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

Rants 2009 July - December


Observant readers may have noted that you can usually tell when I've reprinted an old KAITAS strip as AKOTAS-2 because KAITAS strips generally date from before I realized triangle figures look best when only about two heads tall.


There's something that perhaps ought to be addressed for former King Arthur In Time And Space readers; or even current KAITAS readers, if the links in the discussions at the beginning of the AKOTAS sabbatical intrigued any of you who hadn't read KAITAS before. I noted at the beginning of AKOTAS-2 that, while it's a product of the same exercise as KAITAS, there would be differences. One of those differences is how AKOTAS-2 treats Star Trek: Enterprise. Or will treat it, if it ever does.

When Star Trek: Enterprise debuted, then called merely Enterprise, I'd been posting fanfiction stories and cartoons globally replacing franchise proper nouns with King Arthur legend proper nouns for a year or two. I'd also plugged in Greek heroes for superheroes, Egyptian gods for rebel alliances and their imperial enemies, a martyr in for a Slayer, and Robin Hood and other British Isles legends in for 24th-century Starfleet crews. When it came to a 22nd century Starfleet crew, my first thought was to plug in the legends of Maximus/Macsen, replacing a starship captain predating Kirk with a conqueror from Welsh legend predating Arthur. But Macsen ended up instead the KAITAS analog of Dylan Hunt before his time displacement, and I did something else with Enterprise:

Having enjoyed working King Arthur into an existing, complete Star Trek series, I decided it'd be fun to give Enterprise to Arthur himself instead of someone who predates him - and work him into an ongoing series as it went on. Enterprise assisted me in this endeavor by introducing in its pilot/premiere an ongoing story arc of a "temporal cold war". This allowed Nimue, inheritor and operator of Merlin's time machine at this point of KAITAS chronology, to put forward, in-text, the KAITAS version of Enterprise as not a previous history but an alternate history to the KAITAS version of Star Trek, due to a time-travelling adversary.

(On a different, metatextual level - that is, in the KAITAS "imaginary screen canon" notes - I posited that the imaginary tv show Excalibur was a new Arthurian space opera from a new creative team and studio, not related at all to the imaginary tv show King Arthur in Time and Space. But this is one of many details that's not important right now.)

Okay, jump ahead the history of AKOTAS to when I conceived this wacky idea of a working sabbatical. Part of the attraction of reviving the KAITAS exercise for what's come to be called AKOTAS-2 was that the Star Trek revival movie would premiere before AKOTAS-2 went live. But, lo and behold, the revival movie brought into Star Trek - and my exercise - an actual, in-source alternate history due to a time-travelling adversary. Although part of the attraction of doing AKOTAS-2 is that I can reprint KAITAS cartoons with minimal editing, presenting AKOTAS's readership with exposition for two alternate versions of the same history - one of which being my own invention rather than derived from a screen work they could reasonably be assumed to be familiar with - just seemed like a Really, Really Bad Idea.

So, when I reprint an Enterprise-era KAITAS joke as AKOTAS-2, I edit the uniforms; and if I ever do an Enterprise-era joke in AKOTAS-2, Macsen will probably get to be the starship captain.


I don't usually have cause to regret that I created and maintain this website with the relatively rudimentary, merely as-of-1997-HTML webbuilding skills that I have. Today I wish I could do CSS and stuff.

Today you may notice that there's a new button at the top of the site's main page, and a new banner link below the site navigation buttons, both linking to the site of the Museum of Cartoon Art in San Francisco and advertising their Monsters of Webcomics exhibit that runs from today till December 6. Guess what: three Arthur, King of Time and Space cartoons will be included in a slideshow of webcomics in the exhibit.

The webcomic blog Fleen posted a little while ago that the museum's curator, Andrew Farago (known to readers of Narbonic and Skin Horse as "the cartoonist's husband"), has an exhibit running on several of the biggest names in webcomics, including Girl Genius and Achewood from the webcomics links at AKOTAS. Farago was also putting out a call for webcartoonists to submit three samples of their work to be featured in a slideshow within the exhibit. I contacted Farago, was sent the submission requirements, and sent him three image files, which were accepted to be included in the slideshow. I wondered whether the MSPaint-produced cartoons might not be rejected on some sort of art quality grounds; but either the jokes themselves, AKOTAS's rep (?), or the conversion of the files to JPEGs per the submission guidelines (??) were enough to overcome any inclination to shoot the messenger.

What does that have to do with my webbuilding skills? It means, of all the buttons and the banners on the AKOTAS site, only those on the index page are links to the museum's website. It would take editing more than 1900 files by hand to make every appearance of the image files on AKOTAS pages into links. Then in December I'd want them all edited back. Sorry.

It wasn't until I mentioned the slideshow to my wife that I realized that this is something I could put on a resume. The things that are the most important to me are so rarely significant to anything like a majority, or even a plurality, of the rest of the world that the thought hadn't occurred to me.

You probably want to know which cartoons were used. Well, in picking them I decided to use the first one (because it sets up all the others), the best straight joke I ever wrote (at least for AKOTAS), and (the only one that gave me trouble) a joke that highlights the love triangle as the central theme of the strip, preferably from the space arc, preferably with a time zone change. They also needed to stand alone pretty well, since I can't know what order the slides will appear, and whether mine will appear in a row together. These are the ones I sent:


Today's is an interesting study. It's a gag re-used from a KAITAS strip, but a KAITAS strip from before triangle comic strips. In order to make it over as an AKOTAS-2 strip, I cut-and-pasted the word balloons but drew the figures over from scratch. This was not as onerous as it might have been, however, since (as you'll see if you look at the original line-drawing cartoon) this gag is one of the ones I've written of before where cutting-and-pasting of the figures is done for effect.

In the first panel, actually, the word balloons from the original strip were too wide to fit in the usual AKOTAS-2 strip format. I cut-and-pasted the words only, which led to coming up with the effect where Arthur's word balloon overlays Mordred's as if he's almost interrupting him.

In order to find a reference for Mordred's costume as prince regent, I went to Google Images and entered the keywords star trek president. I wanted him in the costume of the UFP President in The Voyage Home, but I didn't find what I was looking for till I tried several other sets of searchwords, succeeding with star trek federation president. I had to refine my search because that initial selection brought up mainly pictures of Barak Obama with pointed ears.


Today, according to my spreadsheet, the centerpoint of the biggest gap in the chronology of existing AKOTAS-2 cartoons was analog to the Star Trek episode By Any Other Name, in which aliens from the Andromeda galaxy hijack the Enterprise to take it home until Captain Kirk says, "Why can't we just be friends?" Now, in AKOTAS, where the British high kingdom is an interstellar nation, an intergalactic gulf becomes analog to an ocean and the aliens are from not a galaxy called Andromeda but a galaxy called America. Anyway, that's what I decided back when I drew a KAITAS cartoon set after King Arthur had persuaded the aliens to be friends instead of hijackers. So, having a By Any Other Name gag ready to go, I forgot my stated policy for the sabbatical not to run two KAITAS reprints in a row. Oh well. It's not like I haven't run two sketches in a row already when I wasn't going to do that either. But that was done on purpose because the first one was lame (even if it did prompt a reader comment favorably comparing the simplicity of my character design with Schulz's).


Coming up with a new gag by surfing TVTropes for a convention to subvert doesn't work as well as surfing at the idioms and phrases page at The Free for something to make a pun on.

I actually edited the AKOTAS page at TVTropes myself yesterday. I corrected the spelling of my name and supplied an open-parenthesis for a close-parenthesis missing its.


When Larry Niven was invited, or invited himself, to write an episode of the early 70s Saturday morning animated edition of Star Trek, he adapted his own short story The Soft Weapon into an episode called The Slaver Weapon, writing into the Star Trek milieu for one episode his felinoid aliens the Kzinti. They, and such of the backstory for Niven's so-called Known Space series of stories and novels as was also imported, became part of the Star Trek mythos for half an hour and were never heard from there again.

One of the legends attached to Sir Kay before he became a secondary character had him defeating a giant cat, with his bare hands or whatever.


Several people have emailed to let me know that the 20th's cartoon and/or page aren't showing up. Well, I've re-uploaded the files several times. I don't know what's going on with my hosting server, but if your browser still isn't bringing it in you just need to clear out your cookies.


In 1999, while Paul McGann's eighth incarnation of the Doctor was officially the current latest incarnation, Rowan Atkinson appeared as the ninth incarnation in a comic piece for a children's charity telethon. In 2003, just as it was announced that Christopher Eccleston would be the Doctor's ninth incarnation in a revival tv show in 2005, for the program's 40th anniversary Richard E. Grant voiced "the official ninth Doctor" in an animated adventure on the BBC website. Both these varyingly official incarnations of the Doctor were incorporated into my fanfiction stories and cartoons of the time, and thence into KAITAS.

In today's sketch, in the top row, Nimue is in McGann's incarnation's costume and Merlin is in Atkinson's. In the bottom row Merlin is in Eccleston's and Nimue is in Grant's.

I've made little use of these apochryphal incarnations in cartoons since the Doctor Who revival. I don't expect to want them for AKOTAS-2, but I might.


In all the years of Arthur, King of Time and Space, the one regular complaint that I'm willing but unable myself to do anything about has been the lack of RSS feed. Now someone else has taken care of that for me. In a roundabout way.

David Morgan-Mar and the others at The Comic Irregulars have set up Archive Binge. It's a service for webcomics who have offputtingly huge archives, where readers can create their own tailored RSS feeds for having the archives delivered in daily manageable doses. The list of participating webcomics has some of the most popular titles in webcomics culture, as well as two or three I'd never heard of.

There's now a button for Archive Binge in the navigation under the cartoon on the index page, and there'll be one in the navigation for every page from now on. You do have to register for the service (but it's the same registry as the Irregular Webcomic! forums, so if you're already there you're golden). And naturally almost anyone who's reading this on the day it's posted will probably be most interested in setting up a feed for one strip daily starting with today's. Unless you'd like to review the archive, in which case knock yourself out.

Thanks to David for asking me along.


David Morgan-Mar was right when he said it's a little spooky to get into update numbers that evoke years you remember.

I'm taking an accelerated course this semester, that meets only over the first eight weeks (well, I'm taking two, but the other one meets over the second eight weeks). The AKOTAS-2 sabbatical is serving its intended purpose: It's end-of-semester crunch and, while I have a take-home final due in forty-six hours and I have extra hours at my part time job this week because the assistant manager's wrist was shattered by an exploding handtruck tire, keeping up this webcomic's daily update schedule is not being an additional source of stress as it's been the end of the last half dozen semesters. On the other hand, maybe it was the job I had then.


This is the pumpkin I carved this year.


Sometime during the production of KAITAS, I remember, I made the discovery that when stumped for a gag it helped to open the Morte at random. I'm glad I thought of that today.


Today AKOTAS has 2000 updates. They haven't always been my work (five out of two thousand have been guest art), and they haven't always had punchlines. But, since AKOTAS started two thousand days ago, there's been something new here for every day.

When David Morgan-Mar hit 2000 Irregular Webcomic strips about a year and a half ago, he compiled a possibly incomplete (and edited since) list of other webcomics with 2000 strips in their archives at that time. Gary Tyrell at the webcomics blog Fleen saw it and postulated that, even if Morgan-Mar's list missed some, there were at most about two dozen people in the world who've put up 2000 updates to their webcomic. This is probably still true, though there'll be a few more now than then, even besides me. Tyrell further noted that it's about the same number of people there are in the world who've been to the moon (orbiting counts).

Pride compels me, however, to note that I don't know of anyone else with a 2000-update webcomic archive who meets, as I do, all three of these criteria:

  • not aspiring to make their webcomic their day job
  • no auto-update software
  • never missing a daily update

I'm the only one who made it to the moon, not as part of a space program, but in a capsule I built out of a garbage can. Heh heh heh.


Today's is the gag I had just written when I complained in this space on Arthur's birthday in 2004 about obligatorily linear storytelling. This gag couldn't have been executed as a flashforward sometime before now - it could not be removed from the time for which it was written - and maintained its impact.


Readers of this space will remember that my original plan for the working sabbatical that became the run of AKOTAS-2 was to start it at update 2000 and run it for two years. Then I started it six months early at AKOTAS's fifth anniversary, because I was feeling just that burnt out.

A month ago after five months of AKOTAS-2, I realized I was feeling just that ready to go back. I'd been through an end-of-semester crunch and it hadn't felt as bad the few preceeding semesters (leading to the hypothesis that those'd felt so bad because of the job I'd had then). A reader on my LiveJournal friendslist had commented in passing in his LJ how much he prefers the real AKOTAS to the sabbatical format, which I never doubted held true for almost all or all of you. And I was beginning to miss line drawing, and being able to draw cartoons in more than one setting.

I thought, I could come off the sabbatical at update 2000. That'd be a great way to do something cool for update 2000 without producing an artificially Very Special Episode Number Two Thousand. But there was a corner I'd written myself into.

The reason the hiatus had been planned to last till autumn 2011 was because the cliffhanger on which I'd left AKOTAS was contemporary Merlin's death. Merlin couldn't be written out of the other two major arcs till Nimue turned fourteen and became of age for those milieus, because people today may find their story creepy inappropriate enough as it is. And, in the real-time paradigm that's always been one of AKOTAS's raisin deeters (pardon my French), Nimue wouldn't be fourteen till October 2011.

I thought, I could skip two years. End the hiatus with update 2000, but skip the two years between then and Nimue's scheduled fourteenth birthday. But that'd be a violation of the real time paradigm.

I thought, I could end the sabbatical at update 2000 without skipping two years. This would give me the chance to add back fairy tale Lancelot's return to Camelot after his Wild Man years, and maybe show space Gareth's virgin quest after all. On the other hand, those two things were already skipped in my mind and those of anyone who reads these newsposts; and if I really wanted to do Gareth's virgin quest in realtime then fairy tale Gareth could do it once Lancelot was back.

I thought, I could just keep on with AKOTAS-2 till October or November of 2011 as the sabbatical was originally conceived to do.

Then I asked myself, "Would the readers rather skip two years, or have two more years of AKOTAS-2?"


Today is also Sesame Street's 40th anniversary. The air is sweet.


Sometime in year two a reader observed, probably on the message board, that it was a little creepy that Merlin should be Nimue's guardian in the contemporary arc when he was going to be her lover after she grew up. My response was something to the effect of, "The fix for that is already in." What I couldn't say without spoiler was that any Merlin who was Nimue's guardian would be dead before any Merlin who was Nimue's lover became so. At least in-panel. Contemporary Merlin has been dead for two and a half years. Fairy tale Merlin admits to Arthur today that he's been seeing Nimue for "a month"; in my spreadsheet Nimue's fourteenth birthday was October 1, making her of legal age in that milieu; and exactly how far things've gone in that time is left as an exercise for the reader's comfort zone. Note that Nimue turned of age in the space arc too. Space Merlin hasn't met Nimue properly yet (though, their being time-travelers, he has occasionally bumped into her from the future.)

And it may not be apparent how great lengths I went to not to spoil Merlin's death. Arthur's foster father Ector pretty much vanishes from the legends after Arthur is crowned (at least according to wordsearches I've done on the online Le Morte d'Arthur in this site's links). In the baseline and space arcs I was able to accomodate this by merely not writing him into jokes any more. But in the contemporary arc Arthur was fifteen like in the others, while the age of majority is later; so Ector was still Arthur's legal guardian. I considered writing him out by killing him off. But I wanted the impact of Merlin's death, as the first of a major character, to be undiluted by any previous deaths of supporting characters (as opposed to such secondary or tertiary characters as Balin and Galehaut). So contemporary Ector was reactivated into the army and shipped out to Iraq, and for all we'll ever know he's still there.

'Course it's still a little tricky surprising an audience with a death that the character himself, an infallible prophet, keeps harping on. All you can do is keep him at it and hope it becomes white noise no one pays attention to any more. Contemporary Merlin's death just before the AKOTAS sabbatical, at least according to those readers who commented, did have the effect I was working for.


For a short while at the last minute, I thought of bringing in Pelleas as the new commander of the MASH. It would parallel the tv show better, a new colonel to replace the old colonel.

But then I remembered why making Lancelot the MASH commander is so neat: It makes one arc where it's Lancelot who is in charge and who has the prior claim on Guenevere.


Having gotten it right today, I will point out that originally Agravaine was wearing the wrong color in the 23rd's cartoon but it has now been fixed.

I'll also take this opportunity to note that I particularly like the 26th's gag. Not because it's especially funny (it isn't). Not because it's especially AKOTAS (it could be converted into a Doctor Who gag at The Hero of Three Faces with hardly any bother). I like it because it's particularly me.


There really is, or once was, a two-year law program in Los Angeles. The person whose birthday I gave to Lancelot took his law degree there.

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