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

Rants 2010 January - June


I'm kinda proud of today's gag. I'd prepared for today's AKOTAS another non-gag advertising today's Hero of Three Faces (spoilers for last weekend's Doctor Who!), like the non-gag I did the other day, telling myself that I'd still try to come up with a real gag for today anyway. Then I did! And drew it! Even after having already prepared myself an out. Take that, entropy.


I ought've mentioned under yesterday's cartoon that the thing about writing poetry while tired comes from my new creative writing professor.

There's a new button in the site navigation, for my Twitter page. I've actually been at Twitter since October. My Twitter name is "akotas" but my twits aren't usually AKOTAS-centric: I signed up at Twitter and set my twits to be mirrored at LiveJournal so that I'd be posting to LiveJournal more often.

Speaking of yesterday's cartoon, have you noticed that, since the sabbatical, I've been doing mouse line drawing instead of triangles when I don't do pencil line drawing? I have. I think it's better, but I'd rather that I was never too tired or occupied for pencil drawing.


This was originally written as a Hero of Three Faces gag, about of course the Doctor instead of Merlin, a week ago. But I never found the time during the first week of the new semester to draw it, and today I needed an AKOTAS gag.

It was also scripted as four panels instead of one. But yesterday was the Friday of the first week of the new semester.


Recording the creative process

A variant on dialogue from the second episode of Demons.


If you were looking for yesterday's cartoon right when I updated it, or if you follow AKOTAS through Archive Binge RSS (maybe, or maybe not; I don't know how RSS works [though I don't know whether an RSS user would be reading this]), you may have noticed some troubles. That's because when updating yesterday, I encountered the same troubles as I described here. The hosting service's server kept refusing to display the PNG image file, saying the file "contains errors". As described to have worked in the earlier incident, I attempted to clear up the problem by switching MSPaint versions; when that didn't work, I created a GIF version, changed the page HTML to imbed that, and went to sleep grumpy.

In the morning before I could attempt anything else to address the issue (all that was left on my list was "email tech support"), I checked again, and the server was serving up the PNG file just fine. I've come to the conclusion that there are just rare days when the server doesn't like new PNG files, and I'll have to live with it. But I'd still like to know what's going on.


If you'd like the macro in an image file by itself, here it is:


I once drew a cartoon about Bill Watterson that he doesn't seem to think good role models can be funny. I think I was reacting to an actual quote, which however I'm unable to turn up now. In any case:

Take that, Watterson.


Dammit. When I was drawing Sunday's, I forgot that I'd decided Trillian ought to be not Isolde but Morgan, considering the surprise teenage offspring in Mostly Harmless. Well, I'll probably not go back and change it now, since today's is the last scripted gag for this parody. But then, Sunday, that gag was the last scripted gag for this parody, and look how that turned out.


Wired Magazine's Top Ten Tragic Love Stories in Geek Fiction.

Thanks to LiveJournal user calliopes_pen for the link.


For yesterday's cartoon I sat down to scan the rushes at a friend's house and couldn't get her scanner to work for me. I ended up redrawing the same gag with MSPaint in order to update on time, but I preferred the pencil art I'd been unable to scan then; so after I updated I scanned the original pencil art and replaced the MSPaint version at the time of today's update. Here, for scholarly interest if any, is the original version of yesterday's.


In February's top ten referrals I find that I've been linked to from Thanks for the traffic, evil.


According to The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, Lacy et al., Sagramore's role in the legends varies from source to source: "[In Tennyson he] stumbles into a maiden's bedroom in Arthur's castle and falls asleep ... Finally, the Vulgate says that Sagremor is the nephew of the Emperor of Constantinople and that he has an illness that attacks him without warning [causing Kay to nickname him] 'le morte jeune' ('the young corpse')." Sounds like narcolepsy to me, and from more than one source (though Tennyson was likely informed by the Vulgate). Also, who better to be the Table's chief intel officer than an expatriate member of the imperial family?


If you follow my Twitter (linked above), you may know that my first attempt at drawing this gag got accidentally overwritten, and I took it as a sign that God wanted it drawn in pencil instead of by mouse. Well, though, part of the reason I started doing it was that it's easier to compose for the space on the computer than with pencil-to-be-scanned, and with a panel this crowded this matters. Dunno if God was right.

Let me just reiterate: I hate crowd scenes. Usually I can find a way to fudge them, as I have perhaps ranted before, but in this one the crowd's the gag.

Yes, when I read Monday's Girl Genius my reaction was, "I don't remember who all these people are. There are too many characters." Then, of course, I thought, "Yeah right, who am I to talk?"


It doesn't come from my sources that the King of North Galis who's always opposing the Table in tournaments is really Nentres of Garlot. It's an innovation of my own.

According to the sources, the three queens in Arthur's last boat to Avalon are Nimue, Morgan and the queen of North Galis. The queen of North Galis is also one of the four queens who kidnap Lancelot and give him their ultimatum. And she figures in Percivale's portion of the Grail quest, when she tells him she's his aunt. In none of my sources have I encountered a proper name for the queen of North Galis, or the king either.

I just thought it would be aesthetically tidy if both the two queens at Avalon besides Nimue were Arthur's surviving sisters (omg I just spoiled that Morgause dies before Arthur oops). And since one of Morgan's four cronies for the Lancelot thing, the queen of Orkney, is known to be one of her sisters even if she's not named in that passage of the Morte, it only makes sense that another of them was the other (though if the fourth queen, of Eastland, comes into the stories anywhere else I don't know of it). But that meant contriving a relationship between Elaine of Cornwall/Garlot and Percivale that nothing in the sources hint at.

So given that Nentres and Elaine are of North Galis, and Percivale and his brothers are de Galis (though I don't remember ever seeing any association of Pellinore with Galis [or with Wales which is what Galis means], just as Lancelot hasn't in today's dialogue), which of Nentres or Elaine had the blood connection with the Pellinore boys? I had dialogued two and a half of the panels above before I ever stopped to ask myself that.

It couldn't be Nentres, I reasoned once I'd asked myself; because, from Pellinore's generation up, all the known males in that family have names starting with the syllable pell: Pellinore, his brother Pelles, their father Pellem. So I asked myself, what about the females? And there is actually only one female descended from Pellem whose name appears in the Morte ...

(We already knew that Elaine's father Gorlois, the first husband of Arthur's mother Ygraine, had another wife before Ygraine because it came up when we learned about Ygraine's stepson Cador, who was made Arthur's heir till he gets one of his own blood. That is another innovation of mine, that Gorlois had a first wife whose sons were Mark and Cador. Though, if Gorlois was significantly older than Ygraine as he's usually portrayed, it only stands to reason that she's not his first wife.)


When composing the essay under yesterday's cartoon, I completely forgot that there was already an essay on the same subject underneath the cartoon linked from the four queens' storyline. Furthermore, yesterday, I misremembered some important details that are correct in the previous essay. It still amounts to Elaine of Cornwall gets to be in the boat, but go read the previous essay if you didn't yesterday, please.


Occasionally in this space I've bemoaned that I might've preferred that I'd done AKOTAS not in realtime but in the sort of suspended chronology Charlie Brown and Superman live in. I suppose I thought this because that's how I viewed the work I'd done before in home journal comics and in home and internet fanfiction comics (and still do in internet fanfiction).

During the AKOTAS-2 hiatus, a regular reader posted to his LJ (but didn't tag it so I can find it and link) observing - complaining, really - that that's preceisely what AKOTAS-2 was. He missed the sense of progress in the characters' lives that real AKOTAS has. That, of course, had been one of the draws to me for using that format during the hiatus.

As soon as the hiatus was over - with the very first update out of it - that reader was again compelled to blog about it, to the effect that the sense of progress he missed so much had returned with the strip's real format, from the word go. Perhaps this comment was the reason that I didn't run with the years-prepared text post I had planned to run when space Merlin departed Excalibur with Nimue observing that I had finally reached the point in the characters' lives which I would have chosen if I had gone with a suspended chronology, the point when the characters' lives don't really change much again for years until the beginning of the end.

And perhaps that's because that was when I began realizing that I lose interest in AKOTAS when there's no sense of progress. Pretty much ever since the culmination of the Roman war, and definitely since the return from the hiatus with Lancelot's wild man stint concluded, the three leading characters have been left with little to do in a realtime retelling of Malory unless they figure in an episode of the tales of Tristram as they have this week. I plan to bring in some episodes from the Old French Vulgate which Malory left out, but on the whole nothing really happens to Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot until after the Grailquest. In T.H. White this period of time is dealt with by starting the chapter after Lancelot's departure from Carbonek, after his madnesss, with a sentence something like, "Fifteen years later Camelot was still where he was."

I'm thinking that another six-month hiatus that skips years of the characters' lives shall be in order at AKOTAS' ten year mark like it was at year five... (Though I don't think I'll do AKOTAS-2 again.)

After all, when my dailies were pencil journal comics I was chronicling a story in a way, even if it was a real life story and I was writing only the gags to spice it up. Even the fanfiction cartoons are about characters who have longterm stories going in one way or another. So I'm thinking that maybe, despite all the disclaimers that've appeared in this space since 2004, I was more interested in the storytelling than the gagwriting all along.


As you may have noticed, I have happened on a theme for the week.

These are acually harder to write than you might think.


You may have noticed that yesterday's AKOTAS was updated about 14:00 GMT while normal update window is 00:00 - 06:00. This was not an April Fools Day joke. I don't do April Fools and I have more imagination than that. It was a temporary issue with my home internet.

My real reason for mentioning it now is to point out that I announced the trouble about 05:30 at my Twitter page, linked above. When I'm offline at home I can still twit with my phone, and the previous day's twits appear at my LiveJournal, also linked above, at about 08:00. I try to keep my readers in the loop when such things happen, having stated more'n once that I'll never miss an update unless I'm in mourning, hospitalized or dead myself. But you need to know where to look.


This gag is unapologetically based on a sequence from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere that I'm in the middle of reading.

Next: our heroes look at Rorshach inkblots.


For awhile just after I composed this dialog I was thinking, "I should use this gag at Hero of Three Faces instead, with Star Trek characters in it. AKOTAS's readers may not remember that Lancelot is the science officer and Gawaine is the chief engineer."

Then I thought, "Hell, considering the intricacies of the AKOTAS premise itself, that may be the least bit of mental gymnastics I ever ask."

(When it was Spock's dialog instead of Lancelot's, his time's two examples of future-current computer language were C:) and HAXXOR.)


Some days I just don't feel like dealing with the scanner.


A reader sent me a donation this week. You guys have been supportive in the past when I've made a special request, but if this wasn't my first unsolicited donation I don't recall any previous. Thanks, donor.


I confess I sometimes wonder whether I ought've taken that two-year break after all.


Lately as my source for things Malory I've been relying on the Keith Baines "rendition". As discussed in this space before, Baines endeavors according to his introduction not to invent or omit any incidents, but doesn't quite bring it off. In its favor, it's a single paperback volume that's easy to carry.


Recording the creative process

Often when I have a script ready to go but don't have anything to bring toward drawing, I'll take a three- or four-panel script and condense it to a single-panel gag.


I realized yesterday while setting up this cartoon that today's AKOTAS's sixth anniversary. 2192 daily cartoons without missing a day.

One day several years ago I ran across a quotation that goes something like, "Don't let what you can't do keep you from what you can do." It wasn't attributed to a name I recognized, and shortly I forgot the name (so if you know who it was, please email me, or comment at the AKOTAS forum or in my LiveJournal).

I think this quotation is all the defense I require against any complaint against AKOTAS. Yes, the writing isn't always all it would be if I had as much time and energy to spend on it as if it were my day job. Yes, the art isn't all it would be if I has the resources to spend on it as if it were my day job. Yes, those elements turn away some prospective readers, and once or twice have invited outright abuse of the sort that thrives on internet animosity anonymity.

But so what? I'm doing the best I can, which includes never missing a day for six years, because that's something I can do. And supporting it all by myself (with some exceptions, thank you again all who've made donations over the years). And doing it all well enough to have hundreds of readers a day and thousands of readers a month.

In other news, I was contacted recently by a party composing an article for the journal Arthuriana (linked below), requesting permission to use AKOTAS strips selected to accompany a discussion of gender roles. When I'm notified of publication I'll of course pass it on here.

I've said for years - though not, to recollection, anywhere on the internet - that, if I'm remembered after I'm gone for something else than being someone else's friend or relation, it'll be for Arthur, King of Time and Space. It appears that this is going to be the case, if only by readers of back issues of Arthuriana.


Lancelot said, "You are so whipped," in Arthur's cartoons here.

Yesterday in this space I used the word animosity in an instance when I actually meant anonymity. But then, since I was talking about the internet, it still came to the same thing really.


Last week it was six years without a missed update. This week it's 2200 days in a row without a missed update. Ho hum.


This cartoon was originally scheduled to run yesterday, and yesterday's today. But I botched the running order. See, I decided early this week that, when I'm turning out so many last-minute filler or sketch cartoons these days, it might be better to go back to instituting a buffer, as I haven't done (except for special occasions like out-of-town trips) since the very, very earliest days of AKOTAS. Then, working ahead, I scripted this gag to follow immediately after Wednesday's. Then I forgot to draw it until I'd updated for yesterday with the gag that was scripted for today. If you were thinking this one would have been better to come before yesterday's, well, no argument from me.

Nevertheless, for a few days now I've taken advantage of Malory having outlined my next week or three for me, and I've been scripting and drawing two cartoons a day instead of just one. Before Gareth's quest is over, I hope and plan to have a buffer that would make Howard Tayler comfortable. And then I hope and plan to keep on drawing one or two a day for the indefinite future. That'll give me breathing room for the bad days and the busy days, which seem to come more often now than in the early years.


For fans of the technical aspect, I should mention that I've lately gone from working with photocopied pencils back to Extra Fine Point Sharpie, because I got tired of putting rushes through the printer-scanner twice.


There's more to Gareth's story in the Morte than I'm going to get to. There's a comic episode with him and Lyonnesse attempting to consummate their love before marriage and being foiled by Lynnette and the sisters' brother. There's Morgause dropping by Camelot all friendly-like, witnessing the parade of Beaumains' defeated challengers swearing fealty, and figuring out with Arthur who Beaumains really is. There's a grand tournament where Gareth Beaumains a Yellow Knight defeats all comers. And there's a Brown Knight.

But I didn't review the whole tale before I started writing it, and I led into the flashback with Arthur and Guenevere receiving "Beaumains" at Camelot a week after he'd left, instead of Gareth spending a year away. I wrote myself into that corner and I'm stuck in it.

On the other hand, the way things've played out, Gareth's flashback will last exactly from June 1 till June 30, and that's nice and tidy. It gives me a chance to get to the other major plotline from the sources that's coming up this summer.

Say, maybe I ought to review that one before I start serializing it.

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