telling, which is why they get drawn on Saturdays.
A 2011 hiatus sketch took five or ten minutes and was scanned and posted with
little or no postproduction. Light duty is the whole point of a hiatus
The webcomic community in general regards MSPaint with unabashed disdain, but
so far it does pretty much everything I
need done. The webcomic community also dislikes the font I use, Comic
Sans MS, but that appears to me an overreaction to its overuse in the
long-past early days of webcomics, or to its use in other things than comics,
so I ignore it. Plus, when I went online in 1995 I made a conscious decision
to live my online life as much as possible through industry standard system
defaults, i.e., software that can be found standard on any Windows machine. I
also handcode my websites with the HTML I know, so that I know if something
goes wrong I did it and I can fix it. Consequently the work I do today can
pretty much be done, with at most minor inconvenience, at almost any desk
in the world. (Once when I wrote this at some online forum or other the
rebuttal was attempted, "Photoshop is pretty standard nowadays." I responded,
"It didn't come on any of my computers.")
But the problem with line drawing for webcartoons is that it depends on
computer peripherals that break down and can't always be repair or replaced
promptly on a working person's budget. Recently after a couple of months of no
scanner and no drawing tablet, I decided that, while drawing in lines with a
mouse is no good and drawing "trinagles" all the time is not what I wanted for
AKOTAS, drawing unoutlined, "lineless" shapes with a mouse is better
How is the website maintained?
(Edited from a news section essay in response to a reader's questions.) I've
typed the code for every page on this site myself in the Windows text editor
or, since Windows Vista doesn't include the old text editor, Notepad. I use
green backgrounds because I once read that green's the color easiest on the
eyes. I don't know PHP (I don't even know what the acronym stands for). Every
day I must edit or create the pages for the archive, the new cartoon, the
previous day's cartoon and the index page, in order to update all links
properly; and if there's a news section then that must be pasted into the
news archive page.
I've always believed in easy-loading web pages (which is why I didn't
put comic strips on the web back in the dialup age as did
Scott Kurtz and
Pete Abrams and others
who are now the old men of webcomics). Even if I ever learn fancier code, my
look may not change much.
What music inspires Arthur, King of Time and
I'm a child of "classic rock", movie soundtracks and Muppet music. That said,
most of the music that inspires me does so for associations I bring to it. I
like jazz, but the jazz I like best is reinterpretations of melodies I
already know (like Ahmad Jamal's rendition of Suicide is Painless or -
my favorite piece of recorded music of all time - Eumir Deodato's Also
Sprach Zarathustra). Stealing the Enterprise from the Search
for Spock soundtrack, and the fifteen minute version of the 70s disco
suite of Star Wars themes, mean Arthur, King of Time and Space
to me through association with material that inspired it, and because there's
not a lot of modern pop music inspired by King Arthur. There is Rick
Wakeman's album King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (Is
that its name?) of which my favorite track is Merlin the Magician
because I like instrumentals. The 1812 Overture is my theme for the
battle of Bedegraine and for the space arc version of [spoiler deleted].
There's a folk song called
(here's another title I'm probably mangling) I'll
Give You My Riley to Ride 1952 Vincent about a bad boy who leaves his
bike to his girl, which makes me think of Merlin and Nimue (that tells
you more about those characters than any cast bio ever could). Early on
Guenevere adopted Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves as her
theme song. The day the western arc debuted, Lancelot staked out the Eagles'
Desperado. This cartoon established Still
the One as Arthur's and Guenevere's song.
When I like a piece of music I'll listen to it over and over. When I started
drawing a cartoon a day in 1976, I picked out the longest single piece I had
in my collection, so that I'd have to turn the phonograph needle back least
often while drawing. In that way the alltime theme for my daily cartoons
became the Ballet for a Girl from Buchanan suite on Chicago II.
When I finally started buying CDs almost the first thing I did was rectify
the total lack up till then in my music collection of Vince Guaraldi
Peanuts music. If and when Arthur, King of Time and Space is
animated for the screen, its theme will be Greensleeves arranged for
When are you going to offer swag?
store with a couple of products on it. Let me know if there's something
you'd like to see there.
I hope to eventually offer print collections of the cartoons despite their
low resolution. Some browsing at Lulu.com in 2006 made me much more optimistic that this
will eventually happen. As of the latest update date at the top of this page,
I mean to wait till the end of the regular run and look into putting out a
best-of volume or set of volumes.
When are you going to offer an RSS feed?
I've looked into RSS more than once and it appears to be just beyond my level
of technical expertise. But David Morgan-Mar has set up AKOTAS as one
of the webcomics available at Archive Binge RSS feed, and there's a button
for that on the AKOTAS main page.
Which are your favorite webcomics?
The ones linked on the index page.
What's in the future for Arthur, King of Time and
I originally intended to tell the story of King Arthur in real time in daily
panel gags over twenty-five years, less as a novel than as a journal, as if
it were Arthur drawing one of those cartoonist-and-his-pals webcomics.
Because of the sabbaticals/hiatuses and their attendant timeskips the
projected lifespan of the story is now thirteen years. It's gotten more
"adult-oriented" as it goes along, as you knew it would if you also knew the
legend. But not graphically so, as I don't need some parents' watch
organization suing me because a fourth grader found graphic cartoon sex on
my site while researching King Arthur for class. Starz Network had
more to worry about on that score than I do. AKOTAS's has had some
blood and language though.
Will you draw your female characters naked for me?
All webcartoonists get asked this. Look here, and here,
and here. Or make me an offer.