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

Rants 2005 July - December



Thanks to Ryan North for permission. Normally permission isn't asked of the subject of parody, but in this case parody entailed the use of the subject's own art as used in the subject's webcomic over and over again every single day (Monday through Friday). I've sent him a copy and told him he's welcome to place it on his fan art page but I don't know whether he plans to.



I couldn't decide whether Arthur ought to be amused or morning-grouchy till I'd drawn both to see what they looked like. Here's the other one:


Recording the creative process vs. Jason

The more I think about it, the more I believe my premise can't encompass that beloved convention of such webcomics as last more'n a year or two: the Crossover With Another Webcomic.

Now, I love crossovers. My fanfiction site is full of them, and that material there was the parent of other material there that was the parent of AKOTAS here. Hell, since King Arthur's, Merlin's and Tristram's were originally all seperate story cycles, AKOTAS is a crossover. When all of us are in our own minds the heroes (or, depending on our self-esteem, the anti-heroes) of our own life stories, a crossover between fictional heroes is symbolic of the perceptive crossovers that are all human interactions. You can see I've put some thought into this. I just don't think a crossover between AKOTAS and, say, PvP would work for dramatic reasons, which are all my own doing.

For one thing, it's been well-established over the past year that my characters don't hang out with other people's characters, they hang out with those people. Like this weekend: Merlin and Arthur aren't sharing Cole and Brent's booth at San Diego, they're sharing Scott's. But that's a side effect of the real reason crossovers won't work.

The real reason is that it's built in to AKOTAS at the fundamental level that my characters don't hang out with other people's characters, they become other people's characters. It's the schtick that's the raisin d'eeter (pardon my French) for the whole work. How can Arthur meet Piro or Torg when he's already been Piro and Torg? How could Merlin and Arthur share a booth with Cole and Brent when, the next time I pull from the filler reserve (which, despite the apparent trend over the last two weekends, won't be tomorrow), Arthur and Lancelot will be Cole and Brent?

So, yeah, I've pretty much concluded that AKOTAS can't stand up to crossing over with another webcomic.

Unless, of course, it were an irresistable story. When I first drafted this essay it ended with the previous sentence but, since then, I've read the archive of Shaenon Garrity's Narbonic. Lord, the woman tempts me.


As my boss likes to say, why reinvent the wheel?

The fairie court are all characters from The War of Whant - see the discussion of the origin of Aihok and Effex.

Morgan has a mark on her foreheard because that's where the mark of death appears, although only when no other humans are around, in Gossamer Commons. But in AKOTAS the mark is a blue half-moon because that's the mark of an Avalonian priestess, such as Morgan (Morgaine) is, in The Mists of Avalon.

I don't know whether the last panel is present-time or flashback.


Gossamer Commons ran a guest strip from me yesterday. Of several I've submitted, the one to Gossamer Commons is as far as I know the first ever to run. Thanks, Eric and Greg. Glad you liked it.


Today and for much of this week I'll away from home with my wife at the site of her bar exam. I have no idea what facilities there will be in the hotel and environs to accomodate my updating, but I'm confident with my flashdisk and laptop I'll manage. If I'm wrong - well, I'll be out of the Daily Grind contest, but I ought still be drawing so all the missed updates will go up at once when I get home (early Friday GMT). Even if I'm right there's no telling how prompt the updates will be so nobody panic if one's late. See you tomorrow, hopefully.

7/24/05 20:30 CDT (7/25/05 01:30 GMT)


We're in a college town that was once the state capitol. Actually the motel where we're staying is in the town next door. I've discovered there's a cafe with wifi down the road. I've also discovered their phone number in the yellow pages isn't any good. I've decided not to sweat updating till midmorning tomorrow CDT, which means in excess of twelve hours later than schedule. It may be like this till I get home. (But it won't mean forfeiting the Daily Grind contest. I'll still be updating each day well ahead of the 23:59 PDT deadline.)

But the battery in Junior, my laptop, can't hold a charge for spit (which is why Junior's my laptop and the newer, more robust laptop belongs to the law student lawyer in the household). Taking Junior to a wifi place is second best, unless I can plug him in. I think that's a possibility - at least, I think I recall that the newly remodeled McDonald's at home has wifi and a table of seating with outlets, and if it does that may mean other places have had the same thought. If not though, when I get there, I'll be constrained to update AKOTAS first, do what I can next, and forego such of my usual daily nettage as I can't get to before Junior conks out, which I suspect'd be most of it. I hope if anyone misses me they'll think to check here because I don't know how much else I'll get done with the rest of the paltry time I'll have.

But I'd prefer a place that'll rent me computer time at an hourly rate, on a Windows PC where I can connect to the 'net and plug in my USB flash drive. My attempts to find such a place have yet only turned up the wifi cafe. Even looking in the phone directory for Kinko's (or under Fedex-Kinko's) has brought no joy. But perhaps, if there are 'net stations available to the public at the university library, I can do my FTPing at the wifi cafe and the rest of my 'netting at the library. Stay tuned.


I'm putting Wednesday's and Thursday's up at once so that Thursday's will have fair exposure time, despite this week's delayed schedule, before Friday's goes up on time or almost.

7/28/05 13:15 PDT


Per request of a reader on dialup, I've done something I actually was thinking of already: I've broken the 2005 rant/news page into January through June and July to present.


There's a review "book report" of Arthur, King of Time and Space on the website of a fellow Daily Grinder, Michael Payne. I think that's a first. Aside from being a Grinder, Michael also has irons in the Web Cartoonist Choice Awards and the SFWA Circulating Book Plan. That latter thing, as he notes, put me on the wrong foot with him from the start through no fault of mine; there's an awful lot of Arthuriana on the sf shelves these days, and it doesn't appeal to him, and consequently he's tired of it. But in the end he concludes that my story just doesn't move quickly enough for him, which on the one hand suggests despite his prejudices he judged my story on its own merits; but on the other hand strongly suggests that he missed all the spots on the site that state - and that he failed to infer - that I'm telling the story in realtime over twenty-five years. Have no fear that at the slightest opportunity I shall ask him whether that's the case and suggest that he look again in ten years. On the plus side, he compared my art to Jules Feiffer's.


I should follow up on the the note about the review "book report". Mike saw what I wrote here and emailed to agree that he'd not realized this is a twenty-five year project. He also thanked me for - like other Daily Grinders who've responded to his reviews "book reports" [he very carefully does not call them reviews because he doesn't believe his tastes accurately reflect anyone else's] - being a gentleman about an unfavorable review. I in turned thanked him that my first unfavorable review came from a gentleman, rather than from the sort of writer who's all over the web who merely dismisses what s/he doesn't like as summarily and wordily as possible.

I should also note that today's cartoon is an unabashed swipe of homage to this Striptease cartoon.


In Le Morte d'Arthur Cador of Cornwall is named Arthur's heir at the beginning of his reign. No mention is made of any relation between Cador of Cornwall, Gorlois of Cornwall Uther's nemesis, or Mark of Cornwall Tristram's nemesis*. No mention is made of any relation of Cador to Arthur for that matter, but there is his mother's connection to Cornwall. Now, Gorlois and Mark are both rulers of Cornwall, and in that order. If Mark is Gorlois' heir, and therefore is Arthur's eldest male relative through Ygraine's marriage to Gorlois, why does Arthur name Cador his heir - or if Cador is older why isn't he made duke of Cornwall? Well, partly, I'm sure, because Arthur's and Tristram's were seperate story cycles until the fourteenth century or so; but mostly because Mark's a bounder. (Also, at least in AKOTAS, Merlin's already established that Mark's too old to legally be made a king.) Cador must be younger than Mark (but older than Gawaine, Arthur's eldest legitimate nephew), yet still as closely (or nearly as closely) related to Arthur as Mark, so Occam suggests he's Mark's younger brother.

Cador never comes into the story again, not even when Camelot falls. After Arthur and Mordred are both dead, Cador's son Constantine** ascends to the High Kingship. During the span of Arthur's reign Cador has either got too old or died.

* Of course there's also an Idres of Cornwall whom Le Morte d'Arthur lists as one of Lot's allies, who seems to come between Gorlois and Mark at the time of Lot's wars, but whom Le Morte d'Arthur never mentions before or again so as I recall now. In AKOTAS when the late Lot's allies finally swore fealty to Arthur, and in the text underneath, I presumed "Idres" was really Mark, since in AKOTAS Tristram's story is so in medias res, making Mark the current ruler of Cornwall. But even if Idres were a seperate person from Mark, having been one of Lot's allies he's about as likely as Mark to be named Arthur's heir. Same with Gawaine and Tristram, for political reasons even though Arthur likes and trusts them.

** Constantine is also the name of Uther's father in some sources. Cf. the thread titled Constans (spoiler) on the forum.


It's nice to get back to the space arc after a month. You recall how I've said once or twice I sometimes wish I'd created Arthur, King of Time and Space differently: in the sort of suspended chronology most comics characters live in, the height of King Arthur's reign, all character relationships in a fully established equilibrium; maybe even only the baseline or only the space arc, at least initially. I'll not switch to equilibrium format now, and in any case after a few years and a few more landmark events even this biography format will arrive at the equilibrium point and maintain it almost until the end. But till then the space arc, the only one of the three major arcs with the legend's four main characters grouped in the same place, is the closest to equilibrium format there is. That makes it good to get back to.

The other side of it is, getting back to the space arc means going back to having to write a new stand-alone gag day after day. Life is a series of trade-offs.


Today's hot topic in the webcomics world is this New York Times article on webcomics. The majority reaction is a concensus that if it were a research paper for school she'd fail on grounds of poor research. But a vocal minority point out that it's filed under Critic's Corner, not as news; her complaints are the complaints of anyone coming to read webcomics for the first time rather than having years' familiarity with the medium; that mainstream press coverage of fringe art phenomena is always felt to be unfairly superficial by the subject; and any publicity is good publicity.


Arthur is referrring to when he and Lancelot first met. Yes, first, of any arc.


There's a discussion thread over at Comixpedia about seeing to the disposition of your webcomic in the case of your death. I sent an email to my wife and kids telling them where to find relevant files for uploading, including one with directions for the others, should the need arise.

But since I last brought the subject up I've been feeling better about it. Were I to die leaving an Arthurian opus unfinished ... well, there are worse lists to end up on than one with Chretien de Troyes and John Steinbeck on it.


Here are some others I thought of making the straight man in this:
I finally picked OEdipus because I wanted another legendary, rather than historical, figure, and because I think the joke works better if the straight man's someone who can't have heard of King Arthur. Plus, OEdipus too has that whole loses-the-kingdom, relations-with-relations vibe going on.


Hopefully this gag is clearer than the gag eight days ago trying to get across the same idea.


I was writing somewhere else recently and one of my stock criticisms came out: "I like it when my heroes don't win all the time." And this time it set me to thinking.

Second only to Winnie-the-Pooh as the earliest hero I remember having is Charlie Brown (as perhaps you can tell just looking at my cartoons).

The Star Trek episode I remembered best having previously seen after actually getting hooked was City on the Edge of Forever, when Captain Kirk must let the woman he loves die.

Star Trek was replaced as my favorite story by M*A*S*H. The first episode I recorded on my little cassette recorder (this was when M*A*S*H was on prime time, not on DVDs) was Radar's Report, when Trapper John's patient dies and Hawkeye's girl won't marry him.

M*A*S*H was replaced as my favorite story nearly a decade later by Doctor Who, of which the first installment I ever saw was the last half of Genesis of the Daleks, when the Doctor fails to remove his deadliest enemies from history.

And The Once and Future King predates all of these but Peanuts (at least it does if you count the soundtrack album of Camelot which was based on The Once and Future King), and that's about a simple, happy fellow who changes things for the better for everyone and then sees it all fall apart, because once when he was a kid he slept with the wrong woman.

"Don't win all the time"? I like it when my heroes are losers from the moment I meet them.


It's all over the news that you can websurf with your PSP handheld gaming device thing. I see that lots of webcomic sites are producing specially formatted versions of their work to be compatible with the PSP screen. However I'm told by my stepson that, here at Arthur, King of Time and Space, the low-res MSPaint graphics show on the PSP screen just fine the way they are.



For awhile before I drew this, I wondered whether I was jumping the gun a little. Is now too early to bring Lancelot's feelings for Guenevere into things? In the other two major arcs they've barely met. Then I thought: Yeah, but in this arc they've dealt with each other on a daily basis for a year and a quarter. Not too early.


Dialog in the third panel is swiped from actual M*A*S*H dialog. I tried to come up with something new, but sometimes you just can't beat the classics.


Brad Guigar of the webcomic Greystone Inn has announced in several places that he's organizing a "webcomic telethon" for disaster relief. He's done this sort of thing before, so if you draw check it out.


When I discovered, in implementing Thursday's update, that I'd never uploaded the files for Wednesday's update, I put both cartoons on the index page for the day - adding a complaint that no one had complained. One reader responded to my petulance by pointing out that I am late sometimes (in fact, this one's going up about two hours late because I have class Thursday evenings this semester). Another pointed out that you readers had no way of knowing whether I live in a hurricane-affected area, and it'd've been a bit small of people to complain about webcomic updating when the possibility existed that my home or body was under fifteen feet of water. That's a good point, though in fact I live just outside the area on the maps I've been seeing on the news. To the degree that my whining was out of line, I apologize to all flood victims.

(As I stated in the temporary note yesterday, my slip-up will not cost me the Daily Grind Challenge. Since my scheduled update time 00:01 GMT is more'n a day in advance of the Grind's daily deadline of 23:59 PDT, I was still good for Wednesday at my normal Thursday update time.)

As you can see today, I don't intend to portray the full participation of my characters in the hurricane relief efforts (except maybe a little for the telethon), for the same reason Merlin's trip to Asia last January occurred mostly offstage: I'm not going myself and so I don't feel adequate to an accurate portrayal. But it's what they would do. I like to think I would, too, if I had Merlin's resources. What resources, you ask? Hey, look behind you!

As you can also see today, after doing several jokes pointing up Lancelot's place in the MASH arc as the straightlaced, unsympathetic executive officer, I felt it necessary to reinforce the fact that Lancelot is always the best at whatever he does wherever and whenever he does it. I did that in Wednesday's too but I'm not certain how clear it was then.


The Webcomic Telethon for hurricane relief won't start till September 12 but its site is up and ready for anticipatory bookmarking. Again, if you draw, participate. It's a way to contribute in spirit if you can't contribute materially.


Thursday night my wife goes to print off the photos my stepson emailed of her new first grandchild, and our three-year-old printer/copier/scanner won't power up. Looks like Sundays' and Mondays' AKOTAS will be mousedrawn till further notice.


The Webcomic Telethon starts today tomorrow. I have one cartoon in it. When it's gone up and I've spotted it I'll link to it from today's text section and tomorrow's tomorrow's and Wednesday's. But there'll be a lot of great cartoons, and for all I know the advertisers (the revenues from which all go to hurricane relief) are paying by the pageview, so check often whether you're looking specifically for mine or not.

There really are webcomic readers who react this poorly when updates aren't forthcoming as expected. That is, I hear there are from reliable sources. I haven't run into any yet, not even the day I forgot to update.


Don't forget the Webcomic Telethon starts today. Update: my contribution is here. I'm third in the running order - they must be going up in order received.

The local "modern hits" station here has taken to playing Natalie Imbruglio's Torn often enough that I heard it twice in a week when I only listen to that station about twice in a week. That's from ten years ago, about or almost, which was when the kid who's just become a father and his sister were adolescents and still living with me and my wife. That time had some rough patches for the family, both internally and externally generated; but it was a good time, and I know that because I miss it.


Don't forget the Webcomic Telethon continues today. According to a banner I saw on the site, the response was so overwhelming that it'll last three days instead of two. My contribution is here. I'm third in the running order - cartoons must be going up in order received. The first four, including the organizer's, are Daily Grinders', and several other Grinders are represented already too.

They're also putting a book together. Print requires higher resolution image files than I know how, or am equipped, to turn out; fortunately, I have an awesome mom. But it's still a space-available sort of deal. When I know whether I'm in I'll mention it here, and one way or the other I'll talk up the book when it's available.


Don't forget the last day of the Webcomic Telethon.


My first unsolicited fan art, inspired by the the Webcomic Telethon. Thanks to Paul Shryer. Later: Whoops, screwed up. See tomorrow's newspost.

Now that the telethon is over, my contribution is on the extras page here.


Whoops, I goofed up. I replaced yesterday's cartoon with the fan art cartoon locally on my hard disk, and thought I'd done it on the webserver but I hadn't. Now it'll have to wait till next weekend, because I can't run it on a weekday or I forfeit the Daily Grind. Sorry, Paul.


There's an alternate version of today's cartoon on the extras page.


A reader recently showed me a quote from the news - I forget which magazine or who'd said it, but it went to the effect of, "There are two kinds of cartoonists today: Those who were influenced by Bill Watterson, and those who don't want to admit they were influenced by Bill Watterson."

Watterson did great work, true. But the only influence on Arthur, King of Time and Space that can be traced to Calvin and Hobbes, with the obvious exception, is the conscious philosophy to attempt to make the most of Sundays as can be (at times when I have a functional scanner at home). As for un- or sub- conscious influence, Calvin and Hobbes came along when I was too old. It was too late for Watterson to get under my skin as Schulz and Hart and Foglio and Trudeau did.

Anyone disagree?


Updating may be sporadically prompt for a few days while I'm on an out-of-town trip.

There are a lot of crowd scenes in this story. I hate crowd scenes. Remember my new year's resolution was to remember to have fun drawing my cartoons because they're better then? Cramming lots of people into a panel is rarely fun.


You may recognize the server as the logo of a national chain of family restaurants. If I recall correctly, the first time I drew this gag it was set in another restaurant, where I ate this weekend for the first time in about fifteen years. I had a design-your-own-burger with American, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. We're visiting my stepchildren this weekend and I'm doing a lot of flashbacking to when I was their age, particularly since they both live now in the city where I lived then.


The hurricane relief Webcomic Telethon book is now available. All proceeds got to the Red Cross.

It's from other extant sources than those I know best, but it is in the legends that Bran's head was buried at London to magically protect Britain, and that Arthur dug it up because he didn't want Britain to rely on magical protection. This is the development I was working for when first discussing the abrasion between Merlin and Tristram: the conflict in Arthur's mind between magical and practical defenses. (I'm not aware if it was ever said of Bran that he'd return in Britain's hour of greatest need, but for the space arc I needed a different prophecy and this one, oh I dunno, came to mind.)

Now I know what you're thinking. You're all wondering whether, in fifteen years, the space arc'll send up The Wrath of Khan.

Stay tuned.


Oh, by the way, my telethon cartoon is in the hurricane relief Webcomic Telethon book. (I'd've mentioned that in yesterday's newspost but I'd overlooked the page listing participants.) Remember, all proceeds go to the Red Cross.


I'm putting all AKOTAS "rushes" to date up for auction. All pieces are original pen or pencil work on 8 1/2" x 11" typing/computer paper. Minimum bid is ten dollars US. Shipping will be in a flat envelope by USPS first class at seller cost. Here's a sample: this page contains the rushes for the final frame from the telethon cartoon plus the final frame of the 9/1/05 cartoon. Note that rushes are dated with the date drawn rather than with the run date.

If there's a cartoon whose rushes you'd like to bid on, or 'd like to see a scan of with a mind to bidding, email me at with the cartoon's date as the subject line. I'll consider commissions too, same @ddress.


Those of you paying attention to such things may have deduced that yesterday's cartoon being hand-drawn instead of mouse-drawn, like every Sunday and Monday cartoon for the previous month, means my home scanner is working again. That'd be a no. I knew yesterday was an occasion so I wrote and drew yesterday's ahead of time, during the week, while I could scan it at work.

Today's cartoon being hand-drawn means my home scanner is working again. Saturday I noticed it had come on again, with as little fanfare and explanation as with which it had stopped coming on. Today's cartoon was scanned on it. Having no idea what the problem was, I have no idea whether it shall recur. But till further notice we ought to be back to fancy Sundays again. ...Except next weekend, when the fancy will be saved up for Monday instead.


I've been thinking about quantity versus quality this week, sort of. Drawing one of these things every day, I notice that the quality of the art and the quality of the writing can be erratic. This one's art was held up as shoddy by one critic - and failed to get the point across to at least one reader; hence this one, to get the same point across. The sleeper ship story was too abridged of plot elements to be clear to readers who didn't know, or who didn't know the story was a parody of, the Star Trek episode Space Seed; if I ever do another parody (in other than the parody arc) I must be more careful of that.

Yet, when I wonder what can be done I don't ask myself, "Should I go to a less than daily schedule?", but, "How can the daily updates be improved?" To me the whole point of the project is the daily exposure of these characters (Okay, just this once I'll admit it: to my interpretation of these characters).

In a recent interview Randy Milholland of Something Positive observed that the best thing about drawing a webcomic is having no editor, and the worst thing is having no editor. He's not the first and he won't be the last. I've said that about webfanfiction. But that's the natural state of the medium.* I knew that going in. Very few of you won't already have known it when you came to this cartoon, and if it bugs you enough you'll stop coming, and I knew that too. As a rule, though, my daily unique visitor counts go up rather than down. And then, the other side of it is that there are some experiments that seem to have worked, too.

So I guess my conclusion is, doing this daily is working more often than it's not working, and when I've identified the bits that don't work they'll improve.


I started a poll on the forum to see how familiar my readers are with the King Arthur stories and the relation between that and AKOTAS. Unfortunately you must be a registered forum user to respond.
* Hell, it's not particularly unnatural to be unclear when you have an editor. It came out in a recent Websnark discussion of a For Better or for Worse cartoon that the final panel was unclear to more than one commenter participating.


The new genre arc seems to be a hit. One reader's even built Kingman in City of Heroes, the superhero online multi-player role-playing game, and posted details on the forum. From Meagen:
They don't have longswords or rapiers or anything like that in CoH, just the broadsword and the katana. I figure of the two, the broadsword is closer to Excalibur.

Oh, and Kingman has been created on the Freedom server.

Proper credit has been given.

Hear his mighty battle cry!

I'm not a CoH player myself (subject to future persuasion), but with a character on the Freedom server you can team up with Kingman - or, once City of Villains comes online, pick a fight with him.


Adrian Ramos' Count Your Sheep is a great little webcomic. It's funny, it's whimsical, it's touching. It's a favorite among the webcomic community and wins peer awards. It was favorably mentioned in that New York Times op-ed piece on webcomics the other month that didn't like them much.

For about two weeks 'round the beginning of this month Ramos did some filling out of his characters' backstory on a theme of Beatles song titles. Then in Wednesday's newspost he asked his fans, "Now that we know a little more about the backstory of our characters, what about expanding the Wikipedia entry on CYS?"

Earlier that day I'd looked in on the Arthur, King of Time and Space Wikipedia entry. It was up to date through the new arc that debuted this week, even unto that day's punchline.

Thanks for reading.


Uh, perhaps I ought to mention that, now that the half-sister thing has got out, I'm not treating anything from the legends as a spoiler. In fact I responded once to an email that The Once and Future King is pretty much one huge spoiler for my fairy tale arc.

Anyway. On the secret origin of Sir Lancelot du Lac.

Le Morte d'Arthur doesn't describe Lancelot's arrival at Camelot; suddenly when the war with Rome comes up he's just there. In the Old French Vulgate cycle (one of Malory's sources) Lancelot's birth and youth are described after Arthur and Guenevere are married and Nimue has learned all Merlin's magic and trapped him in the cave. (Which suggests that Lancelot is considerably younger than Arthur and Guenevere. In The Once and Future King Arthur is about eight years older than Guenevere and Lancelot, which "at the age of twenty two [when Guenevere and Lancelot meet] ... seems the verge of senility". Here in AKOTAS they're all three within less than a year of each other.)

In the Vulgate after his parents die and his father's lands are invaded Lancelot is fostered by the Lady of the Lake (I'm unclear whether this is Nimue or a different Lady), who then brings him to Camelot and is one of two major ennablers in his relationship with the Queen (if she's Nimue, that'll be because she now has Merlin's gift of prophecy). In Le Morte d'Arthur and The Once and Future King, Lancelot's father King Ban is still alive after Lancelot comes to Camelot: sometime after the Roman war Ban calls on Arthur to war on Ban's enemies as Ban did for Arthur at Bedegraine. In The Mists of Avalon the Lady of the Lake - not Nimue, the one who is killed by Balin - is Lancelot's mother, conceiving him during an Old Religion king-marries-the-land ritual. In none of these does Lancelot ever ascend to his father's throne.


You can believe it or not, but I'd already planned and written this gag before Ryan North called for remembrances of the fiftieth anniversary of the conception of the flux capacitor. Actually I'd originally planned for Nimue to show up from the future with not her husband Pelleas but another character from late in the legends, who would then hang around for about a week, but I couldn't think of a week's gags to write for the visit so I dropped the idea. But such a visit by that character was already part of the long-range plans and should happen eventually.

There's an interesting discussion on the message board about the nature of Lancelot's inability to lose.

This evening my high school is putting on The Music Man and this afternoon there's a picnic for those of us who did it in 1976. Tomorrow's AKOTAS will be a filler, and late.


Okay, I've copped out and this time I'll won't weasel out of it: I've drawn Guenevere and Fasha at home and clothed even though their family is naturalist, again, for no other reason than to maintain AKOTAS's family friendliness. I toyed with the idea of positioning the girls creatively (as I usually do with Guenevere at her PC); or perhaps drawing them at an angle from behind the couch, either close enough so in the first panel Fasha's back was shot only from the waist up, or with Fasha in another position entirely. But I gave up. You can invent your own excuse for their being clothed, if you like. Or you can just imagine they're not. As, I suspect, many webcomic readers already do anyway.


I got an A on this.
Paul Gadzikowski
English 120 - Whitney
October 7, 2005

                     Cultural Activity #1: Eliduc and Lancelot
                                By Paul Gadzikowski

     The things that struck me on reading Marie de France's lais Eliduc were

the similarities and contrasts between this story and the classic love

triangle stories of Camelot. Marie de France was a contemporary of Chretien

de Troyes, author of the oldest work known containing the character Lancelot.

Lancelot, like Eliduc, is a knight of wide renown for his prowess and honor

and, like Eliduc, has his life torn apart by a passion outside the bounds of

the laws of man. But everything works out for Eliduc and his new girl, while

Lancelot ends up blamed for the fall of a great kingdom.

     Another difference between them is the amount of subsequent treatment

since the twelfth century. Eliduc seems to owe his place in literature solely

to Marie de France but Lancelot's love for Queen Guenevere has been reworked

more and more often as time goes by. In the so-called Old French Vulgate

cycle of Arthurian epic, c. 1250, Lancelot's sin is blamed for his failure to

achieve the Holy Grail quest and for the fall of the kingdom, when Arthur -

portrayed in those times as not a little foggy-minded and foolish - discovers

the affair. In Le Morte d'Arthur, c. 1470, Lancelot and Guenevere are

portrayed more sympathetically, often called "true" (actually "trew" I think)

lovers despite the technicality of extramarital adultery; and Arthur, while

not explicitly complicit, acknowledges the affair only when the story's

villains make it legally impossible for him to ignore it.

     In The Once and Future King, c. 1940, and the movie Camelot based on it,

1967, Lancelot and Guenevere love Arthur almost as much as each other, and he

them, willingly turning a blind eye to the affair. Surely not until modern

times could a character in such a personally painful position maintain so

compassionate, open-hearted, progressive an attitude to those who betray him,

even those he loves best himself.

     Yet, in Eliduc, the betrayed wife responds to the situation with the

merest token regret for her own loss, and from then on acts with efficiency

and inspiration to get her husband and his mistress to set up housekeeping

and to put herself into orders out of the way, motivated by the love she

still holds for her husband. Through their subsequent lives they remain on

such good terms with each other and God that when Eliduc dies the second wife

joins the first wife in the nunnery and the approval of God for the entire

business is evoked. All this, in a work contemporary to the very creation of

the Lancelot character.



Cut-and-paste special today, because tomorrow's is a great big bear. A friendly, happy, funny great big bear, but still a big bear and I want a head start.

(I did script today's before I decided to cut-and-paste it. And they've all got new facial expressions. Well, mouthal.

(Plus Guenevere and Lancelot came from narrower panels so their chairs and PCs had to have outer portions recreated. Puts me in mind of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Remember Me. "Computer, define the universe." "The universe is an area three hundred pixels, by two hundred and twenty five pixels expanding, on a green background.")


Five hours late. It would only have been one hour late except we had a dinner engagement. (Yes, webcartoonists have lives. Or our updates would never be late.) Except it probably wouldn't even have been an hour late if - well, let's just say I'll be doing no more fourteen-panel cartoons before the laptop has a mouse again instead of only a touchpad.


Since more than one reader has asked, I ought to explain that a brachet is a hunting hound. Tor was sent after the dog that bit a chunk out of the hart.

For those who don't read newsposts, this'll be explained in the story once Tor returns.


Okay, I give up. It took me three or four hours to do yesterday's five panels when the lettering, layout and coloring must needs were done on a laptop with only a touchpad. It's time for me to admit that doing this work without a mouse is almost as crippling as doing it without a scanner, and to again go back to computer-generated Sundays and Mondays till this hardware issue is resolved, as I did a few months ago when my scanner was misbehaving.


A reader emails:
>Dumb question: why can't you hook up a mouse to the
Because I no longer have a functional mouse. I had one, and was using it, but it went bad. It was a gift so I can't complain. But it went bad in a real weird way; for months before it actually stopped working, any time it and my flash drive were both in the laptop's two USB ports, after awhile the system would report that both the devices were malfunctioning. I thought it was the ports, I thought it was another consequence of having knocked the poor computer to the floor once or twice, like the power cord troubles I had months ago. But now that the mouse is dead and the only USB device I use is the flash drive, that doesn't happen any more; it was something loopy about the mouse (but not the flash drive) all along.

But thanks for your concern.


Last year at about this time I announced that every year I'd run out my filler reserve Christmas week in order to give myself a break and to keep the gags from getting stale. Since then though I've got involved in the Daily Grind Iron Man challenge from which I'll forfeit if I run one of these fillers on a weekday. (At least, according to the interpretation of the rules by the contest judge who responded to my discussion on the Grind message board.) So, Decembers until I win or lose the challenge, I only get weekends off. This year there were only three fillers left in the buffer anyway.


A reader noted on the message board that in Thursday's gag Morgan wasn't wearing gloves but Friday's she was. Another reader noted that in Wednesday's gag she was, and in Thursday's her dialog does include the phrase, "The gloves are off." The lack of gloves Thursday was, of course, a coloring error; but now I think I'll leave it.


Ryan Estrada's curmudgeonly webcomic critic Welton Colbert is having a guest strip week at Comixpedia this month, and one of the guest strips is from me. Ryan's brief in his requests for guest strips specified that respondents show Welton reviewing their own work. The first panel of my guest strip is swiped from Welton's commentary on the Daily Grind, in which Ryan drew each panel in the style of a different Grinder, including me. The other panels of mine are my rendering of his rendering of Welton in my style, an exercise he was flatteringly enthusiastic to see I'd attempted. Thanks, Ryan.


Hercules appeared previously in the space arc here and here, and in the contemporary arc here and here.


The character in the fourth panel of this reprint hasn't appeared in AKOTAS yet. This cartoon was set much later in that version of these characters' history than AKOTAS history has yet reached; you can tell because Arthur's bearded, Guenever's a little lined, Lancelot's gray at the temples, and Nimue, uh, has matured.


Actually the reason last week's The Land of Whant was in outlines rather than shading was because that was a better emulation of the style of the webcartoonist being lampooned. However, for those who're now wondering, it's true that I've suffered periods of time over the last twenty-nine and two thirds years when I burned out on writing a gag every day, and it's not unlikely that there may be such periods over the next twenty-three and a half years. Just not yet.

Arthur, King of Time and Space

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