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

Rants 2004


My name's Paul Gadzikowski. I've been drawing webcomics since 1976. I just couldn't know then that that's what they were.

This site lacks such usual webcomic site conventions as discussion forums and premiere memberships with special access features. But it shall have a cartoon every day at or about midnight GMT, barring accidents. There'll be "news" and "rants" in this space. When there are enough cartoons to fill a book, making one available for sale will be looked into. Other products for purchase may become available as they're thought of and/or if the amount of site traffic drives costs up. And I shall certainly read all comments you email me even if I don't reply.


One of the columnists at Comixpedia recommends this month recording the creative process. Though I enjoy it in others, I feel a little uncomfortable putting author's notes on my works. I picked up my attitude on this from Winnie-the-Pooh where immodesty is portrayed as natural but impolite. Plus there's an element of "the work ought to speak for itself". Plus it oughtn't take more time to read the text on a webcomic site than to read the cartoons... But, as I say, I enjoy it from others, and even learn something sometimes (if only reinforcement of "I'm not the only one who's gone through that!"). Maybe I can do that for people.

Technical matters:
I draw with an "ultra fine point" Sharpie on Mead Academie "Sketch Diary" paper. I scan the drawings into XP MSPaint (as "black and white picture or text") and paste up, letter and color the strip on the computer. (I admit I use MSPaint publically with some trepidation. I gather MSPaint is viewed with intense disdain by the webcomic community. In his guidelines for guest strips Greg Dean declares that MSPaint being all you have is no excuse, though he doesn't offer an alternative in detail enough to be helpful.)

Creative matters:
After fifteen hundred years of evolution and expansion, the King Arthur legend cannot be portrayed properly by modern contemporary visual media the way the twentieth century tried. There's just too much material to fit into two hours, or eight hours, or twelve issues. For a long time I've thought that the proper way to retell the Arthurian legend in a visual medium was serially over years in monthly or weekly installments, to cultivate a fan base the way Sherlock Holmes and STAR TREK and James Bond have cultivated their fan bases.

(Before you say anything, despite the greatness of Hal Foster's Prince Valiant it's not the same thing I'm talking about because Arthur, Guenevere, Lancelot, Merlin, Morgan, et cetera are only supporting characters.)

Then I discovered webcomics and knew I'd have to build one of my own. I decided to use Camelot in mine because that's the set of characters among those sets I love best which doesn't fall under Someone Else's Copyright. Awhile after that I realized that I'd created the very project I'd been wishing for.

Uh oh.


Continuing to record the creative process

I had a week's cartoons drawn ahead last Friday when the first cartoon went live, and several days scripted ahead of that. Since then I've been drawing one a day to maintain a week's cushion. Last Wednesday (which is to say next Wednesday's gag) was the first day I hadn't already scripted a gag for.

I have plenty of gags scripted; just none suited for next Wednesday, smack in the middle of Arthur, King of Time and Space's first medieval week (as the current week is a space week). The medieval arc in Arthur, King of Time and Space is to be an important piece of the overall work: I want it to be set in the fictional universe of (pardon the oxymoron) the real legends - that is, as faithful a rendering as daily gag panels can render of a corpus of classical romances that sometimes contradict each other. I want to give the reader a baseline from which to evaluate (to the degree any given reader cares) how much in the other arcs is my own deviation. But I was a little worried because, much as I love the Matter of Britain, I haven't any practice in regular writing of gags in a medieval and/or sword-and-sorcery milieu. This was my challenge on the first day I must write a gag from scratch in order to keep a week ahead.

I ended up writing three or four. Though I say it who shouldn't, one of them (the one for a week from today) had me chortling the rest of the day.

It may be that none of the gags I wrote Wednesday possess any quality that inherently makes it a medieval arc gag, except circumstantially, since the gags're all built around the theme of Arthur dealing with his subject kings. That could be transposed into another setting, except that's something he isn't doing in other arcs in quite the way he had to do in the legends. (For instance, this week in the space arc, Arthur abandons the capitol entirely in the company of the four most important people of the rest of his life, leaving the ruling of the kingdoms to his foster brother Kay who unlike Arthur had actually wanted to be chosen High King.) This is one of the deviations from baseline of which I spoke above. But the gags I wrote Wednesday are definitely King Arthur gags and that's what's important. Well, except for one of them, whose punchline rather proceeds from current events; but (coincidentally or not) that one's my least favorite of the lot anyway.


Note that I named Arthur's chief rival finally. I know the names of each of the subject kings or allies I've pictured so far, and more I haven't pictured yet, but a new webcomic needs not to be too populated with major characters and I'm having trouble keeping the numbers down as it is. (Of course an Arthurian aficianado already knew the chief rival's name.)


Perhaps I ought to clarify something that's confused at least one reader: The famous Round Table shall be a wedding present to Arthur from his father-in-law, as per Malory. This table has a head and a foot and corners, as can be seen in its first appearance and in its appearance today. If you were confused, blame Charles M. Schulz, from whom I acquired the tendency to draw things in profile.


Bride of recording the creative process

A reader writes:

How do you do the web pages? (With a HTML editor? By hand?)

What is the purpose of those two small background-coloured images
that appear just before the strip and just after the navigation bar?

Is there a reason why so many of your web pages are green?

I don't know PHP (I don't even know what the acronym stands for) yet. I've typed the code for every page on this site myself in the Windows text editor. Every day I must edit or create the pages for the archive, the new cartoon, the previous day's cartoon and the cartoon before that, in order to update all links properly. I've started on earning a webmaster certificate, but till that's done... Still 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), so even when I learn fancier code my look may not change much.

The question the tiny, camouflaged GIFs are there to answer was: If I need to put advertising on the site to defray bandwidth costs before I learn PHP or something like it, how will I place ads on archive pages without editing every single page every time an ad changes? What didn't occur to me till later is that replacing those GIFs with ad banners would fail to create clickable links to the advertisers' websites, which renders the procedure useless for its intended purpose. Oh, well; they're there to stay now.

I use green backgrounds because I read that green's the color easiest on the eyes.

[posted on page for 6/9/04]

Even as I compose these words I'm uncertain I'll actually upload this.

The cartoon above isn't the version I originally updated with on June 9, 2004 and left here for a month and a half afterwards. The version below is. The version below has composition problems that gnawed at me every time I looked at it, and that (as you can see) are not at all difficult to fix. I finally sat down and fixed them.

But there's an assumed immutability to a fiction property that's been set down in print or onscreen or online. Fred Gallagher ranted once about the responsibility webcartoonists may or may not have to their readers not to revise their archives as they go along (more of an issue with a continuity strip like his than with daily humor like mine). The South Park guys are only the highest-profile movie fans I know of, out of those who object to "special edition" revisions of films we all grew up with. I don't share these opinions; I believe any fiction property worth having is worth refining - hence the present exercise. But there are still disagreements even in arthurian scholarship whether the version of Malory that Caxton printed is the "real" Le Morte d'Arthur, or whether it's the manuscript Caxton worked from that was rediscovered about seventy years ago. People like definitiveness, and ever since technology, in the form of the printing press, allowed entertainment to be mass-produced people've been mistaking fiction for something that's set in stone rather than in mind.

However that's not why I'm reluctant to go through with this. I'm reluctant because I'm not certain I want to set the precedent with myself that I'll spend time working over past cartoons I'm dissatisfied with instead of working ahead, notwithstanding that it didn't bother me to do so on my previous website.

If you're reading this, you know what I decided. (This time anyway.)


If you've tried to get to College Roommates from Hell!!! by the link below on previous pages, it's corrected now.


A reader writes

You used too many gag comics early on. It seems you have a story to tell, and the gags are fine for breaking up the pace later on. But you first have to establish a pace.

But Arthur, King of Time and Space is meant to be a daily gag cartoon.

I have a story to tell, yes, but more a history - being retold in realtime - than a novel. I'm working less from a plot outline than from a calendar of landmark events. Gags relate back and forth frequently right now because a legend acquires a fair amount of introductory exposition in fifteen hundred years. But if I'm giving the impression that this is meant to be a continuity cartoon, then I'm throwing the exposition at the readers too fast. I was afraid of that and I'll stop now. The third week presently wrapping up is a better measure of things to come in this regard than are the weeks before it.

(Some days I think I ought've just started the strip in medias res, in the sort of chronostasis which superheroes and James Bond live in: the realm stable, the Round Table order established, the love affair between Guenevere and Lancelot old news and cheerfully overlooked by everyone but the villains... I could still do it, too. I know how I could make the conversion without breaking continuity.)

On the other hand, I did start this strip expecting it to evolve in some ways I hadn't necessarily planned or would not have preferred if asked in advance. Stay tuned.


Thursday morning (Central US time) I finally announced this webcomic to the Arthurian internet forums I frequent. I was waiting till I had a minimally substantial archive from which the full nature of the cartoon could hopefully be extrapolated. I wondered whether the day before the above gag was quite the right time, but the opportunity knocked.

The announcement was precipitated by the discussion on one forum of the History Channel's plethora of Arthuriana this month, no doubt hoping to ride the marketing coattails of next month's Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster. I expect Arthurians will like King Arthur in Time and Space more than they expect they'll like the movie. I guess I was making snarky remarks about it when we saw a tv ad the other day, because my wife responded, "Your stuff isn't exactly canonical* either." The difference, though, is that I don't pretend that mine is the "true, untold story" but Bruckheimer does, and that irks those of us who know better (while we nevertheless acknowledge that a hit movie could spark genuine interest in the genuine classics). Well, there'll be more on that in the Sunday strip the movie's premiere weekend.

* Canonical and canon, referring to the works recognized by an organized religious faith as its true scriptures, began many, many years ago to be used by Sherlock Holmes fans to refer to Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. The concept is today used by screen series' fans, which is appropriate because arguments over which/whether tie-ins are canon get quite religiously humorless and acrimonious. Arthuriana, on the other hand, doesn't actually have a canon; only sources and classics. Let that be a lesson to you, screen series fans, if you want the inspiration of your passion to still be remembered fifteen hundred years from now. (I can't believe I'm having this much trouble keeping a footnote shorter than the essay it's footnoting.)


Son of recording the creative process

Remember when I was writing my first medieval arc week and wrote here of difficulties I was having with it? Part of the problem, I think today, is that I'd misnamed the arc. I've let the bloody historians distract me.

I don't want to shock anyone, but I didn't create Arthur, King of Time and Space for the purpose of the scientific propagation of history. The people whose interest in the legends is to prove that Arthur really existed are welcome to their passion, but I think at the end of the day they're missing the point (for reasons which I think are obvious but in any case are tangential to the present discussion). If there was a historical Arthur he lived about A.D. 500; whereas the legendary Arthur is pictured by Malory, his immediate predecessors, and (until relatively recently) his successors as a man of the middle ages. I started referring to the baseline arc (see the previous essay for the definition and purpose of the baseline arc) with the word medieval to draw a line between this work and the historians'. But now I think it was goof to choose a term adversarial to Arthurians of the historical school ... that is, a goof to choose a historical term at all. Inadvertently constraining myself to any historical period is at odds to my purpose of retelling a legend that has traveled so much farther than any history that may have given rise to it.

I wrote today's gag after I decided this arc is the fairy tale arc.


Meet Sir Balin.

Balin is a set of contradictions in Malory. He's the best knight in the world - before Lancelot grows up - yet everything he does comes out wrong in the end because of his rigid adherence to the chivalric code. (We know he's the best knight in the world because Merlin tells us, and Merlin's whole purpose of existence as a character is to tell us true things.) In the end he gets himself killed over it only a few pages after he's introduced, having done nothing important to later events that couldn't have been told in flashback when those later events come to the fore.

He could easily be left out of a retelling of the legend, and often is. I decided his tendency to muck things up might be a good running gag; then I thought of something I could actually use him for, down the road. However, when he's introduced in Malory, he's just been released from prison for having killed one of the king's kinsmen. What the? How does the best knight in the world come to kill one of the kinsmen of the king, especially a new king who was his predecessor's only heir? Well, by being an idiot.


Bride of son of [i.e., daughter-in-law of] recording the creative process

Early on I wrote of having a week's cushion worked ahead. More recently I wrote of keeping better to my originally intended daily standalone gag format. I didn't say so then but that meant postponing indefinitely a half a dozen gags I'd already drawn, already scanned and already put through post-production (coloring and lettering).

It also meant I ultimately uploaded a cartoon that day that I'd drawn within the previous twenty-four hours, for the first time ever at Arthur, King of Time and Space.

I'd missed that kind of spontaneity. There's nothing else exactly like the thrill of making deadline with a cartoon that you hadn't even written when you woke up. The comfortable cushion was disallowing that.

Though it's still there sort of. One of those old cushion gags was used that week anyway, because it stood alone well enough and fit then, but the rest - as well as some quick-and-dirty gags I'm drawing expressly for this purpose - serve as cushion against days when I can't make deadline, cuz everyone has those days even if I haven't yet.

Today's cartoon was completed two hours before deadline. It would have been four hours, but awhile after I uploaded it I decided it needed two more panels than this version:

Draft cartoon


I can't make up my mind, readers. Do I need a cast-of-characters page like other webcomic sites have? What do you think?


Per votecount from that portion of the readership that responded to my query, there's now a castpage.


We saw King Arthur Saturday. It bears about as much resemblance to previous legends as it does to what's known of history. It's a new legend. I think that's a good thing.


The cast of characters page is now a cast and FAQ page.


God-Emperor of recording the creative process

The problem I'm feeling with the baseline arc right now is that in Malory events proceed pretty directly from the sword in the stone to the battle of Bedegraine, whereas I mean to leave a year between them. As a result, since the strip's major characters besides Arthur and Merlin have yet to be properly introduced to the fairy tale arc, its gags are all falling into one of a few categories of filler sorta gags.

Initially there were lots of gags about difficulties with subject kings, but those seemed to make Arthur, King of Time and Space look like a continuity strip instead of daily humor so I stopped them. There've been one or two gags incorporating magical elements to remind us that this is a fairy tale world. And there've been gags to quickly introduce us to characters who are important later, like King Ban of Benwick (who actually shouldn't have come into the baseline arc so early, which is why I sent him back home), Sir Balin, King Pellinore and King Bagdemagus. But as I said once before I haven't a lot of experience setting daily gags in a fairy tale world, and I'm now flailing around a bit when I try.

I could make the fairy tale arc focus more on secondary characters that have already been introduced (Has anyone here unfamiliar with the legends picked up that Ector is Arthur's foster father? Has anyone picked up which character is the face that goes with the name Ector?), but I recall having rejected that option once already on the principle that a new webcomic mustn't have too confusingly large a regular cast. I could bring in Lancelot's and Guenevere's fathers, Arthur's allies, to fill the dramatic ecological niches they're filling themselves in the other arcs, but that'd mean bringing Ban back before Bedegraine. I could avoid the baseline arc mostly or entirely till Bedegraine but that doesn't seem just (or, as a fairy tale arc character might say, meet).

I guess I keep flailing till I hit something.


This is a pun. This is only a pun. Had this been a real commentary on Farenheit 9/11 you would have received expressions of actual opinions. This has been a pun. Thank you.


Heretics of recording the creative process

Two days ago I wrote in this space of the baseline arc having to flail for a year till the battle of Bedegraine because in Malory the battle followed right on Arthur's coronation.

Then I went back and rechecked something, and I'd remembered correctly (if belatedly): In Malory there are two battles between Arthur's allies and Lot's allies. Bedegraine comes fast on the coronation, and Arthur wins with the help of his French allies despite being outnumbered, because then Lot and his fellow rebel subject kings are obliged to back off due to an invasion back home. Then there's another battle some time later, finally putting paid to the subject kings' rebellion.

Since in the baseline arc I've sorta missed the proper time for the battle of Bedegraine, I'm going to leave it out and proceed from here, but when Malory's conclusive battle appears in the baseline arc it'll be called/placed at Bedegraine. Since Malorian immediate post-Bedegraine events involve Ban, in the baseline arc those events've now overtaken him, before he got out of Britain for my having sent him home last baseline arc week which I've now decided I oughtn't've done. Since Ban and his brother Bors both were important in the Malorian battle at Bedegraine, they'll be back in a year for the Arthur, King of Time and Space battle of Bedegraine. With those patches, events in the baseline arc are pretty much back on track with Malory - including the imminent introduction of at least one of the characters whose lack I was bemoaning before.


Of the six main characters of Arthur, King of Time and Space, only one wasn't introduced in the first four days. Nimue wasn't to come into the projected AKOTAS order of events for years, because when she does it's the end of Merlin, at least [spoiler deleted]. But it's been eating at me. Well, now she's in at least the contemporary arc, with an avenue for cameo appearances in the space arc. (Except now she won't be back till next week because contemporary Merlin had plans to go out of town for the weekend [come back tomorrow to see what that means]).

I think today's cartoon captures the scope of AKOTAS better than any single installment since the first. But then, it had to.


For non-comics-fans: Where Arthur and Merlin have gone is this weekend's annual San Diego Comics Convention. Merlin's friends are other webcomic artists.


I'm going to be out of town for the weekend. I have cartoons uploaded and ready to go, and I think I've got remote updating figured out but we'll see. Even so I may not be punctual. Worst case scenario is, all the cartoons for tomorrow through Monday go up at once sometime Monday morning GMT.

Also, welcome to the first new genre arc since the three majors debuted. I stalled out for weeks after writing this gag, then wrote the next five all in a day or two.


College Roommates from Hell!!! abandoned the .com version of its URL within the last week. If you're some future AKOTAS reader who's been trying to link to CRFH!!! from earlier-dated pages here, try again.


This'd already been long scripted as a four-panel gag when I realized it'd been scheduled for a Sunday. Hence the flashforwards for padding. Sundays are for experimenting and playing around anyway.


This gag is derived, rather from anything about the Round Table's origin in the sources, from the fact that the table in the last panel of yesterday's cartoon sure doesn't look like it could seat 150. In fact the question of how a single table could seat so many can be a subject of lively debate. More on the nature of the Round Table tomorrow.


The bit about the Last Supper and Joseph of Arimathea's first Grail Castle in Britain is from the Old French Vulgate Cycle (one of Malory's sources). And I note that most movie Round Tables I can think of - Camelot, First Knight, King Arthur - look about the size to fit thirteen.


It's just like this in Malory. He goes on for pages and pages with a play-by-play description of the battle of Bedegraine - but, against Royns, Arthur and his allies kill ten thousand men in a sentence.

Besides, I hate crowd scenes. This is bad enough.


All right, so I was worried this transition would confuse people. But this is your first and last gimme. From now on you get to keep up on your own.


Someone on Comixpedia posted the question in a forum, "Finish this sentence: It pisses me off when ..."

I wrote:
"... webcartoonists apologize in their rant section for missing updates. It's not the missed updates that gripe me (except in the cases of Fred or Pete or Randy or someone else whose webcomic is their day job), it's the apologies. You'll never see an apology on my site for missed updates, if there even ever are some. I want my readers to realize that if I've missed a day, or a week, or a month, it's because I'm hospitalized or in mourning or dead myself. (Or, perhaps, unpredictably without net access; though, for that in these times to last more'n twelve hours, there'd have to be a natural disaster or something involved.)"


* Now talking in #drwhochat
* The_42nd_Doctor reads the backlog of Arthur
[The_42nd_Doctor] Paul: how come Arthur has no pants in the middle frame
[scarfman] Because he's wearing the same style uniform as Guenevere is. Are.
[scarfman] Notice he also has a scoop neckline
[The_42nd_Doctor] okay, I wasn't sure if it was deliberate or not.
[scarfman] Surely it'd be more likely to thoughtlessly put pants on someone
 who usually wears them than to thoughtlessly leave them off
[The_42nd_Doctor] This is true.
[The_42nd_Doctor] I just had flashbacks to Aragorn in the Bakshi LOTR cartoon.
[scarfman] 42: Did Backshi forget to give Aragorn pants?
[The_42nd_Doctor] Paul: Forgot or decided against. Or maybe it's
 skin-coloured pants that are really tight.


I'm planning to buy a banner ad on one of the webcomic or webcomic-interest sites I read. I have these questions to poll the readership:

1. What do you think should be going on in Arthur, King of Time and Space continuity as a hook when the ad is running? Should the ad link to the current cartoon or to the first one?

2. What do you think of this ad? Anything else should it have?

test ad

3. If you also know any or all of the webcomic sites in my links section below, where do you think I ought to place my ad? If you think it'd pay to advertise on an Arthurian site, do you have one to recommend? Are there Arthurian sites that sell ad space?

Email me with your suggestions. Thanks.


The virus spambots have discovered this @ddress. If you email me don't include an attachment, or I may delete your mail without checking what it is.


You've probably noticed that each of the major characters of Arthur, King of Time and Space has been assigned a wardrobe color from the color wheel, to be in assistance of character identification between genre arcs.

There's a display of incense at the nearby new age shop. The display has a color key. This is what the color key has to say about the six colors from the color wheel. Some of it's off, but the last one particularly seems spot on to me.

Green Finance / Fertility / Luck
(Dark) Blue Impulsiveness / Depression / Changeability / Finance / Fertility / Luck
Purple Calling the powers of the Ancient Ones / Sigils / Runes / Government
Red Strength / Health / Vigor / Love
Orange Material gain / To seal a spell / Attraction
Yellow Attraction / Persuasion / Charm / Confidence / Wisdom


I ought've mentioned yesterday that I encountered the incense display color guide only after I'd made the AKOTAS color assignments.

Here was what I was thinking: Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot are the three major characters, so they ought to get the primary colors. Gender distribution is two and one; "warm" and "cool" color distribution is two and one respectively - Guenevere gets the cool primary color, blue. Yellow is more, pardon the rhyme, mellow than red - Arthur gets yellow and Lancelot gets red.

Secondary colors go to Merlin, Morgan and Nimue. Gender distribution happens to be opposite to the primary color characters, so each secondary character was assigned the complement - the color opposite it on the color wheel - to the color of the primary character who, of the three opposite-gender characters among the six, has the least to do with the particular secondary character. Morgan is Arthur's sister and Merlin's apprentice - she gets green, the complement of Lancelot's color, red.* Merlin is master to both Morgan and Nimue - he gets orange, the complement of Guenevere's color, blue. Nimue is Merlin's apprentice and lover, and (in some versions) Lancelot's mother or foster mother (which is how she's Lady of the Lake and he's "du Lac") - she gets violet or purple, the complement of Arthur's color, yellow. So primary characters got primary colors and secondary characters got secondary colors, and males all got warm colors and females all got cool colors.

Supporting characters get variations on these colors depending on their relationship to the leads. Gawaine and his siblings are in a yellow-green because they're Morgan's and Arthur's nephews; their father Lot's in yellow-green, but Morgause is in a dark green because she's more Arthur's enemy than Morgan is. Ban and Leodogrance and their men and their halls wear their offsprings' colors. Arthur's foster family wear yellow or the olive-drab that yellow becomes when you mix black with it. Pellinore's in a sort of light indigo, because indigo will be Sir Pelleas' color when he takes up with Nimue after Merlin's death, and from their names they must be related.** But that's getting ahead of myself - there are plently of color assignments besides Pelleas' for characters yet to debut (actually Pelleas has had a quick cameo), and you'll learn their colors then.

* Now I think twice, I think I assigned Morgan green first and Lancelot and Arthur their respective primary colors in relation to that, because green is the color of Faerie.
** I balked at giving Pelleas orange after Merlin's death, even though after a fashion he'll be taking Merlin's niche. Or rather, he'll move into Nimue's niche when she moves into Merlin's, but I wasn't willing to give Nimue orange and Pelleas purple either, because that muddled up the primary-secondary character-color relationships. But, I thought, while there are only six colors in the color wheel, those six colors are also in the rainbow, along with a seventh, indigo. Thus, Pelleas' color.


Hello to those who're checking out Arthur, King of Time and Space in response to the ad that started running at Comixpedia this week. Pull up a chair, relax, and if you have a good time please spread the word.


You may have noticed that the Webcomics I read section of this page has been expanding.

There's a new guy taking the webcomics culture by storm, at A coupla weeks ago this Eric Burns (I keep thinking I know, or know of, someone else named Eric Burns - but then I'm past that age when all names start to sound familiar) started a blog about webcomics. Snarky as he may be, he writes well and he has many true things to say. I've been checking him out daily for at least a week now and I'm not the only one.

The idea for which I particularly am indebted to him is one of those Why didn't I see it myself? things. One of those concepts that are so mind-blowingly obvious that people overlook them. It is, simply:

I don't have to read all my daily webcomics in one session during the day.

This revelation (combined with a restructuring of the logistics for maintaining my reading list, with which I shall not bore you) has made me less reluctant than I'd been lately to add new titles to my daily or weekly reading list, and I've gone back to collect some that I encountered during my spell of reluctance which I nevertheless kept returning to.

I've also added Websnark itself to my links list. I was avoiding it till now, because I know he googles to see who's linking to him. Either I'm afraid linking to him will seem (or be) an immodest attempt to get him reading Arthur, King of Time and Space and recommending it, or I'm afraid he'll read it and recommend against it. But one can't live in fear. Besides, neglecting to list him where I otherwise list things I read daily is misrepresentative.

Look, Eric! A cast page!


One of the first things I do when I discover a new webcomic, if it's old enough, is I see what's in the archives for the week of 9/11/01. It seems to me that the best writers tend to have responded to the event only after several days' contemplation, or not directly at all.

Then I look at the week of my birthday 1999 for reaction to Charles Schulz' retirement announcement, and the week of Valentine's Day 2000 for reaction to his death.

(And, recently, I've been looking at Arthur, King of Time and Space's debut date too ...)


Yes, King Arthur really had a dog in the classical sources. It's in The Once and Future King too (most notably in the posthumously published fifth volume The Book of Merlin). I did not swipe the dog-on-a-starship motif from Star Trek: Enterprise.

Its red eyes and ears are classical too. Some sources attribute them to the faerie king's hounds but some to Arthur's.


Yes, this is the baseline arc. Yes, the "False" Guenevere is from the classic romances. No, she's not a sendup of Naomi in Striptease or of Miranda in PvP. The False Guenevere dates back to the twelfth century. I could make a humorously-intended snarky remark alleging that Chris and Scott stole my character, but I daresay they and the French romanticists were just mining the same archetypes.

So blame Jung.


All due respect to the French romanticists, but I thought identical half-sisters were a bit much disbelief to suspend for the contemporary arc. Here they're full sisters. Of course, in the space arc, [spoiler deleted].

Which meant, in the contemporary arc they can't both be named Guenevere (Leodogrance may be unimaginative, but he's not that unimaginative). In the Mabinogion Guenevere's sister is named Gwenhwyvach.

(You may have noticed that this week isn't actually the False Guenevere's first appearance in Arthur, King of Time and Space. She's in one of the flashforwards in this gag.)


Anybody else look at the 20th's Real Life and think Greg was taking a reciprocal poke at me for mine at him of the 18th ... until you saw the punchline?

But it still makes me wonder whether he reads.


Recording the creative process - roundup

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.


At least one reader has discerned the surprise I'd been afraid I'd given away in The One When Fasha Tries to Flimflam Arthur. I think I'll run that denoument this weekend instead of waiting till Christmas vacation.


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.


Fixwit the modular mechanical intelligence was a character conceived for the original 1970s The War of Whant but who never actually appeared in it - perhaps because he may only have the one gag in him.


This is the twist I said I was afraid I'd given away in a previous cartoon: contemporary Guenevere and her family are what some people still call nudists. I'm not, but I spent three semesters figure drawing from live models at the American Academy of Art, and I miss it. (That's also why Arthur and Merlin spent the last week of summer vacation at the creek.)


The birthmark, by the way, is from classical sources.


This's an outtake from this cartoon.


A loyal reader writes:
I would find it helpful, and there may be other readers too, if you
put the date of the current strip in the text of the page as well as
in the image. (For one thing, we wouldn't have to wait for the strip
to load to see if it had updated yet.)

Is waiting for the strip to load that much of an issue? It surprises me because I was under the impression that my filesizes are about half most webcomics' ... and perhaps because I blithely, incorrectly assume that everyone's got about as fast a connection as I do. I'd like to hear from readers on this, both yes and no.

Now what I as a reader do in a case like this - with, e.g., PvP and Something Positive - is I postpone daily reading till later in the day when I know or can be reasonably sure the update'll be up. As readers of my text section know, I try to update at 0000 GMT, but I'm frequently late because that's the dinner hour in my time zone. However I'm rarely more'n two hours late and never more'n four hours late. 0400 GMT should be good any day.

It's definitely flattering that, for one person at the least, waiting while the graphic file loads to find out whether there's an update is significant enough a hardship to mention. Especially since that allows one to extrapolate that waiting four hours later each day would also be a significant hardship. But, since I hand-code, adding the date globally would entail one more thing to have to remember every day. Nevertheless barring prohibitive inconvenience I'll bow to the majority of expressed reader opinions on readability issues.


A distinct advantage to mousework over penwork is it allows for composing the picture directly on the space where it'll be presented, instead of composing it on another space and wondering whether it'll fit the presentation space as you're imagining and intending once it's imported over there.


Recording the creative process and Robin

When I was working up the Arthur, King of Time and Space concept and built a sample site for friends to comment on, one comment was the suggestion to stick to genre arcs in less confusing weekly increments (as opposed to jumping arcs daily as the sample site cartoons did). I decided that was a wise suggestion, at least initially. As time's gone on I've felt less constrained to do so, though I don't think I've run any strings of less than four or five days (with the obvious exceptions of gags that cut away to another arc for one or two panels just for the setup or punchline). I trust you guys to keep up.

I'm finding it easier to write for the contemporary arc than the others. This is unsurprising, since it draws on my own environment, but is also surprising, since the space arc is most similar to the King Arthur work I was doing on the project before this (see What's your experience? on the FAQ page) so I expected it to be my favorite.

Also I think it's time to bring in a second second-rank arc besides the western arc, so I plan to do it this month sometime - say, after I decide what genre it ought to be. There's been a vote for caveman...

It occurs to me that Lancelot claimed to be a teetotaller in the western arc the other day, yet in his very first appearance in that arc he was doing a shot in a bar. That's the sort of thing that drives fanboys crazy. Oh, well!


I vaguely recall that I spelled saloon with three Os in the first western arc cartoon on purpose - or at least that I noticed the error and elected to let it pass. In any case, today's cartoon is the result of a reader bringing it back to my attention.


All right, I know I just the other day put forward that I don't run a genre arc less than three or four days in a row, and now I've switched from the space arc after two days. The demands of topicality must needs. And it's not as if the transition isn't obvious (or at least more obvious than the one I was worried about here).

I wonder if the people I chat with who read Arthur, King of Time and Space are tiring of already having seen the joke.


Note the flashback being in sepia. I've also gone back and changed the previous instance of flashback which had originally been in full color. The older one has a different look; the reason for that is, with it, I was trying to match in brown the values of already existing colors, whereas for today's I started with an uncolored panel and only whipped up enough different-valued brown as I needed for sufficient contrast.

Later: I changed my mind. Flashbacks shouldn't be in sepia when flashforwards aren't similarly differentiated.


One of the reasons fanfiction has the undeserved bad rap it possesses is a phenomenon known as Mary Sue, in which (briefly) the writer inserts among the characters of the beloved copyrighted property a new character for the writer to identify with. Everybody does it, usually when they're new writers, and consequently a Mary Sue story is usually (not always, but usually) horribly written and a Mary Sue character unreasonably, undramatically talented, skilled, accomplished and charming.

However not all fanfiction stories are Mary Sues - and not all Mary Sues are fanfiction. Comixpedia this week has a link to a webpage comprising a suggested Original Fiction Mary-Sue Litmus Test. I decided to run Arthur through it. Like golf, high score is bad; listed here are only the questions Arthur scores on or that I had to think twice about.

Does the character have the name she/he has because she/he is or corresponds to a mythological figure (e.g. Oberon, Adonis, Iblis, the archangel Michael, etc.)? [1 point] Okay, yes. I'm tempted to score only half a point, since I'm retelling the myth, but there is the whole jumping-around-in-time thing, so I'll play by the rules.

Is the character a teenager or in her/his early twenties? [2 points] Uh, at the moment, yes, though that's because I'm telling his life story and started at the beginning. Another temptation to halve the score, but no, full score.

Are one or more other characters attracted to her/him? [1 point] Yes, Guenevere and Morgan both are or eventually will be attracted to Arthur personally (rather than merely pursuing the High Queenship). Good thing the score isn't a point per attracted person.

Does the character have an appearance unsuited to the time or place (e.g. perfect hair prior to the invention of shampoo, a woman wearing pants in 1805, etc.)? [5 points] Uh ... I was going to score Arthur on this one, but on second thought his hair and appearance are no more anachronistic than anyone else's in the strip, so no score.

Does the character have a clone or identical twin? [7 points] Near miss! His future wife does. No score.

Is the character related to royalty? [4 points] Um. He's not related, he is. So's everyone else. No score.

Was the character an illegitimate birth? [1 point] Only in the accusations of his rivals for the throne. No score.

Does the character consider her/his beauty/talent/skill/etc. a curse? [5 points] Arthur never expected or wanted to be king. Five points.

Does the character have a faithful pet or animal familiar? [1 point] That isn't a dog, cat, horse, or bird? [3 points] One point.

Does the character "just know things"? [2 points] Arthur's very intuitive in war or politics, though he hasn't really had to call on it yet.

Does the character have a major quirk in common with you? [2 points] Contemporary Arthur is a prospective cartoonist though there's nothing in the legends about Arthur being an artist. Two points.

Does the character have any particular skill at which she/he is widely known to be the best or among the best? [6 points] Um, another near miss - that is, or will be, Lancelot.

Is the character, or was she/he ever... (add points for all that apply)

  • A hero? [2 points] Two points.
  • An explorer? [2 points]Two points (space arc).

Does the character share more than one of your hobbies or interests? [1 point] Well, contemporary Arthur is a prospective cartoonist, a prospective screen actor and a screen sf fan. One point.

Does the character have the same taste in music as you have? [1 point] In books? [1 point] In movies? [1 point] [Add another 5 points if you said yes to all three.] Eight points.

Does the character have the same religious or spiritual beliefs as you? [2 points] Huh. I'm not sure. No score.

Have all of the other characters heard of her/him? [2 points] He's their king, dammit. No score.

Do all of the other characters end up liking/respecting/fearing her/him? [3 points] Well, he's their king. Er, I suppose that doesn't mean they have to be impressed. Three points.

Do all of the other characters like/respect/fear her/him immediately? [4 points] No score.

Does the character reform a villainous character? [3 points] Nnnguhh spoiler, three points.

Does the character die a romantic death (e.g. suicide, execution, battle wounds, broken heart, etc.)? [5 points] Battle wounds, five points.

Does the character die in her/his beloved's arms? [6 points]Nnnguhh three points (half score).

Did you cry while writing any scene involving the character? [10 points] I think I have, though not necessarily on this project, yet. Ten points.

Do you draw the character, or ask other people to draw her/him for you? [2 points] It's a webcomic, dammit. No score.

Is the character someone you would want to be friends with, assuming she/he would be receptive to friendship with you? [2 points] What do you mean, "assuming"? Arthur likes everyone ... same as me ... Two points.

Do you take any negative feedback about the character as a personal affront? [4 points] Ask again when I've had any. No score.

That's all the questions. Arthur's final score is 53. According to the scoring on the webpage: 51-60 points: Uber-Sue. You've got one hell of a Mary-Sue on your hands here, and it's not going to be easy to set things right. But do your best. There may be hope for you yet.

All right, let's try it again but leave out scores Arthur gets on account of things that came with him before I started writing him: the five points for dying of battle wounds, the one point for having a dog, the ten points for crying while writing (something I've never done writing characters I created myself), etc. Now I come up with a total of 21, about which the scoring says: 21-30 points: The Non-Sue. Your character is a well-developed, balanced person, and is almost certainly not a Mary Sue. Congratulations!

So the qualities Arthur has that make him a cliche are, by and large, ones he brings with him to my webcomic from the myths. Well, duh. After all, where do cliches come from?


Arthur, King of Time and Space


Welcome to the new movie parody arc. For the next week or so the cast of Arthur, King of Time and Space will be having their wacky way with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I had been expecting at least one of several particular readers (you know who you are) to write before now to ask whether the cartoon in the text section of Monday's page was a sneak preview of the new arc I promised earlier in the month, but I guess that's only because I knew it was.


Here's a gag you couldn't put in just any sendup of Lord of the Rings. In the King Arthur legends the lead hero is the one who has a magic sword and the supporting hero is the one on the magic object quest, whereas in Lord of the Rings that's transposed.


This gag has been on my mind for almost three years. I don't understand how it is I've never seen it anywhere else.


The Faramir stand-in is Nimue's future husband Sir Pelleas, who appeared previously in Arthur, King of Time and Space once on account of time travel.


Events from Le Morte d'Arthur again. Except in Le Morte d'Arthur Arthur let Lot and his allies lie in the beds they'd made. But Arthur the character as he's evolved since 1485 is a bigger man than that; and/or more practical than to allow an invasion even in enemies' lands or to allow the political advantage of showing up his enemies to pass.

I briefly considered replacing Malory's Saracens with more historically accurate Saxons. Nah.


Remember a month and a half ago when I discussed Websnark? Friday he posted a list of webcomics his readers have recommended to him which he hasn't yet had the chance to check out. Arthur, King of Time and Space was on it, alongside things like Count Your Sheep and Homestar Runner and Striptease that win awards. If he tries Arthur, King of Time and Space and likes it then my readership could suddenly get very large. And maybe stay large. Hell, I should go check my stats now.

Recording the creative process reloaded

Today's is another strip originally scripted as four panels that ended up falling on a Sunday. Unlike the last time this happened I decided not to fill this one out with extra added material - just not to constrain myself to weekday panel size. In the battle to experiment with Sunday strips there are no rules.

In other recording of the creative process: How obvious is it that some of the colors I use vary? When I've assigned to a character's clothes or hair a color that isn't part of the default MSPaint pallette, I don't always remember the next time what its mix numbers were. I know I do it with the color Gawaine and Lot and Gawaine's brothers wear. And I've just realized that Uriens' hair has been subject to the same inconsistency. Well, I've been expanding the white streaks in Uriens' hair anyway so they hopefully don't look so much like, as one loyal reader has suggested, some passing bird's target practice - maybe Uriens will just go all white by the time we see him next. I've already thought of an in-story explanation for it.


A belated nod to Nth Degree the conventioners' fanzine, which as of this month is bringing Arthur, King of Time and Space into print form, alongside such webcomics as Bob the Angry Flower and Partially Clips.


I feel a little badly.

Yeah, I'm kinda poking at Greg Dean again, like I was a month ago. When he solicited guest strips for his trip to the Comicon in July he specifically ruled out stuff done on MSPaint, which I stick with for my reasons, and it's looking like I may never get over that. But that's not what I feel badly about.

I didn't write today's gag with the intent of assembling it cut-and-paste from the other gag. Now, I don't think of cut-and-paste as cheating in the first place as do some webcomic artists and readers. When I do it, it's for effect. Timing. Remember the classic 70s Doonesbury strip from the storyline when Roland Burton Hedley, Jr., was introduced, when his coworker asked him what he'd covered at the Saigon bureau? Remember how the third panel of four had no dialog? Timing. Even if I'd drawn new "rushes" to scan for today's cartoon, the first three panels would have been identical or nearly identical as they are now. And, as I'm fond of saying, often (though not this time) when cut-and-paste panels are only nearly identical, it takes more time fine-tuning the differences than it'd've taken to draw and scan all the panels seperately. But anyway it's the writing that's the really hard part, as Fred Gallagher once observed at a con panel he shared with Greg Dean who cuts-and-pastes the grand majority of the time stop that.*

But I didn't draw new rushes today. When I looked back at the earlier cartoon to remind myself how I draw Greg's room, the little lightbulb went on over my head, and next thing I knew I'd pieced together today's cartoon in a fraction of the time taken by the average weekday Arthur, King of Time and Space - perhaps only ten minutes. That's what I feel badly about. Because, see ...

Readers of this site and/or my forum posts in webcomics communities will see not-infrequent allusions to my personal website (as opposed to this, technically and perhaps one day genuinely commercial, website) with fanfiction on it; sometimes I refer to it as "my previous [webcomic] project". People may infer that it's stopped updating and perhaps been taken down. It's not. I have a great love and respect for fanfiction, and believe that it is and of a right ought to be fair use as provided for by copyright law, as parody is. (I however haven't the resources to test that conviction in court so, since Arthur, King of Time and Space derives pretty obviously from some of that work, I don't link to that site from this one. If somehow you're someone who didn't follow me here from that site, and you're really interested, just feed my last name into Google.) And I never intended to stop updating the cartoons there even after starting this website last May - I just always take summers off there "like a real tv show" and, from Arthur, King of Time and Space's launch date until about a month ago, it was on its annual summer hiatus.

I really missed it, not least because the style of the cartoons there is very different from the style of these and I like it a lot though some don't. As I warned its readers last May, I no longer commit to updating there daily - but I've come close some weeks. And I've learned the HTML for tables, which allowed me to reorganize some pages there that needed it (I've been hand-coding that site since the mid-90s). And I've recently discovered (if I was notified, I somehow missed it) that my ISP there has upped its personal user acounts' webserver diskspace to the point that I could now archive all my fanfiction webcomics on my site instead of making the old ones rotate. And that has led to the planning of a redesign of the whole website incorporating the navigation conventions of webcomics culture as never before. (I should mention all this there, but that website hasn't got a news section.) Not to mention that Doctor Who is coming back to broadcast in 2005 after sixteen years.

So (and this, finally, is what I feel badly about) I've been very distracted from Arthur, King of Time and Space lately. And I'm afraid it shows. I don't know whether it shows (though two fillers in the space of less than two weeks must have tipped off some of you) but I'm afraid it does. And I can't help it because I do love my fanfiction. Arthur, King of Time and Space came from fanfiction; it is fanfiction. But my muse's been playing in this sandbox all summer and now she wants a turn in the other one.

So I'm having a rough stretch here. That happens to webcartoonists, and I knew it happens when I started here because after all I already was one. That doesn't mean I have to like it. But I hope you'll bear with me, or if you go away you'll come back later. I suggest mid-December, or next May at the latest.

But I still have something new that I genuinely think is funny here every day.

* Please note below that Greg Dean's is the webcomic I save for last every weekday morning. Greg's also the only webcartoonist Merlin's been portrayed as pals with besides Scott Kurtz whom I save for last every day.


Tristram's first Arthur, King of Time and Space appearance was in the parody arc in the part of Legolas (to which he momentarily returned yesterday - I didn't expect to go there again but puns will out). Those of you who remember what his name means may recently have spotted him in the contemporary arc.

Sir Tristram's chronology confounds Le Morte d'Arthur scholars. On the one hand, the events in Le Morte d'Arthur are apparently told in simple chronological order. On the other hand, despite a few earlier cameo appearances, Tristram's birth isn't recorded until halfway through the book. Then in his adventures he encounters Sir Caradoc, who was killed picking a fight with Lancelot about a quarter-book before Tristram's birth. Let's just say that Tristram's timeline's relation to Arthur's is open to interpretation. (Not to be unexpected: like Merlin's, Tristram's story cycle was conflated with Arthur's after many years' seperate existence.)

One thing I do recall is that, despite already being one of Arthur's knights by the time of Arthur's war against the Roman emperor Lucius, Tristram declines to go on that campaign because of his love for Isolde, which ticks Lancelot off until he starts an affair with his own lord's wife and begins to understand. Therefore Tristram is already estabished at Arthur's court relatively early on. So here we have Tristram in AKOTAS.

Logically, and if I remember correctly according to Le Morte d'Arthur, Tristram will not have joined Arthur's court until he's been exiled from Mark's court as a result of Mark finding out about him and Isolde. (Not that any actual, technical state of exile exists: Tristram leaves Mark's court because Mark chases him out with a sword in his hand.) Which would mean the events of some half of Tristram's story cycle have already occurred and AKOTAS has skipped over them. This could suit me; Tristram's story isn't a favorite of mine, being just Lancelot's story if Arthur were a bounder instead of a great man (or, as some would have it, instead of a fool).

But Mark is a bounder, and paranoid about Tristram's superior prowess besides. I could decide later that Tristram is exiled now due to Mark's jealousy - which did happen at least once - and that Mark's discovery of the lovers is still in AKOTAS's future.

First, probably, I should decide - since the sources vary - whether Mark is a duke or a king. Say, it'd be just like him to be a duke who calls himself a king ...


A reader has gone to Wikipedia and created an entry for Arthur, King of Time and Space. Wikipedia is an online user-modifiable encyclopedia. I'm not very familiar with it (though of course I went and looked at the AKOTAS entry as soon as the reader emailed me about it), but I did see the recent call at Websnark for all webcomics to have Wikipedia entries, each writen by someone else than the creator (which would only be compliance with the Wikipedia terms of service anyhow).

(By the way: if you're a reader who emails me something I'm likely to crow (or cringe) about publically on the site, let me know if you wouldn't mind your name being mentioned because my policy has been not to use names without permission.)



Happy beginning of the holiday season, all.


Mmm. Bit of a cop-out here.

It's pretty well established (here and here) that contemporary Guenevere's family are naturists and don't wear clothes at home. Yet here are Guenvere and Fasha presumably at home because Guenevere's going through her old toys to get rid of them, yet clothed because I didn't trouble to work out how I could draw this panel with the props conveniently placed.

Well, let's see. It's Thanksgiving, right? Family visit. Perhaps mother's family are naturists but father's aren't. Or vice versa. Well, whichever, those are the ones who're visiting for Thanksgiving. So everyone stays dressed. Yeah, that's the ticket.


Anyone here know anything about hardware?

I'm having trouble with my laptop's power cord. The laptop's a Gateway Solo, of several years' vintage, as I suppose must be obvious since when my wife needed a new battery for it in 2003 she had to buy a new laptop instead. Lately the cord jack won't stay far enough in its port to maintain the contact unless the cord's at just the angle the jack wants - right now I have the cord wrapped around the upright monitor/cover, which significantly affects the slack between the computer and the wall. Alternatively I can press the jack in the port, which of course occupies one hand constantly and so is a mightily less-than-satisfactory solution. Since the battery can't hold a charge for long any more (hence the desire to replace it) this's resulted in the poor laptop crapping out on me once or twice in the past week before I learned to strangle the monitor with the cord. (Thankfully I know enough to save my work early and often.)

And when the contact is loose, it makes a squeaking whine like a balloon losing air. I'd been hearing that for a week or two before I realized what it was symptomatic of.

Is my power cord going bad? If they don't make Solo batteries any more, am I going to be able to find a new Solo power cord? Or do I merely need to clean the contact points? But how do I do that? Thanks.


In Le Morte d'Arthur the dream that disturbs Arthur seems to be a symbolic vision of the consequences of recent events - events that haven't yet occurred in AKOTAS because I postponed the battle of Bedegraine. So now Arthur's dream is an allusion to this cartoon and to the rest of this week which is derived from Le Morte d'Arthur.


A reader responded by email to my whining about my laptop's power cord. Thanks very much! However the email had an attachment, and as I warned readers previously I cultivate a paranoia about attachments, so I was compelled to delete the message unread - unread and without being able to identify the return @ddress. Thanks for your response, but please send it again without the attachment. Mostly, thanks for reading.


While I ought to have been writing and drawing today's cartoon I was creating a page collecting all the site's news/rants, mostly for my own convenience.


One of the people I chat with who read yesterday's AKOTAS observed to the IRC channel that Nimue does count fifty-two cards. I knew people'd count.


"This hart will I chase, said King Arthur, and so he spurred the horse, and rode after long, and so by fine force oft he was like to have smitten the hart; whereas the king had chased the hart so long, that his horse lost his breath, and fell down dead. Then a yeoman fetched the king another horse." Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur

If Arthur rode so hard after the stag that his horse (the king's horse so presumably the best of the lot) fell dead, but no one else's, mustn't that mean no one else kept up?

So where'd the yeoman come from?

I realize that one gets an imperfect understanding of the term growing up in the late twentieth century hearing "yeoman" nowhere but Star Trek, but can it really mean one of a team of servants permanently posted around the country in case the king should happen to pass by and be in need of a horse?


For those keeping score, this is my first attempt at five panels in a weekday strip.


The email Samaritan resent his message about my laptop's power cord. His wasn't the only response I got, so thanks all around. Even if the only thing I really learned is that I can't afford a new cord at the moment, you guys came through when I asked. I shall try not to abuse this power.


Again an allusion back to this cartoon, where the description of the beast is right out of Le Morte d'Arthur.

Recording the creative process vs Mothra: I put almost no prepatory thought and zero prepatory sketching into designing the Questing Beast. This right here is my first ever attempt at rendering it. Bad cartoonist.


Last week at Comixpedia Greg Dean answered readers' questions. I'd posted asking him whether disallowing MSPaint guest strips wasn't going a bit far - or whether I was taking his comment more seriously than he did. He responded, in part:

You're probably reading into it more than I intended. Obviously if a strip is well-done, it doesn't matter what it was created in, but that's generally the exception to the rule when it comes to MS Paint stuff. ...

Oh, and I may go berserk the next time someone uses Comic Sans in their comic, too.

Now he's got me wondering whether he reads me. Again.


"Therewith [Pellinore] started unto the king's horse and mounted into the saddle, and said, Gramercy, this horse is my own. Well, said the king, thou mayst take my horse by force, but an I might prove thee whether thou were better on horseback or I. -- Well, said the knight, seek me here when thou wilt, and here nigh this well thou shalt find me, and so passed on his way. Then the king sat in a study, and bade his men fetch his horse as fast as ever they might. Right so came by him Merlin like a child of fourteen year of age, and saluted the king, and asked him why he was so pensive. I may well be pensive, said the king, for I have seen the marvellest sight that ever I saw. That know I well, said Merlin, as well as thyself, and of all thy thoughts, but thou art but a fool to take thought, for it will not amend thee. Also I know what thou art, and who was thy father, and of whom thou wert begotten; King Uther Pendragon was thy father, and [post-Bedegraine spoiler]. That is false, said King Arthur, how shouldest thou know it, for thou art not so old of years to know my father? Yes, said Merlin, I know it better than ye or any man living. I will not believe thee, said Arthur, and was wroth with the child. So departed Merlin, and came again in the likeness of an old man of fourscore year of age, whereof the king was right glad, for he seemed to be right wise.

"Then said the old man, Why are ye so sad? I may well be heavy, said Arthur, for many things. Also here was a child, and told me many things that meseemeth he should not know, for he was not of age to know my father. Yes, said the old man, the child told you truth, and more would he have told you an ye would have suffered him. But [post-Bedegraine spoiler]. What are ye, said Arthur, that tell me these tidings? I am Merlin, and I was he in the child's likeness. Ah, said King Arthur, ye are a marvellous man, but I marvel much of thy words that I must die in battle. Marvel not, said Merlin, for it is." Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur


Mobile Suit Recording the creative process

There's a distinct difference between drawing fanfiction cartoons and drawing an original webcomic.

With fanfiction, you and the audience are well-versed in the characters' history (to date). Fanfiction can be, and is, set at any point in that history. A line of exposition or a wardrobe choice is sufficient for communication to the audience when the cartoon's set and the characters' present state of career development and romantic entanglement if any. You know when a Star Trek cartoon's set seeing the hero's uniform, when a M*A*S*H cartoon's set seeing the hero's roommate or boss, when a Doctor Who cartoon's set seeing the hero's face.

But in original work (at least in this day and age, at least most of the time) serial fiction is expected to advance in linear chronological order. Here's an excerpt from Eugene Vinaver's introduction to his King Arthur and His Knights (an abridgement of his The Works of Sir Thomas Malory):

"In most cases, when a 'branch' or an incident was added, the purpose of the addition was to elucidate or to anticipate stories which were already in existence. ... This 'backward' growth of the narrative implies a method still clearly distinguishable in the works of Rabelais, who began with the adventures of Pantagruel and then went on to the life story of Pantagruel's father, Gargantua; a modern novelist would probably have written his Gargantua first [emphasis mine]."

The thing is: though Arthur, King of Time and Space is by definition/technically/legally "original" work, really it's fanfiction. I know my characters' story backwards and forwards, and any given reader knows at least the outline. That's why I picked them. It's not like most webcomics where, depending on the nature of the strip, the cartoonist may have no idea what's going to be happening with the characters for the next week, or the next year, or tomorrow. I keep writing gags that I won't be able to use for years. Unless linear chronology were abandoned. As it is in my fanfiction. It's how I'm accustomed to working.

If I were offered the opportunity to go back in time and live my life over from a point in time of my choice, I wouldn't. I've earned the person I am now and I don't care to go through that again instead of going on from now. But if God or aliens came to Earth and forced the choice on me, I'd pick the latest date I could get and the only thing I'd change is I'd start Arthur, King of Time and Space earlier. And I might, perhaps even would probably, change the format: either to the sort of chronological stasis which cartoon characters usually live in or to nonlinear chronology like I use elsewhere. But, in the event, I committed to realtime last May when I started and I intend to stick with it. It's just weird.


Well, someone's gone and done it. In my internet career I've generally maintained a policy of regarding a reader comment as the tip of an iceberg, and now I've had a request for a discussion forum such as webcomics typically have. I know I can have one set up for me for free at Talk About Comics. I've refrained so far because I haven't been confident there'd be significant traffic, but I'm more confident now that someone's asked and now that I've had my monthly unique visitor count break 1000. Ideally I'd like to hear from more readers whether a discussion forum is something you'd participate in, or maybe even had been waiting for. Watch the buttons under the current cartoon.


Liz Walsh of The Tao of Geek organized a webcartoonists' Secret Santa exchange again this year. Everyone who signed up got a randomly selected fellow participant for whom we were to draw at least a guest strip or a piece of fan art. Today's installment of Arthur, King of Time and Space is my fan art to another webcomic, to John Troutman and Meaghann Quinn of Vigilante, Ho! - fan art because Vigilante, Ho! being a continuity strip isn't really subject to the phenomenon guest strip. I sent them its URL Wednesday. (Note that, since the convention in AKOTAS is that the characters are crossed over not with other webcomic characters but with other webcomic artists, to crossover with others' characters I'm obliged to employ my character's characters.)

My Secret Santa hasn't contacted me, but Wednesday was only the earliest date one might reveal oneself under the rules. Watch this space.

Merry Christmas.


I like to keep a reserve of about a week's filler gags against days when I'm too pressed to draw a new cartoon, as you know if you read this space regularly, or if you've noticed I've used them: they say "filler" at the bottom left instead of having a date there. The current crop of fillers, despite not being specifically dated, nevertheless naturally have 2004 copyright notices on them. The Arthur, King of Time and Space tradition shall be that all leftover filler gags are run the last week of the year, to keep the copyright notices - and the gags! - from getting stale, and to give me a few days' holiday (in theory, a full week, but not this year). And God help me if I have a pressing day at the beginning of a year.


I spent the last day or so of my break in a minor panic because I didn't have a joke I liked on tap for when it was over. But here we have another good ol' update-on-time-with-a-gag-I-hadn't-yet-written-when-I-woke-up gag.


Today's development was inspired by a forum post at Comixpedia wondering what appropriate response webcartoonists can offer to the disaster in southeast Asia. Sending off one's fictional character to the relief effort mayn't be much, but it's what he would do. There's more practical information here.

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