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

Cast and FAQ

New reader orientation

Last updated 1/3/13
Significant revision(s):

Why "of Time and Space"?
Updated with the conclusions of the Grailquest year.
What's your update schedule?
Updated with description of the "green room" intermittent
hiatus format of 2012.
What's your experience?
Link to Creative Process added.
How do you create a cartoon?
Drawing tablet info added.
When are you going to offer swag?
Link to Zazzle store added.


High King of all Britain. A little dim.
Omniscient wizard. No one listens.
High Queen of Britain. Outspoken, self-assured, sometimes cranky.
Best knight in the world. Holier than thou. I'm not kidding.
Merlin's former apprentice. Arthur's half-sister, which they learned rather late. No longer on the best of terms with the others.
Merlin's apprentice. Mild-mannered and quiet.
Arthur's nephews. Gawaine's not too bright but loyal. Agravaine's not too loyal but bright. Gaheris - which of his brothers spoke last?
Second-best knight in the history of the Round Table. Carrying on an affair with his queen, Isolde of Cornwall. (What is it with these guys?)
Arthur's foster family. Think Smallville.
Arthur's son. His age and who his mother is vary across the centuries. Cool and ambitious.
Characters in Merlin's webcomic.
Arthur and his friends
as they appear in his webcomic.


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 projected 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.
  • 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 fantasy.
  • 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.
The major differences between these arcs at this writing:
  • 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 Mordred's mother.
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 at all.

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 FAQ.)

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 AKOTAS-2?
What's this "working sabbatical" you mention sometimes?
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 window 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 anyway.

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 sketch.

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 than either.

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 Space?
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 jazz trio.

When are you going to offer swag?
There's Zazzle 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 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 Space?
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.
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