Digital strips

By JOE BERNARDI  |  July 10, 2007

While the sheer variety of subject matter and formal creativity of Dinosaur Comics might speak for itself, the comic’s large, rabid fanbase espouses the comic’s quality every chance they get. North seems to take much of the appreciation in stride, regularly displaying a downright classy amount of appreciation for his fans, but he points out that certain aspects of his notoriety have more of an effect on him than others. “The most surreal is the tattoos,” he says. “A few people have gotten DC tattoos and that always freaks me out. In a good way, but still! It's my characters on their skin, for as long as they live. I always warn them and say, ‘what if tomorrow I reveal that T-Rex is actually a CRAZY RACIST?  You'll be stuck!’”  He adds, “It's trust, I guess, and it seems to me like a huge amount of trust to get a tattoo of T-Rex. I try not to let them down and T-Rex hasn't been a crazy racist yet.”

Primarily because of its “esoteric” nature, North is quick to admit that “Dinosaur Comics couldn’t have gotten its start in print.” He adds that, being online, Dinosaur Comics isn’t pushing anyone else from the finite space of a comics page. “It makes it so that I can do something as obscure and narrow as I can imagine,” he says, “and odds are I'll come across someone else who has the same interests. I could have done ‘One-Legged Parachutist Comics’ focusing entirely on one-legged parachutist issues, and while I'm not saying it would have been a Grand Success, it still would have had a chance to find an audience. Not so in print!”

Regardless of one’s definition of “Grand Success,” the fact remains that North makes his living from Dinosaur Comics’ advertisements and merchandise sales. (North:  “When I graduated from grad school it was ‘continue doing comics’ or ‘get a real job’ and I went with the option that seemed more awesome.”) His first official book, Dinosaur Comics:  Your Whole Family Is Made Out of Meat, was released last year, and with the comic’s popularity continuing to rise, it can be safely assumed that more are in the works. As it retains its blissful sameness, it’s clear that Dinosaur Comics has quite the road ahead of it. Recent subject matter:  Internet business models, Rene Descartes, and things T-Rex is unable to fit into his mouth.

THE PERRY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP

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Two brothers ride a rollercoaster in celebration of their father’s death. Mime City’s mayoral candidate is assassinated with an invisible rifle. A pirate’s life is saved with a wooden aorta during open-heart surgery. In his comic, The Perry Bible Fellowship, Nicholas Gurewitch tackles these situations with hilarity and artistic panache that belies the ridiculousness of most of his premises.

The PBF, as it has come to be known, got its start in Gurewitch’s college newspaper. When Gurewitch put his entire inventory of comics on the web, however, “the e-mail addresses of fan-mail stopped ending with ‘syr.edu’ and started ending with ‘co.uk’ and ‘com.nz’.” Since then, Gurewitch’s comics have become standbys on message boards and dorm room walls everywhere.

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