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

Rants 2010 July - December


This is the second time (here is the first) that I've projected into the far future because I've decided Arthur needs to be the butt of a joke about middle-age spread. Or rather, apparently, senior spread. I thought about setting this gag in the present in the space arc/timezone, with Arthur in the first panel and Merlin in the last; but I decided the person in the first panel needed to be beardless (yet, for obvious reasons, male).

The previous golf gag is just one that readers have stated give cause for hope that the other AKOTAS arcs may have happier endings than the baseline/fairy tale arc is doomed to have. Of course at this time I confirm or deny nothing, but I will point out that only with the two contemporary arc flashforwards with golf have we seen Arthur's hair color and hairline in quite this state.

Note that this time I managed to get their golf gloves on the side I intended.


If you follow me on LiveJournal or Twitter (which amounts to almost the same thing - I signed up at Twitter to use it as an LJ client), you know lately I've been working up a buffer for AKOTAS.

In the early weeks of AKOTAS I started with a buffer, then stopped because I had lost the thrill of updating with a gag I'd just written that day. But in recent years I've been resorting to fillers more often than in the early years, which is the worse because I no longer keep up the early years' practice of keeping a stock of prepared fillers.

So for about a month I've been trying to write and draw two cartoons a workday every week. I'm not always successful, but I haven't had to put out a last minute filler in all that time. I plan to keep it up until I have buffer for a week or two before I go back to only drawing seven a week.

I mention this largely because I'd prefer Thing of Shapes to Come gags aren't mistaken for fillers.


When I drew yesterday's cartoon I meant to put a paragraph in this space noting that the maiden poking herself into the final panel is meant per the Morte to be a handmaiden of Morgan's. I was going to suggest that you may have figured that out for yourself without my hint, given that she's dressed in a shade of green, and given that that outfit is more or less the same outfit as the handmaiden with the poison cloak wore.

But between when I drew it and when I posted it was enough of an interval that I forgot my intention until yesterday's updating was already accomplished. So I hope I was right, and you figured it out for yourself then.


Here's something a buffer is good for.

I wrote the gag that's running today a few days ago, several days after I'd written the one that ran yesterday. I thought, "Pity I didn't think of this earlier, to go with the gags about other arcs' versions of the same incident."

Then yesterday, as I was preparing the update for the gag I originally dated today, I was also getting ready to finish the rushes for this gag. (Another advantage to having a buffer is you can take a few days off if you're short on sleep from overnight post-nasal drip.) I was dating this gag 7/15 when I stopped to think, "Hey! Why didn't I think, when I was regretting not writing this gag earlier, of the fact that the gags it ought to have gone with are just running now?"

Well, I don't know why I didn't think of it then, but when I thought of it today it was just in time to have this gag run after the other gags on the theme had just run out. So here it is, bumping the other gags thought of between yesterday's and this one a day later each.


The check I mailed for the AKOTAS hosting bill hasn't arrived. They're being patient but a short interruption of service may occur. Watch my Twitter or LJ as necessary.


After I drew this, I realized I'm not certain Bertelay is going to appear in the space timezone version of the story in question.


Here at Blastr (formerly SciFiWire), the news section of the SyFy (formerly the SciFi Channel) website, is an article about the upcoming Starz Camelot with quotes from star Joseph Fiennes and writer Chris Chibnail (with, incidentally, a different headline than it had when I first saw it about noon GMT Monday). For about ten years I've been wanting to see the Matter of Britain appear in a longrunning serial in a visual medium (my own hunble effort notwithstanding). I enjoy the BBC Merlin, but it is what it set out to be (Smallville A.D. 500) and not what I've been looking for. Camelot maybe is.


Recording the creative process

I scripted a joke about Vortigern's tower inspiring the Tarot card, decided I didn't like it, decided not to junk the art just in case, came up with a different joke about Vortigern's tower and the Tarot card, and scripted the second joke so I could use the existing art (though the first two or three lines of dialog are essentially the same).

I also hadn't been too sure about the art. The figures in the first three panels are really too big for quarter panels. And why I drew Vortigern's tower leaning like Pisa's, I don't know. Except that I have half an impression that the tower in the Tarot card leans.


Recording the creative process

The Lancelot-Grail Reader has previously been noted in this space as 1) an abridgement of the English translation of the French Vulgate romance cycle that was one of Malory's sources 2) my source for those Vulgate episodes Malory didn't use, such as the False Guenevere episodes. In the Reader I found it ambiguous whether Arthur is genuinely taken in by the False Guenevere, because the scene when he rules in her favor is one briefly summarized instead of reproduced in full. But no one else seems to be fooled - in fact the Pope interdicts the entire high kingdom until the matter's put right and Guenevere is restored to her throne.

In AKOTAS's space and fairy tale arcs, obviously, Arthur is allowing himself to be taken in for his own reasons. Yet I couldn't bring myself to have him betray Guenevere in the contemporary arc as he's doing in the other two major arcs; and when I articulated to myself the reason for that, I thought I'd better write it in. Cuz if I didn't readers'd only write in and ask.

As an army man, contemporary Kay probably shouldn't have a mustache any more than he has the same hair length as in the other arcs, but without it he'd be totally unrecognizeable so he gets to keep it.

In other news, I have a DeviantArt account. I didn't sign up to place any art there, and if you go there now all you'll find is a Doctor Who gag linked in the favorites section that I don't even remember favoriting; I think I favorited it by accident. I signed up to be able to see other webcartoonists' pieces that are behind content advisory blocks.

But it occurs to me that that's probably the best place to send AKOTAS readers as a temporary home for updates if there's ever trouble with this site. Remember, the place to look for information on update troubles (since by definition you can't rely on finding such information here) are my Twitter or my LiveJournal (which mirrors my Twitter). If and when it ever happens, I'll probably imbed the DeviantArt-uploaded cartoon(s) at LiveJournal, so you'd probably want to go directly there or DeviantArt.

And if I ever start actually putting art up at DeviantArt I'll announce it here. I didn't expect to actually blog at LiveJournal, so you never know.


In the sources it's not Tristram's estates that Guenevere and Lancelot retire to during the False Guenevere's reign. It's Galehaute's realm in Serleuse. In AKOTAS, however, Galehaute is years dead. But - in AKOTAS - Tristram's story has just now arrived (partly by design, if "I noticed a few months ago that the timing could be worked out" constitutes "partly by design") at the point when Tristram and Isolde shack up in a castle instead of in a hut in the woods. In one of the sources I've read, perhaps a quite modern one for all I recall for certain, the castle is Tristram's and is called Dolorous Gard, but is later owned by Lancelot, and becomes the Joyous Gard that comes into the end of Arthur's story. In the version of Malory that I carry around, it's just Lancelot's Joyous Gard from the start. But I like the other version better.

The next episode in Tristram's timeline in Malory is the only appearance in Malory by Galehaute, the tournament at Serleuse. I'm still thinking about a workaround for that. But I can't very well leave out what Robert Graves called the only comic episode in the whole Morte (though I wonder what he thought the exchange between Gawaine and Sir Priamus was).


I've discussed it more on LiveJournal and Twitter than here, but I've been keeping a buffer of at least a few days here at AKOTAS for three and a half months now, aided by the prepackaged tales of Gareth and the False Guenevere popping up in such short order. Sunday (yesterday as you're reading this) however was the first time since mid-June I didn't even have a planned script for the cartoon Tuesday following the Monday cartoon I was updating with.

Well, I did mention the tournament at Serleus the other day. Or perhaps it's time to bring Percivale in. Or the Green Knight, or the Loathly Lady.

(Or time to, as I always meant to do after the first year or so, start updating with reruns instead of half-inspired fillers on bad days.)


I ran a rerun today rather than come up with a new joke to cover old ground. I'm interested in audience opinion against the future, though: is a rerun better than a punchlineless filler? Email me, or post at the forum, or comment at my livejournal.


In the sources Kay actually strikes the maiden for thinking so highly of Percival. I couldn't bring myself to draw that.


As longtime readers may recall, I occasionally offer the opportunity to show appreciation with PayPal donations when at risk of service interruption. There's a PayPal donation button on the main page that'll remain till my next quarter's hosting services are taken care of.


I ought've written in this space yesterday that the bit about the current Galehaute the Haute Prince of Serleuse being the son of the previously appearing Galehaute the Haute Prince of Serleuse is my patch for having a Galehaute appear in my version of his only appearance in the Morte after I've already dealt with his death in my version of his appearance in the Vulgate. Now, a little later on in the tournament, there's a bit in which this Galehaute plots with some of Lancelot's enemies ... or is that in the chapter after this? I don't remember right now and I'll look later. Anyway, even allowing for the inaccuracy of the Baines "rendition" of the Morte which is what I'm using right now, it makes no sense for Galehaute the Haute Prince to be an enemy of Lancelot anyway unless it's not the Galehaute the Haute Prince who pined away at Lancelot's absence but someone else called Galehaute the Haute Prince, and who would both hate Lancelot better and be called that than the son of the one who died? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Properly Morgause's death comes after Pellinore's. And just before the tournament at Serleuse. I had overlooked it somehow before I got to Serleuse, but Morgause's death and the circustances surrounding it were Lamorak's reasons in the Morte for not wanting to brave the Orkney boys at Camelot afterwards. So here's Morgause's death. Pellinore's death, on the other hand, I mean to save for at about the midpoint of AKOTAS's run. At this time, however, while I'm certain there'll be a second timeskip like the one after the filler hiatus in 2009, I'm still deciding when it'll come; and how much time will be skipped; and whether there'll be a hiatus or just a skip; and, if there's a hiatus, whether there'll be a filler format like in 2009 or whether I'll just take some time off. So I don't know now when's AKOTAS's midpoint, though obviously I don't think we've hit it yet. When Pellinore buys it you'll know AKOTAS has, as Captain Picard put it, fewer years ahead than behind.

In Malory, Gaheris kills Morgause. In White, Agravaine kills Morgause. Having lifted their characterizations pretty much whole from White, I feel odd having Gaheris do it. But I can't imagine that Agravaine would kill Morgause and then spare Lamorak, for any reason, let alone on account of the Table's code.

I didn't purposefully plan to draw possibly the most horrific scene in all AKOTAS on a Halloween, but that worked out nicely didn't it?


At least one reader was confused by the third panel of yesterday's cartoon, because last we saw Merlin was still alive in the space arc. But look at it again, and note Arthur's hair color and uniform. It's the same as in other space flashforwards Arthur's been in. And Nimue's in the same outfit as the very first flashforward foreshadowing Merlin's death.


Speaking of having confused at least one reader last week: I didn't think till I was drawing the cartoon for Halloween day that Gaheris' sword ought to have some blood on it. Well, a lot. But I decided that that would be even more confusing in the first panel than leaving it out; since in the first panel it would imply that Gaheris had struck Lamorak already, but Lamorak wasn't bleeding, and the panel's dialog was about Lamorak being spared for the moment. Perhaps, if I hadn't left it till the last minute to think of it, I'd've come up with a different solution. But there you are.


I should mention that for Percivale's story I'm cribbing not from Malory but from Robert Lancelyn Green, whose story Sir Percival of Wales appears in The Mammoth Book of Arthurian Legends, Mike Ashley ed. Also, AKOTAS' version of Lancelot's abduction by the four queens was partly informed by that volume's The Temptation of Lancelot by Peter Valentine Timlett, where I encountered the notion that Lancelot entertained no designs on Guenevere until Morgan told him everyone knows she has it for him.

Presently I'm in the middle of Arthur Machen's Guinevere and Lancelot. I haven't picked the book up for weeks, though, because I was put off by that Machen has it that Guenevere secured Lancelot's affections by magic. Notwithstanding that the Lancelot story was probably inspired by the Tristram story which has a love potion in some versions, I've never, ever elsewhere encountered the notion that the love between Guenevere and Lancelot was anything but internally organic. Anyone else even seen that?

Percivale has a gag about how polite he is in his first set too. Those of you familiar with his story know where that's leading.


Remember a few weeks ago in this space I wrote that the death of Pellinore (or, as it happens, the first intimation of the death of Pellinore) would mark the midpoint of AKOTAS' run, and that I wasn't sure exactly when that would be but there were plans to accomodate and I ought to check? I checked.

Tomorrow starts the other thing I've been saving for the midpoint.


The two cartoons from the beginning of the week that went uncolored, because my laptop's wireless mouse has gone bad, are now colored. It's actually not all that much more difficult to color with a touchpad, just more time-consuming, as I might have remembered (but didn't) from the last time this happened to me.

I shall probably stop at Best Buy on my way to work Black Friday and get a new one. And perhaps a USB drive to replace the one that I put through the wash, though it's been behaving, just in case.


C*A*V*E, a year later than Comrades in Arms, was the episode when we suddenly, after more than half their ultimate screen history, saw Hawkeye claustrophobic and Hot Lips scared of loud noises, for the first and last time. Though I suppose, given the last scene of act two of Comrades in Arms Part 1 [reeneacted by Arthur and Guenevere tomorrow], it could be argued that C*A*V*E wasn't the only time we saw Hot Lips phobic about loud noises.


If you go back and look at the very first MASH arc week, you'll see that Percivale's first appearance in AKOTAS was as a chopper pilot.



Readers of this space or of the FAQ know that AKOTAS' characters' clothing is color-coordinated, and the rest may have just figured it out by themselves by now. I agonized for a minute or two whether I ought to have Bertilak wear a different color than green while Gawaine was his guest, in order not to give away the ending that most of my readership either will already know or will guess. Then I wrote this gag.


This week I discovered I can't draw curtseys.


This is how sick I've been this week: When I drew Friday's cartoon it was with the intent to, in post-production, paste into the first panel a previous day's figures of Bertilak's lackeys carrying his day's hunting spoils. I scripted and drew rushes for Friday's at the beginning of the week, days ahead of time. Then I forgot the lackeys during postproduction. The day after postproduction, when I was already symptomatic for the cold I've been fighting since Tuesday, it occurred to me that I still needed to do that. Then I forgot about it again till yesterday. Below is side-by-side the first panel of Friday's as it appeared the first two days it was up, along with the first panel as it appears since today's update.


In case you're thinking, "But Bedivere is female in the contemporary arc," I don't blame you, because not much has been made since of what happened in these strips:

In case you're thinking, "Kay's hair's longer than that," check out this one:


I've been doing standalone gags this week for the firsst time in awhile. The last time I tried this, it didn't seem to work well, which turned out for the best because it made me realize the Green Knight story was due. This week, even though it's the holidays, I've done just fine (where "just fine" for a holiday season week means only one filler).

The cast & FAQ page and the new reader orientation page have finally been updated with the aftermath of the return of the False Guenevere.

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