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

Rants 2011 January - June


Here's an example of a gag unavoidably targeted at a serial fiction's regular viewers. It doesn't mean anything unless you know Lancelot is a recovering homophobe.


Here's the preview:


I suppose it may be bad taste for contemporary Mordred to model fairy tale Mordred's death in snowmen for this gag, but I couldn't think of anything else Watterson's not done.


Today's gag swiped from Old Jews Telling Jokes. I'd like to be able to link to the actual page of this joke, but the only archive system they have is the search field and I couldn't come up with the keyword to get the one I wanted. I actually saw this joke in the Old Jews Telling Jokes book. I laughed aloud in the McDonald's.


Arthuriana, the Journal of Arthurian Studies; the website of the quarterly journal of the North American Branch of the International Arthurian Society, has published an article by Christina Francis titled Playing with Gender in Arthur, King of Time and Space.

I've been saying for some years that I suspect if I'm remembered after I'm gone, for other than being someone else's friend or relation, it'll be for Arthur, King of Time and Space. Now, I can know that that's true, if only for Arthuriana back issue readers.


This gag inspired by reader feedback.

I tried something different today. Having noted that it seems to give me a morale boost to draw in the mornings before work, I wrote this gag last night then put off drawing it till this morning. Whereas my usual update time has been 02:00-06:00 GMT, today it was more like 12:00-13:00. I'm going to try this variation on my routine for two or three days and see whether it works before I update the FAQ.


After I wrote the other day that I was going to try putting off drawing AKOTAS daily till morning of update date, on the grounds that drawing before work gives me a nice rush, it occurred to me that the problem with this idea is that sometimes the scanner doesn't work on the first go. Plus, that day I didn't recall afterwards leaving for work with the rush anticipated. So I decided to go back to the existing production and update routine.

Then, every day since, the cartoon production has been digital only without need for a scanner. What can ya do.


I'm certain I've noted in this space before: of The Once and Future King, the primary source for AKOTAS (even if for day-to-day inspiration I'm relying, currently, on the Baines "rendition" of Malory), the author T.H. White stated that the characters were the same as in Le Morte d'Arthur; and yet he portrayed a fast friendship between Arthur and Lancelot even though in Malory they hardly interact except when Malory needs someone to tell Arthur how cool Tristram is.

Well, during the tournament at Lonezep is when most of that coolness is relayed. Malory doesn't treat the False Guenevere story, and it's a mere accident of timing that I should arrive at that point in Tristram's story during the reign of the False Guenevere. But it's actually in the Baines the Malory that Arthur and Lancelot are in attendance at Lonezep and Guenevere isn't. It makes a nice opportunity to try and show that AKOTAS's Lancelot is valued by Arthur just as Guenevere is.


I'm doing this tournament in the space arc instead of the baseline/fairy tale arc like the others because there are things about the way chivalric fighting is done in the space are that need to be pointed up against future developments.

Tournament asers aren't in the visible spectrum because I posted yesterday's cartoon before I put aser beams in between the ships.


Somehow, in all my readings of all the versions of the Morte I've read, I've always till now overlooked the episode when Arthur sees Isolde for the first time and is enthralled so past the point of courtesy that Palodimes is compelled to knock him over.

(I'm not going to have Palodimes knock Arthur over in the space arc. A large element of the scenario is that the knights are all on horseback and anonymous, and that's a little much to work over into space arc convention. But you can take it as read that it happens in the fairy tale arc.)

Now, I'm pretty sure that AKOTAS's Arthur and Isolde haven't met before this point but I bet if I'm wrong there'll be a reader who can tell me.


You may recall from my first newspost here that I've hoped for years for a long-running video series based on the King Arthur legends to bring the characters the following they deserve, the same kind of following Captain Kirk, James Bond, Superman and, since about 2005, the Doctor have. (And, from more recent statements, that the BBC's Merlin, being more faithful in concept and execution to Smallville than Excalbur, suffices but doesn't quite fit the bill.)

You may recall from more than one newspost, and at least one actual cartoon, that I've said for years, in so many words, that the adult material in the Morte is inextricable from the plot and could even almost carry the plot by itself.

British tv writer Chris Chibnail's Camelot on Starz is exactly the series I would have made if I were in his position, sex scenes and all.

Well, not exactly. As readers of AKOTAS will realize, my Camelot would have been more colorful, less gritty; more legendary and less historical. And my Merlin would more likely have been played by McKellam or Gambon in a beard and a robe than by Fiennes decked out like a biker on his way to a SCA event.

But, as I tweeted yesterday while I was watching, Christmas is here.


Recording the creative process

I don't recall whether I've mentioned in this space that the interstellar travel storyline in Arthur's webcomic is based on one I drew in the 80s when my pre-internet audience was a group of Chicago science fiction fans, in which an invented character sent myself and my former college roommate (the person whose birthday I've given to Lancelot) to Alpha Centauri while Aihok and Effex (who were my characters long before they were Merlin's) roomed with my old roommate.

Today's gag and tomorrow's, as originally presented in 1982, depicted my roommate and me going about in spacesuits, just as Arthur and Lancelot above are doing. But those cartoons were pencil drawings on notebook or printer paper, distributed by being passed around parties and weekly meetings in a three-ring binder. In other words, uncolored. I could write comedy duo dialog for a paid of anonymous spacesuits without deciding which of my roommate and myself was delivering which stupid lines.

But it's a convention of AKOTAS, and of the cartoon-within-the-cartoon here, that the characters always wear the same identifying color. Adapting the gags I'm using today and tomorrow for AKOTAS from my 80s cartoons entails actually picking which of these characters speaks which of these lines, which is something I was happy not to have to do in these gags' previous appearances. As I write this post I actually haven't done that yet, because I'm putting it off. I'm not sure why I'm putting it off. I'm not sure why avoiding that decision in the past has been important to me, or why having to make it now kinda freaks me out. But it does.

In other news, today's the anniversary of the day in 1994 when I started drawing pencil pre-web webcomics for the science fiction fans I knew in Louisville. ...I think it was 1994. I guess you're getting old when you remember the date of an anniversary but not the year. I could always get out of my chair and go look in the blue binder in the bookshelf upstairs. But that'd be cheating.


Recording the creative process

I was going to run this gag two days ago. Then I couldn't settle on what to use for the gag-within-the-gag, plus I remembered that I'd been meaning to write a space Merlin gag for a few days, and I scripted the one I did run two days ago. But I wanted to get Merlin and Nimue out of Ernie & Bert's clothes and into something new, and I decided on Doc Brown and Marty's clothes. But I couldn't draw that during the day because I couldn't search images at work for reference photos. Then by the time I got home I was too beat to linedraw, and the gag got done in triangles, as regular AKOTAS gags sometimes are.

Then I was going to run this gag yesterday, but I thought it'd be bad pacing to do one of Arthur's triangle cartoons right after a triangle AKOTAS. But then, since the whole point of this gag is that the gag-within-the-gag is from Arthur's life, I figured, use the gag-within-the-gag. (Then I was too beat to muck around with the scanner so I linedrew it with the mouse.)

Then I cribbed the final panel of today's from a previous cartoon and didn't have to use the scanner for today's either.

Now I've just remembered that Arthur and Guenevere are going to the royal wedding, so that's what tomorrow's gag must be about.


I linedrew the 5/11/11 cartoon with the mouse instead of a pen because I thought I wasn't alert enough to pen draw. Then the figure of Dinadan was so poorly drawn that the next day I did it over in pen. I don't think I've ever done that before. There have been times I've replaced a mousedrawn drawing with a pendrawn drawing when the reason I mousedrew was because there were pen rushes that I was unable to scan till the next day. But I don't think I've ever redrawn and replaced a cartoon's drawings the next day for quality control.

This is the version I disliked enough to break tradition:

(Because of the way my hosting caches, you may not see the new version now if you loaded the old version yesterday unless you clear your cache or even restart your browser.)


When my wife brought in the mail yesterday she kept this piece of junkmail for me to see:


Ordinarily an announcement in the cartoon such as the one above would be accompanied by a newspost containing further elucidation but, really, this time Merlin's said it all.


We've already seen what happens next in the space arc, so tomorrow we'll follow up in the fairy tale arc.


The poses if not the fashions in today's sketch were inspired by - well, I can't describe it better than this.

Arthur, King of Time and Space

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