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

Rants 2007 January - June


The legendary founder of Brittany was Conan Meriadoc.

Ordinarily I refrain in principle from explaining my jokes but sometimes it's just unavoidable.


The real reason I don't self-insert in AKOTAS - or break the fourth wall more often - is I find those gags much easier to write and so I think they're cheating.

I also hate I-can't-think-of-a-joke jokes. That's how sick and busy I've been the last few days.


Actually the reason I don't like to do self-insertion and fourth-wall breaking is I consider them amateur. Charles Schulz self-inserted only once, on the occasion of being the Grand Master of the Rose Parade. When Broom-Hilda had its tenth anniversary in the 80s sometime, there was a week or a month of the characters going on about it, and I thought it was embarrassing.

This may seem hypocritical coming from someone who does his image processing in MSPaint and ordinarily wears the badge amateur with some pride, maintaining that each day's work is always "the best I was capable of that day", even the three I-can't-think-of-a-joke-today jokes that have appeared in AKOTAS so far. Well, I am proud of being part of the electronic storytelling revolution when you don't have to have a megacorporation's resources to produce and distribute quality work. But that doesn't mean an I-can't-think-of-a-joke-today joke isn't a copout.


Recording the creative process

The first thing I did for today's cartoon was to write the dialog in the last panel. Then I drew the figures. Then my office1 scanner, or more likely its driver or something else in software like the driver driver2, crapped out on me when I was trying to scan the figures. Then I typed up this newspost as an aid to calming down (I'd already started composing it in my head, right before the scanner trouble developed). When I'd got this far I was resigned to using only my home scanner indefinitely3 - so official scheduled update time is being changed from 00:01 GMT to a window of 02:00-06:00 GMT4. Then I went on to compose the dialog in the first panel.

1 Naturally I drew today's cartoon yesterday, Friday, during the workday, so as to meet my scheduled update time of 00:01 GMT (I live in CST).
2 The error message said what had developed a problem and needed to close was the, I forget exactly, Win32 Host Serializer?
3 Though perhaps the Host Serializer will restart normally Monday morning.
4 Not that I don't often update in that window anyway.


I was informed by reader reaction to this strip that admiral derives from emir, and in Malory's time didn't necessarily denote a naval officer. So very likely Malory only meant, when he wrote "admirals", that there were Saracen lords and/or generals among Lucius' forces. I didn't know that when I drew that joke, but I would have drawn that joke anyway. Call it a redaction error in the tradition of Arthurian romance transmission through the millennium. Or call it a silly joke, I don't care.


Yesterday Home on the Strange ran a guest strip from me. This is particularly significant in that this was the first time I was solicited for a guest strip. Thanks, Ferrett.

Also, today is Hourly Comic Day. I'll link to mine from here, once it's today CST and I'm up and started. Edit It's here.


Daily Grind contest watchers note: As a consequence of a request for a ruling from the judges by another contestant, it's been established that I can run a strip from my filler reserve on a contest day without being disqualified. The purpose of the rule which I have been afraid of was merely "to prevent ppl from grabbing something they did in Grade 9 and posting it", but "any filler created since the start of the grind [is] something that you've created while still posting daily". That certainly allows my fillers, since I run out the reserve every December. Now I just need to refill my reserve.

In other notes: Today's gag is both a) one of those I especially like to do that update on time but had not yet been written when I woke up in the morning, and b) one of those I especially like to do that couldn't really be used by any other comic but AKOTAS.


Time to bring in the rest of the second tier players from Lancelot's family. Time to bend some more gender while I'm at it. You know, I don't think Bors has appeared in the space arc yet; Bors could be the first character to be male in the contemporary arc but female in the space arc. There ought to be at least one woman among the three Grail knights. At least one: come to think of it, space Percivale hasn't appeared yet either.



Xavier Xerexes, editor of the webcomics webzine Comixpedia, noted Monday that Scott Kurtz of PvP drew an update that "summarizes PvP in one strip". Then Xerexes "challenge[d] everyone to do this - and make it funny to boot."

I've been told that I did that right out of the box.



Recording the creative process

1. Ferrett Steinmetz blogs a lot about writing Home on the Strange. He's written a coupla times recently about putting an effort into making individual strips which share a plot continuity standalone in case of new reader: the mechanical things, like having to spend the first panel recapping The Story So Far, and having the characters call each other by name. The first time I saw him write about this I noticed that my characters don't call each other by name very much. (This is probably a function of my not being very good at, or anyway not being very mindful of, giving characters voices different from mine; I generally contrive not to address people by their names very much.)

I wrote about a year ago that I'd checked my most recent strips and was satisfied with their accessibility. But more recently I've been thinking that when I link to AKOTAS in casual conversation I ought to link to the first strip instead of the main page. After all, it really is a pretty wacky premise. A reader who otherwise would enjoy it but comes to the main page on a given day, and finds unnamed characters not rescuing maidens or slaying dragons but griping about sketch comedy, might be confused enough not to stick around.

I happened to think of this while I was importing today's dialog into the graphic file from the text file where it had been composed. I ended up revising every line of dialog in the first panel. I changed Guenevere's single word from, "What?" to, "Leave?!"; I added Lancelot's name to Arthur's line; and I added the word Roman to Lancelot's line.

2. Over the next few months AKOTAS will be covering events recorded in the section of the Morte which Vinaver called The Book of Sir Lancelot. I'm particularly proud of the rationale I've given Lancelot for wanting to go off and Quest at this point in his life. (The public rationale I mean, not the private one, which I cribbed from The Once and Future King. White wrote that Lancelot went off questing not to establish his honor but to preserve it, as one forum poster noted yesterday.) Because it's true: since my primary source is the Morte, which leaves out what we superhero comics fans would call Lancelot's secret origin, for a knight-errant my Lancelot has a singular lack of actual maiden-rescuing and dragon-slaying under his belt. What prowess he has demonstrated is in areas Arthur and the Round Table principles* consider secondary or to be outright avoided. I'm proud of myself for having thought of it soon enough to incorporate it into sending him off on the questing to which he's compelled by the sources (as opposed to, e.g., the way I dealt with the loss of Bedivere's hand). This is the magic of fanfiction. And I'm proud of myself because it's always good for the characters to remind us that, whatever else they are, they're heroes.

* Yes, I meant principles not principals.



In the Morte the second queen is "of the Out Isles". Mystical-WWW - The Arthurian A2Z knowledge Bank suggests that the Queen of Out Isles might be the Queen of the Orkney Isles, or Morgause. It only makes sense, since Morgause is one of Morgan's sisters, that she'd be one of the enchantresses hanging out with Morgan when the group of them chance on Lancelot sleeping under a tree. But I don't know whether the connection was first supposed by whoever wrote this encyclopedia entry or by some other source.* I decided to use it because it meant I didn't have to invent a face.

I also didn't have to invent a face for the Queen of Northgalis, who I contend is the third Cornwall sister, Elaine. That, though, is reverse-engineering on my part. The three queens in the barge which takes Arthur to Avalon after the Battle of Salisbury are Morgan, Nimue and the Queen of the Wastelands. Morgause is dead by then, but I think it'd be keen if the barge queens were all Arthur's spiritual or blood sisters, so I've decided the Queen of the Wastelands in the barge is Elaine of Cornwall. The Queen of the Wastelands figures earlier in the Morte during the Grailquest, when she represents herself to Sir Percival de Galis as his aunt, which presents a connection between the Queen of the Wasteland and Galis (Wales)**. Percival's grandfather is the Fisher King, King Pellem, whose land becomes the Wasteland when Pellem is wounded by Balin's delivery of the Dolorous Stroke - another connection between Galis and the Wasteland. Meanwhile, the King of Northgalis is throughout the Morte Arthur's friendly rival in almost all the Round Table tournaments. Elaine's husband Nentres of Garlot was one of Arthur's enemies in the succession wars who was perfectly friendly with Arthur ever afterwards. Garlot is a derivation of Caer-Lot meaning Nentres was Lot's vassal instead of a king in his own right. But, surely while High King Uther's honor might be satisfied having a stepdaughter married to not-a-king, High King Arthur's honor couldn't be satisfied till his (half-)sister's husband was a king of somewhere. And (and this is the part that's my own extrapolation), since Pellinore de Galis** spends all his time chasing the Questing Beast certainly he could spare a part, say the north part, of his kingdom. Which means Elaine of Cornwall Garlot Northgalis is Percival's aunt-in-law by succession. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The Queen of Eastland looks like the Mona Lisa (or anyhow is meant to) because, when I websearched queen eastland at Google Images, most of the hits were from some sort of art museum site.

* Pellinore's kingdom is identified in some sources as the Isles, or Isles of some sort, which ties in nicely with that Pellinore is supposed to have married a sister of Arthur; but, though there are storytellers who have married Pellinore to Morgause after Pellinore killed Lot in battle, I'm not one of them.
** Percival is Pellinore's son, and all of Pellinore's other sons are de Galis, so by extension Pellinore may be de Galis too.


"Everybody knows" as of then.


The speaker on the right immediately above, for those of you who neither read the message board nor have recognized her yourselves from her cameo parts to date, is Elaine of Carbonek, future mother of Sir Galahad.

I ought to have mentioned under Monday's cartoon that I'm pleased with the way that a straight retelling of an event from the Morte supports AKOTAS's interpretation of Lancelot as a reflexive (though reluctant) homophobe.


Lancelot speaks here of the fairy tale/baseline arc only. In the space arc, you'll recall of course, Tristram was responsible when Lancelot realized how he feels.


Gawaine joked with Priamus here here.

In the Morte, Mordred is one of the knights on the Northgalis side of the tournament. Sometimes in this space I wonder aloud whether I oughn't've been happier setting this webcomic in the same sort of chronological stasis Charlie Brown and Superman live in, with the characters suspended midlife for eternity in the situations of which we know them best. I always conclude with words to the effect of, "Oh well, we'll get to that point soon enough, and once we're there it'll last for years." Malory got there faster than I have.

Originally I was going to set this in the baseline arc, where Mordred turns one this month. At least ten-going-on-eleven knows which end of a sword to hold.


The bit about Lancelot's seat is a swipe from T.H. White, who discusses individuality in horsemanship in the context of jousting and tournament melees. White says when Lancelot was in a joust in disguise he'd purposely ride poorly, showing sun at his seat, until just before impact when he'd bear down properly; and the audience - and, most likely, the unfortunate opponent - would go, "Ah, Lancelot!" at the last moment. One of my earliest memories is of my father or someone from his family saying of Jack Benny's violin playing, "You have to be good to be that bad."

Speaking of White, I don't think I'm running through Malory's adventures for Lancelot quickly enough to get through them all in the time I've alotted. I may be obliged to confine myself to only the highlights White used. Well, those are the ones I know best anyway, but that's not what I meant to do. Still it's also true that the Lionel-Morgan-Bagdemagus-Turquine sequence is the most convoluted of the lot; the rest may go quicker.



For some weeks now Howard Tayler has had a squad of his characters, in what remains a family webcomic (if such a thing be), running around stark naked for having been captured and stripped by their enemies and then having escaped without getting their stuff back. Yesterday's AKOTAS was me trying to decide whether to give him a run for his money. After all, I have been bad lately about depicting contemporary Guenevere's previously established home lifestyle.

However, though I composed the above paragraph for yesterday's newspost, I obviously didn't feel it needed saying badly enough to remember to post it. Today, however, I have ego-boost to talk about.

In Ferrett Steinmetz's weekly webcomic review yesterday in his LiveJournal, he mentioned in passing Mr. Myth's webcomic commentary blog. I was pretty sure I've seen this fellow's [pen]name in comments on other webcomic webfora so I followed the link to check the blog out. And, lo and behold, what do I discover but the first webcomics blog I've seen to have a permanent link to AKOTAS in its sidebar. Naturally the first thing I did after that was find the sitesearch field and type in "arthur". I found four entries discussing AKOTAS since May 2006, with interesting and complimentary things to say. (His most negative observation is that the art is merely "functional" and "good enough", which truthfully are descriptive of the level I aspire to most days.) I'll have to check him out and see what else he likes. But that sidebar bit is the sort of thing that makes for a web entertainer's red-letter day.

Also, does anyone know of another webcartoonist who updates daily, who doesn't - and doesn't aspire to - make his living off his webcomic and/or related industry, and who's never missed an update during a multiple-year run? I think I'm the only one. Though, if I want to retain that distinction, I really ought to be writing a gag for the cartoon above instead of this.


Last week I asked whether any of my readers know of another webcomic updated daily, by someone to whom it also doesn't represent job or career or even possible career, who also never misses an update. You guys directed me to two: 1/0 ran exactly a thousand days. Funny Farm is from a fellow Daily Grinder who'd escaped my notice in this regard, and who, I'm told, did once take 184-day hiatus for the purpose of finishing med school.

I closed that paragraph a week ago noting that if I wanted to retain that distinction myself I needed to stop writing that paragraph and write a gag for that day. Then I updated with a filler. To add self-insult to self-injury, it was a filler I'd just drawn right then instead of one I'd pulled from my filler reserve, which is empty. You know how whenever I discuss my previous dailies' occasional burnout periods, I always conclude with "but so far the evil days come not"? The evil days come. The reason I drew Wednesday's cartoon in Shapes style is not because it was a crowd scene, which it wasn't, nor because I think the gag played especially better that way, which I certainly don't, but because by the time I'd written the gag it was eight or nine p.m.* and I felt too tired to draw. This may be symptomatic of stress at school, and of stress in the bank balance; and of having, Friday, for the first time in a long time, drunk most of two liters of Coke by myself in one evening, and being short on sleep ever since.

The other interesting thing about Wednesday's cartoon is that I almost did it over in triangles when Shapes wasn't doing it justice. I decided not to because AKOTAS regularly hares off in enough different directions at once as it is, but since then I've been debating with myself whether to work in triangles instead of Shapes for regular but non-pencil AKOTAS in the future. Discussion?

Of course, the punchline is, here I am writing newspost instead of gag again.

* That is, eight or nine p.m. CDT, which is about when, according to the update schedule I adopted in January, the four-hour update window opens.


No one responded to my request in this space for discussion of the notion of using my triangle style instead of Arthur's shapes style when I don't draw AKOTAS with a pencil. Meanwhile the thought occurred to me, "The reason I'm reluctant to introduce triangles as a recurring thing (outside of fillers) instead of shapes is because I don't want to bring in yet another style in addition to my pencil linework, Arthur's shapes, and Merlin's shading. But I always intended for Arthur's style to evolve as he went along [see newspost here] - why can't it evolve into my triangles?" So that's what happens today. Well, not all at once - my triangles have been evolving for years and Arthur's are just starting.

To review: My triangle caricatures are used in my fanfiction cartoons and have previously appeared in AKOTAS in fillers, here, here and here.


A reader has written to say that yesterday's gag was inappropriate in the context of the top news story of the week. Certainly it's possible that running that gag was the result of bad judgment. I went all day Wednesday without coming up with a gag, and finally about 20:00 CDT (an hour before update window opens at 02:00 GMT) I went looking for a gag from my old fanfiction website I could redraw for Thursday. When I redraw here a gag that's in the archive there I remove it from the site's archive index links, which I prefer not to do, so first I look through gags once posted there not currently archived. But no joy. Then a neighbor stopped by, and it was 22:00 or almost before I started looking through the gags archived there for one to redraw here. The gag I ended up choosing was the first one in the archive that I thought could be transferred and that I thought I could draw at all well at ten at night. So I drew it, and removed it from the other site's archive index (it's still there but, as described above, no longer linked). I recall feeling that the vague topicality was an added bonus. But that was the end of the day and I was tired and I might have been insensitive. I'm sorry if I offended anyone; I'm here to entertain. (But I don't believe in "depublishing" and I'm not going to remove the cartoon.)

The subject being brought up, however, I'm compelled to propagate what I believe are the two most important ideas in discussion of the event.

  • The actions of the shooter were planned with deliberation. If guns had not been available he'd've found another way. The gun control issue is irrelevant to the discussion of this event because greater gun control could not have prevented what happened.
  • What could have prevented it was the psychological and psychiatric programs to which the shooter was subjected. Obviously they didn't, but you and I haven't any way of knowing how many people there are who, subjected to the same programs, have come away helped and functional. No system is perfect and every system has its unpredictable misses alongside its hits, and by their very nature there's nothing we can do about them except keep a level head when they happen.


For anachronism scorers: I don't know whether there were collies in the fifth century but, even if there were, the dog in this tale was a brachet - a hunting dog - whereas collies are herding dogs.

Meanwhile, since this is the space arc, you get to decide whether Lancelot understands Gilbert's dog because it genuinely has some sort of intelligence augmentation, or not. If enough of you email me votes or comment at the message board I'll announce the winner.


Obviously I meant to run this gag two days ago, it having been Will's birthday then. Despite (as I recently newsposted) currently going through a period when gags seem thin on the ground, I managed to forget I had a gag ready for that day. That is, I forgot till I had come up with another had swiped one from the fanfiction site, had drawn it, and had only just updated with it. Then I decided to hold this gag till next April 23 ... but, currently going through a period when gags seem thin on the ground, I can't really afford to.

I wouldn't have said anything about it, not being partial to bringing your attention to my currently going through a period when gags seem thin on the ground, except I wanted to forestall your wasting bandwidth on emails and message board posts telling me I missed his birthday by two days when I already know that (you know who you are).


My version of Lancelot's first visit to Carbonek is based largely on T.H. White's in The Once and Future King. I don't have a copy handy, though, and haven't reviewed my other sources in depth. When I wrote Morgan's visit a few weeks ago I didn't consult the Morte first, and remembered only that Elaine was in the pot because Morgan put her there; and not that the Queen of Northgalis was also complicit, or that their motivation was the classic evil witches' jealousy of the fairest in the land, or that it happened five years before Lancelot came along. I encountered that last factoid soon enough to think of putting that week's cartoons on blue, flashback pages; but procrastinated on the decision till I'd already updated the first one on green. The rest of what I invented to fill the holes in what I remembered, I like better because it suits my Morgan better.

In the sources it's Pelles' butler rather than Pelles who gets Lancelot drunk, which I did remember, and decided to change. For reasons that may be clearer when you've read next Monday's newspost, or not, I thought it would be more effective character writing if Pelles did it himself. Or maybe I just didn't want to have to invent a new face. That'd be like me.

This gag is five panels, though I don't ordinarily do that on a weekday, because it was originally scripted to come right before next Monday's, which has to come May 7, for reasons that will be clear once you've seen it and if you remember or review this newspost. Actually, when today's was planned for Sunday, it was six panels, allowing Pelles to interject as so:

LANCELOT: 'At's as may be, but I aspire to perform a mircale once before I die.
[begin script cut]
[panel break]
PELLES: Birth is a miracle
[end script cut]
LANCELOT: I mean, I mean, brin'ing someone to life. ...

But then I realized I'd committed to sending Arthur and Guenevere to Derby weekend, which is the first weekend in May, so I had to bump what've become this week's cartoons backwards three days, and what had been scripted with a Sunday's panel count became a Thursday cartoon.

Oh, and yes, I've just told you that I'm suspending this storyline for three days to run another before you find out what happens in the last segment of this one.


Webcomic writer fired from day job, and visited by police, for talking about guns and then writing about it in his webcomic.

Happy Online Comics Day!


Remember in 2005 when I said I can't do crossovers, but if I could I'd just figured out who?

My impression of Elaine of Carbonek and Astolat is derived from T.H. White and Tennyson. She seems to me to have nothing, and/or to believe she has nothing, of any substance in her life but her infatuation with Lancelot.

Now's the time to note that not all authors conflate Elaine of Carbonek the mother of Galahad with Elaine of Astolat the lily maid who pines away for love. T.H. White does; John Ervine quite pointedly does not. As of this writing, I'm doubtful AKOTAS shall.

Among the evolutionary steps in my casting King Arthur into saleable space opera was the first draft or two of a novel. More than one of its readers found Elaine in that (a conflated Elaine) to be little enough developed relative to the other characters to comment on. Well, that's because (like T.H. White) I'm trying to propagate characters I know and love rather than invent new ones: if Elaine's less developed than the others then, most likely, it's because that's how I found her to be (like in T.H. White). But I wasn't sure that's good storytelling, or fair to the character.

Then, one day shortly after I'd made the self-referencing amendment at the end of the essay linked above, I was thinking.

Suppose I stand by my position that AKOTAS can't do crossovers, or I propose a Narbonic crossover to Shaenon Garrity and she turns me down, or I propose one to Shaenon and we try to put one together but it can't be made to work. I could still put characters into AKOTAS who were parodies of tributes to Helen, Dave and Mell.

I've already decided that, crossover or tribute, I can't have anything like a mad scientist in the contemporary arc, because the lack of fantastic elements is what distinguishes that arc from the others. But that's all right because the Victorian interplanetary war thread at Narbonic already shows that Helen and her company are shot through time just as Arthur and his company are. It's already obvious that, crossover or tribute, any Helen Narbon in AKOTAS would be a mad sorceress in the fairy tale arc.

I've already decided that her name has to be Elaine. The reason there are so many Elaines in the Matter of Britain - Arthur's half sister, Lancelot's mother, Lancelot's lover(s) - is because Elaine's a French form of Helen and these characters were named after Helen of Troy during the Arthurian legends' centuries of primary residence across the Channel. But what about the Narbonic part? Narbon's a place name innit? Is there any Arthurian placename that sounds like Narbon? Narbon Narbon bo-Barbon... Carbon. Narbonic. Carbonic. Carbonek.

Helen of Narbonic. Elaine of Carbonek.

No. No. NO.

But if I were to do it ...

If I were to do it, what's the medieval equivalent of the name Dave, Helen Narbon's henchman, romantic foil and experimental subject? No no, no new character - obviously Lancelot would be analog to Dave. Elaine sleeps with Lancelot because she's as loopy as her father (Helen is as loopy as her mother). Elaine, not Pelles (as in White [and Malory]) or with Pelles, is the one after melding her line with Lancelot's. She's not a mad scientist, she's not a mad sorceress - she's a mad theologian.

No. Still mustn't do it.

Of course if I were to do it, there'd have to be a Mell analog too. Elaine'd have to have a weapons-happy servitor with cheerful destructive and homicidal tendencies. At least in the fairy tale arc such a person'd have to be male, and a knight.

But what'd be his name? Are there knights in the sources with the syllable mel in their names? Conversely, what characters already exist who are associated with Elaine of Carbonek? Say, what again is the name of Elaine's retainer who's sweet on her in Le Morte d'Arthur? Brommel, that's right.


Okay, now I gotta do it.

And it's not like Elaine'll be the only AKOTAS character whose look and manner are swiped from another comics character [that is, even aside from select time-travel pals of Space Merlin]. In fact, the other's her son.

...Say, I wonder if any of this is what Shaenon was thinking?

Aside from her formal debut as an AKOTAS character last month when Morgan visited Carbonek, Elaine appeared uncredited in the western arc since here (or, arguably, here); in the Serenity parody; and in the arc space flashforward here.


Earlier cartoons dealing with AKOTAS's mishandling of Sir Marhaus' story are here and here.


Because every webcomic features Cthulu eventually.


A little over a year ago, I stopped feeling obliged to switch between time zones/story arcs less often than three to seven days. About the same time I built a set of formulas in the AKOTAS gags spreadsheet which tracks how many gags have been set in each story arc. The three major arcs all had totals of about 185 plus-or-minus 35. I noted in a newspost once before that I find it easier to write contemporary arc gags than space arc, but I was still disappointed to discover that the biggest gap between the major three arcs was that the contemporary arc was about eighty strips ahead of the fairy tale arc - which is to say the baseline arc, the one that's meant to provide you the readership with the baseline to know which bits in the other arcs I'm inventing, and the contemporary arc (of the other two major arcs, anyway) has the most of those bits. The space arc, the other of the three major arcs (and the one, being the most similar to my previous Arthurian project on the fanfiction site, which I'd've expected to be the frontrunner), was ahead of the fairy tale arc but not by nearly as much.

So I resolved to work on bringing the totals closer. Around last November the difference was down to less than twenty and, while I wasn't watching, the fairy tale arc had pulled ahead of the space arc. Running the Roman campaign was a great help to pulling the fairy tale arc ahead. But then last December there was the long-awaited week-plus-long plotline when contemporary Arthur came into his inheritance, and the gap went back up to the high twenties. Shortly after that Lancelot went questing in the fairy tale and space arcs, which was a boon to those arcs, but sidelined development in the contemporary arc of the characters' new physical proximity and a few other innovations.

As of today's, according to the spreadsheet, all three major arcs have equal counts for the run of the comic to date, at 345, which the baseline arc actually reached first. This won't last, obviously (unless every gag from now on were to zap between all three); and there'll be plotlines that skew it temporarily like the inheritance did. But the difference shall never be eighty again.

Meanwhile, of the minor arcs (none of which has been getting decent play lately), the big winners are the western arc and the MASH arc with counts in the mid thirties. The big losers are the caveman arc with only one showing besides the debut strip (but a good, clean, classical gag), and the mystery arc with only one showing at all.


Due to logistical difficulties, until further notice Arthur, King of Time and Space will be updating Monday through Friday only, at either about 22:00 GMT the previous day or about 14:00 GMT the same day, depending on how quickly it's done. Cartoons will still be drawn for Saturday and Sunday. You'll just get them Monday instead of Saturday and Sunday. Probably. Usually. We'll see.


Forget what I said yesterday. I'll contrive to update daily somehow.


Three years, no missed updates.

You may have noticed there's a new navigation button above, labeled "Mirror site (in progress)". This is something I decided to do at the beginning of 2007 when I decided to start a website on a free webcomics hosting service, Webcomics Nation, for my new fanfiction cartoons; since the fanfiction cartoons to date had about filled the serverspace quota where they'd been being posted for ten years. Note that the "Fanfiction" navigation button above, which used to link to the old site (and still does on pages older than the first of this year), now links to my WCN Free fanfiction site. But I balked at putting up the WCN Free AKOTAS mirror site once I realized that the WCN software had no capability to upload multiple cartoons to multiple pages at once, not really having been designed to serve people's mirror sites.

(I should note again that the reason I decided to go with WCN Free for the new fanfiction cartoons' hosting is that I felt I owed Joey Manley a bit. WCN Free is one of a family of Manley-run webcomic service sites, among them Talk About Comics which is where the AKOTAS message board is hosted. It may seem poor thanks for use of the man's free bandwidth to use up more of his free bandwidth, but I do hold intent to upgrade to WCN Premiere one day.)

At the time there were just under 1000 AKOTASes and I didn't feel like uploading each one manually. On the WCN Free message board I asked about multi-update capability and Joey said he's working on it but it's not a priority. I figured I'd wait.

Earlier this month, however, I realized that if I'd uploaded five AKOTASes a day starting in January I'd be almost done now, and if I started now I ought to be done by around the end of the year. And I realized that announcing there's a mirror site in progress would be an appropriate anniversary salute. So I've already started. Except I don't always remember to upload five every day. I may still be at it when multiple update capability goes live.


Lancelot rescued Gaheris and Agravaine (and Lionel) here.

Lancelot rescued Kay here.

Lancelot knocked down Gawaine, Ivaine, Ector de Maris and Sagramore offstage in AKOTAS, but you can find it in the Morte.

Lancelot was on the mission for Meliot here.

Lancelot fought in the tournament between King Bagdemagus and the King of Northgalis here.


Today's cartoon was a technical experiment. See, I noticed that when you specify the dimensions of an image file in your HTML code for a page, but the image file's dimensions are actually larger than that, the code contrains the image to the dimensions you specified. Now, in art school I was told that all art looks tighter when it's reduced. So I thought I'd see if it's true.

Since this was the first time I tried it, there was a lot of trial and error in the execution, and I won't know unless I try it at least once more whether it's significantly more time consuming to work in twice presentation size. But that's only my end of it.

The cartoon above is a file 1830 pixels by 656 pixels constrained by code to 915 by 328. Below, the same cartoon file reduced and saved as 915 by 328. I want to know from you, the readers, which of them looks better on your browser if either, and whether that one looks better than they usually do; and why. Thanks.

(Oh, and I'm back to normal update schedule.)


Thanks to everyone who responded to my request for feedback on yesterday's reduced art.

Consensus seems to be, between those who emailed and those who posted at the message board, that the file reduced in MSPaint makes a better showing than the file constrained by code, except for the word balloon text. One poster suggested that I work at twice presentation size, reduce in MSPaint, and then add text; I had already decided by the time I read that suggestion to try that on my next attempt. Many voters said my normal 1-to-1 production is best and the lack of anti-aliasing is even part of the charm.

At some future date I may try this at least once more, if only because I'm still curious whether it's prohibitively more time consuming than the procedure I use now. Right now I doubt I'll make any permanent change.


Footnotes in The Lancelot-Grail Reader point up the fact that in the paragraph when Camille first appears in the narrative, it states that she's in love with Arthur and he knows nothing of it, but actual subsequent events narrated portray quite the opposite state of, as it were, affairs.


The Lancelot-Grail Reader leaves out any bits about where the Lady of Malehaut comes from and what she's doing at Guenevere's side by the time of the Battle of Saxon Rock. I had to websearch even to find out her name. She's also the mother of the Round Table knight Sir Dodinel, who was a fantastic hunter, mostly because he refused to come home from the forest to eat and sleep and stuff.

You will have noticed that I've taken advantage of Galehaut's heritage to not have to invent a face for him. I thought of making Eglante a dwarf to the same end, but not for long. It wasn't that I was afraid to leave another character's face to the audience's imagination. It was the logistics of their becoming lovers later that I didn't want distracting the audience. Plus I have half-formed plans of keeping Eglante around as Guenevere's sidekick even after the end of Galehaut's story (Guenevere made the complaint of which Merlin speaks here), as today's cartoon goes a ways to set up. Un-gender-bent female Arthurian characters who aren't evil or mere extensions of their mens' stories are rare enough without being saddled with invented one-note sight gags, which both can get old quickly and can become obstacles to using the character.


Submitted without comment.


While I was trying to brainstorm designs for Galehaut's and the lady of Malehaut's space arc costume designs, The Empire Strikes Back came on.


Merlin's thing about boundaries is from The Once and Future King. Well, it's from the musical Camelot, which is based on The Once and Future King. I think I remember which passage from White it was that Hart developed into the whole hawk thing, but I'm not sure.

Wait a minute.

T.H. White. Moss Hart.

White. Hart. White hart.

These guys were fated to have an Arthurian connection between them.


I think this is the first time we've seen that the Excalibur bridge has a big main screen at front, just like a Starfleet vessel. But I'm sure you all knew that in your hearts already.


I don't know how it might be a sin to hold captive a landless nobleman, or a landless madman, or a mad landless nobleman; but that's Camille's reasoning for freeing Lancelot in the source so here we are.


One day several years ago I thought up a great story for the beginning of the Guenevere-Lancelot affair here in the western arc. Dialog and everything. I liked it because it contrasted with the major arcs' versions. It helped show that Guenevere's love for Lancelot is independent of her love for Arthur, that while they might play off each other it wasn't just that Guenevere took Lancelot to bed because Arthur was off sleeping with another sorceress. Or something like that. I think. Maybe.

See, I didn't write it down before I forgot it.

Always write it down, kids. Always write it down.

Arthur, King of Time and Space

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