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

Rants 2007 January - June



Arthur made his promise to Ygraine here.

As noted in previous newsposts ... Are the text pieces I put in this space really "newsposts"? That's what they're ususally called on webcomic sites, that or "rants", and that's what the navigation above says. But the things I say here don't really fit the definitions of news or rantings.

Anyway, as noted in previous discussions, my source for the events of the Saxon Rock campaign isn't Malory's Morte d'Arthur which leaves them out, but the Old French Vulgate cycle of romances (as translated and abridged in The Lancelot-Grail Reader, Lacy ed.). The Morte leaves it ambiguous whether Arthur is aware of the Guenevere-Lancelot affair till the end, but in the Vulgate cycle his ignorance is definitely established when, at the end, he learns of the affair from a mural on Morgan's wall that Lancelot painted while he was being held prisoner. From that point on Arthur is a prime mover in the effort to expose the affair - quite a contrast with The Once and Future King (in which White claimed the characters to be the same as in the Morte) in which Arthur loves both Guenevere and Lancelot too much to expose them and have medieval justice served on them. Arthur's behavior in the Vulgate seems awfully hypocritical to contemporary sensibilites: persecuting and prosecuting his queen for treason on account of her affair with his most loyal and accomplished retainer, when his extramarital affair was with an enemy of the state and placed the kingdom in clear and present danger. Maybe that's why Malory left it out. Given what little we know about Malory, at least according to Robert Graves in the introduction to Baines, Malory's sympathies were most likely with the knights having the affairs, describing the adultresses involved as the truest loves there could ever be. Mark is an unremitting bounder in the Morte but, in aid of presenting Arthur to be almost as great a hero as Lancelot, Malory seems to selectively leave out all the most foolish and petty things he does in the Vulgate. Perhaps that's why he left out the origin of Lancelot's affair, tied in as it is with Arthur's affair with Camille.

AKOTAS, in its post-Malory post-White environment, is in a position to put the Battle of Saxon Rock back in, but have Arthur use it as a lesson. Even if Guenevere and Lancelot don't. Which is all the apology I have for myself and anyone else who thinks I may've glossed over the actual battle part of the battle, or over Camille herself. Though actually there's not much more in my source.


Here's the first mouse-executed line drawing AKOTAS in ages. I just didn't feel like dealing with my home scanner (which can make coloring with the fill tool laborious by picking up the lines spottily) or resorting to triangles. Longtime readers will recall I've had dreams in the past of divorcing AKOTAS from the analog world entirely; maybe I'll take another shot at it.


This would probably have worked better as a Doctor Who gag in the triangle fanfiction. But it's summer and triangles are on their annual hiatus.

The nose and chin just visible at the far right of the last panel is Arthur's. You can't see, but he's beardless (well, I guess you can see that) and wearing the single-tone midshipman's Pendragon space livery he always wears in flashbacks to when he time-traveled with Merlin before his crowning.

Many happy returns of Bill Cosby's birthday.


Scott and Merlin previously discussed Merlin's slacking here.


I know I pointed out in the commentary on this one that Merlin's encounter with Noah in the last panel was rather a flashback to when Arthur traveled with him rather than to when Morgan did. I've changed my mind. It can't really be told from what can be seen of the human face who it is; even if it's too angular to be Morgan, it might be Shem or Ham. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Yesterday at my monthly login to the control panel for AKOTAS's website to check stats, I was greeted with error messages claiming I was exceeding discspace and file number limit. Yet according to the progress bar for "disc quota" I'm only using "1% of 500 MB". I sent an inquiry expressing confusion to the hosting service tech support.

The messages said that there might be problems with the site because of these quota issues. I clicked around a bit and didn't encounter any. But if you do, be aware that, should I ever have problems like that lasting more than twenty-four hours, I'll keep current cartoons at the mirror site till the problems are resolved.

Later It's resolved. Apparently it was an error that the messages appeared.


Anyone who thinks Elaine's interest is in the bigger boobs instead of in the "nano-engines" didn't read this day's newspost.

Oh, and it feels like my slump is over. (Your mileage may vary.)


There were going to be two more figures in this, but my home scanner failed me. For the second time in forty-eight hours. AKOTAS may be going back to CGI Sundays and Mondays for the near future. (Not counting next week because I worked ahead. More on that then.)


Yesterday afternoon central USA time (just after I updated this) I left town for my in-laws' fiftieth wedding anniversary. I expect to contrive to update here normally but, whether or not that happens, AKOTAS updates for tomorrow through Tuesday will appear on the in-progress mirror site at least until Wednesday's update goes up here. As of this writing I haven't decided whether I'll leave them there, or take them down Wednesday until updating the mirror site reaches this point.

In any case, I don't mean to lose my perfect record of almost 1200 daily updates without missing any. However I don't actually know what time the auto-updating software at WebcomicsNation goes off. I imagine it's 00:01 in some USA time zone rather than the 02:00 GMT I usually hit. When I get back you can tell me.

Also, the quotation Tuesday was from Moby Dick.


This has been a storyline that originally appeared in the pencil and paper journal comics I drew before there was an internet. Then the two main players were my roommate of the time and the hardest drinker Moebius Theatre has ever known. I think that version of Saturday's gag garnered the most enthusiasm for the first installment of a storyline I ever got and may ever get. The liquor of doom is named El Toro Rojo because my former roommate is a big Peter S. Beagle fan.

Any AKOTAS readers who remember the first version well shall know today that this one ends differently. Which only makes sense since it's about different characters. Also, that one was four installments long and this one is five.


Fellow readers of Websnark will recognize today's gag as something I originally said in a comment on one of Eric's posts last week.


I've received a couple of emails this week. I always respond with at least, "Thanks for reading," but both replies were bounced back by mailer-daemons. I suspect the probem is on my end, but I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your comments, positive and negative.


The reason I decided to set the first panel when Arthur started growing his beard, instead of before he started growing his beard, is so that it couldn't be mistaken that I'd just forgotten his beard, as has happened. Once.


Three days after I'd drawn September 10's cartoon I realized I'd put Galehaut in the wrong clothes. I'd put him in his fairy tale arc clothes for a space arc cartoon. Here's the original version:
I had to go in and revise it by mouse.


For today's cartoon I went to Google Image and searched on saracen armor. I ought to have done it for yesterday. Yesterday's cartoon has been suitably revised.

Also, since I'm ranting anyway, I'll note that today's the 32nd anniversary of the first airing of Harry Morgan's first M*A*S*H episode as Sherman Potter.


Often, usually, when I do a regular AKOTAS in Shapes style, it's because I haven't got to it till late in the day, or I otherwise don't trust myself with a pencil at the moment.

But not infrequently, like today, it's just because I want to see how it comes out.


As may already be apparent, there's a greater chance nowadays that on any given day AKOTAS will be done in triangles. I changed jobs this month. At my old job I was accustomed (on days I wasn't totally stumped for a joke) to draw, scan, layout and color AKOTAS at my desk during my lunch hour. At my new job there is a single PC for everyone in the breakroom, with no scanner or internet access. This cuts down my available time on a workday to do post-production on a cartoon by approximately the amount of time it takes to produce a cartoon.

So on a worst-case scenario day, a workday when for one reason or another I can't get rushes done on breaktime and the dinnertime and evening have scheduled events, it won't be till bedtime that I can execute the next day's cartoon ... and, chances are, at that hour I will probably assume (probably correctly) that I'm in no shape to create linework. Or, if (if) the breakroom PC is available but I know I'm busy all evening, I may feel obliged to execute in triangles at lunchtime so I don't have to wait till I'm tired.

Now, I like triangles, even if most of my readers seem to prefer linework. (You can get linework anywhere, you know.) I toy all the time, particularly now, with the idea of taking AKOTAS all-triangle all the time, but I don't expect to actually do it because for three and a half years so far I've created a reasonable expectation of linework* (and because I do have another venue for triangles). But I'll continue to reserve them as a safety net, and I may be requiring that safety net more often for the indeterminate future.

On the plus side, I'll have more time for reading.

* If I woke up tomorrow and it was May 2004 again, or earlier - well, that'd be different.


Griflet and Guenevere were seen to be from the same hometown here and in the one when he seats her in an internet cafe, when we first see she thinks his name is Girflet. (A quick websearch suggests both variations on the name are equally valid.)

I can't for the life of me find the latter cartoon in the archive. I looked at a thumbnail at least of every cartoon in the archive, and looked at and wordsearched the strip descriptions in my spreadsheet for pretty much every verb and noun in the dialog, and came up dry. This is a first. If you come across it, let me know. If you think I misremember that I actually drew and updated with it, let me know (but I remember readers commenting on it).

Speaking of firsts, looking for Griflet's previous instances in the contemporary arc makes me realize that Griflet's the first character to have one arc where his wardrobe color is different. In the contemporary arc his wardrobe is in Guenevere's colors; in all other arcs his wardrobe is in Arthur's colors.

One last note of possible interest: I originally meant to run this gag last Sunday, but I spent so much time looking for the gag where Griflet works in an internet cafe that I left myself no time to produce this one.

Later (14:30 GMT) A coupla readers emailed with the cartoon I was looking for. More tomorrow.


A coupla readers emailed me about the cartoon I discussed yesterday being unable to find. It turns out I couldn't find it in my spreadsheet because there was one more panel of dialog than I remembered, and the actual punchline includes none of the keywords I searched for. Fixed now.

Embarrassingly, despite what I wrote yesterday Griflet was in Arthur's colors in the cartoon I couldn't find myself. And, arguably, he was in Guenevere's colors in the other one only because he was in the uniform of a burger joint.

I think I'll stick with putting Griflet in Guenevere's colors in the contemporary arc anyway.


This week in recording the creative process

Wednesday's cartoon came from seeing the maps of the fires on the news and just noticing, "Say, that's about where Guenevere's from."

Thursday's cartoon was originally drafted with only the first two panels. The script went very like the first two panels' dialog remains, but Lancelot's punchline was to the effect, "We seem to spend so much of our time just standing around saying funny things." After an hour or three I decided I didn't like that gag. I'd already broken the fourth wall this week on Tuesday (and, though I didn't recall right away, last Sunday), plus it was a pretty lame gag. So I rewrote the dialog and drew the third panel.

Yesterday's cartoon I almost decided to do in triangles, even though I'd already drawn the linework rushes, on several counts. First, as you know, sometimes I just like to draw in triangles. I was particularly intigued by the opportunity to draw the top of a triangle's head straight on in the second panel. Then, the first time I tried to scan the linework, my scanner failed me (I've changed jobs since I last newsposted about scanning - I no longer have an option besides the home scanner with the history of crankiness). But I remembered that the scanner will usually reset if I unplug it, when it doesn't reset from merely being powered down and up again; and, since Guenevere's parents haven't appeared as triangles before, I didn't think the last panel would be communicative that way.


I didn't start out planning to do this one in triangles. But I knew a followup on contemporary Guenevere's parents was due. And after trying to decide who would feed her the straightlines I decided on Eglante. The dilettante feminist in me was pretty proud while casting yesterday's of accomodating Bechdel's Law, until I went to draw it and I realized that any task I could draw two Chivalry Age women doing together would effectively negate any points scored under the Law. But then I realized I wanted the same cast today, for another talking heads gag. And I realized today isn't a Daily Grind day, with the rule against re-using art. And I realized it'd be a fun challenge to edit yesterday's cartoon to change the time zone. And I realized I could do that so that Guenevere and Eglante weren't doing something stereotypically female.

Every month I look at the pageview statistics for AKOTAS, including the referral pages. Someone over at TV Tropes likes me. Over many months I've noticed that there's often, among the top dozen or so referrals for the month, a page from TV Tropes linking to a pages here at AKOTAS as examples of the tv trope discussed on the page. For October there were three TV Tropes pages in the top referrals to AKOTAS: The one on energy weapons (that one I'd never seen before), the one on Cassandra prophets, and the "If You Ever Do Anything To Hurt Her" one.


Recording the creative process

I'd been trying to keep triangles in AKOTAS (except in fillers) as minimalist as Arthur's in his webcomic, until Arthur's have come to evolve to be as elaborate as mine are after almost ten years; as discussed in this space before. Friday I failed. In this week's Friday repost of the week's AKOTAS at my LiveJournal, a reader commented that he liked seeing the more elaborate triangles here. I replied that now I have to decide whether Arthur's triangles are to make the same leap now. As I was typing that reply, the script for this cartoon came to me.


Recording the creative process this week

Even before I entered into the Daily Grind contest I hadn't missed a single update here at AKOTAS since its inception. Nor for some eight months before that, at what was then my fanfiction cartoons site (but you can't know that from looking at the archive there, because in the archive the cartoons are arranged in chronological order instead of in production order). Obviously it's a high, high priority to me that I produce a cartoon every day. (The other week on PBS' American Masters, in the episode on Charles M. Schulz, the word "compelled" was used and my wife looked over at me.) But I still don't like feeling I'm putting out inferior work. While "triangle style" does not equate to "inferior work", it's inarguably easier to execute. With triangles, if it's late in the day and I haven't a gag prepared yet (as has happened several times this week), then I don't also have to worry, "Once I think of a joke, will I be too tired to pencil well? And even after that to scan and lay out and color and ...?"

So I wondered if, the next time I thought I was in a slump - or, perhaps, suddenly working 05:30-14:00 Sunday through Thursday, while still taking evening classes twice a week that last till nine or ten - I'd see whether temporarily switching over to triangles as a default didn't make things easier.

Then, as if I wasn't disoriented enough, the day of my first Sunday shift was also the day Daylight Savings Time ended. Apparently God means Ryan Smith to win the Daily Grind.

I do mean to go back to line drawing eventually, and perhaps for occasional Sundays and school vacations before that. How soon depends on how well I acclimate to this job schedule.

Meanwhile it's been suggested I have the characters namecheck each other at least in their first appearances during the triangle era. Specifically it was suggested in relation to Friday's, and in fact I had thought about it myself when I was putting it together. But this was at 00:30 Friday [Central US time], Thursday having been one of this week's can't-think-of-a-joke days. Adding Tristram's, or anyone's, name to the dialog at that point would have required reworking from scratch the dialog balloons in the first panel. Also, I reasoned, Tristram had been namechecked two or three days earlier in the cartoon that had announced the triangle era, which was also the one that brought up Brittany, so I decided I could get away with it; on, perhaps it ought to be stressed, decision processes operating at 00:30 after a long can't-think-of-a-joke day. I'll probably be better about that in the future.

For instance, today, while it isn't necessary to know that that's Uriens on the left, it is necessary to know who he is to Arthur that he falls into a category of people who are always wanting to know whether he's out of his mind, and Arthur's dialog reflects that.

Finally, on today's joke: No one but my wife gets to write my jokes for me, but I don't think she'll mind if I swipe one from Boston Legal.



Thirteen hundred and not a day missed.


Yes, the temporary triangle period is over. Today ends my semester of two evening classes. Next semester I'm registered for one class that meets one evening a week and one class that meets two afternoons a week, which is thoroughly usual. As for the new job, though I'm currently in the second wave of training I'll be on permanent schedule again weeks before new classes start. Until then at least, and presumably after, there shouldn't be any AKOTAS triangles except in Arthur's webcomic and the rare filler.

(Of course I could be wrong.)


So I made a tactical error. I decided that the gag closing the temporary triangle period would run on the day of my last final. Which means it was actually produced the day before. Which means the first regular cartoon of the return to linedrawing had to be produced on a day when I was to be nowhere near my scanner from 06:00 to 21:00. Which is why it was done with a mouse instead of with a pen.

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