is a single panel webcomic
written, drawn, and colored by William "Woody" Hearn. Established July 10
and launched August 15
, GU is published, free, five times a week on its own web site (hosted by the SafeHouse
). The comic focusses primarily on a single video game
such as World of Warcraft
; but, it also comments on gaming industry and community news, often lampoons gamers in general through the adventures of Hearn and his fictional roommate, Ted, and occasionally parodies contemporary social, political, and personal issues related to the online and general video game world. Unlike many other more successful gaming-related webcomics, GU eschews any semblance of plot or character development.
GU Comics was first released to a small group of friends on July 10th, 2000. Then known as "/gu ...", the original comics were set inside the MMOG fantasy world of Everquest and centered around the in-game antics of the artist and members of his guild (Purifying Light on Vallon Zek). Intended only as a hobby, the comic's link was passed around to various Everquest related community sites (Evercrest.Com being chief among them). On July 25
, GU was contacted by the GameFan/Game Answer Network with an offer of affiliation and a proposal to go "live". Now hosted on the GameFan/Game Answer Network, GU was released for wide public consumption August 15th, 2000. The response was swift and significant. Since its inception GU has change hosts for various reasons. February 4
, GU moved to its current home: the Safehouse
On February 5th, 2003, signifying the move to the Safehouse and a shift in interest to the wider gaming world rather than focussing specifically on Everquest, the slash and ellipses were officially dropped from the GU logo. As of April 9th, 2007 the format of the comic was shifted from 300x465 to 600x450. Along with the format shift the logo, and comic type sub-text was removed from the strip.
GU is hand drawn on 110 lbs. bright white card stock using a 5x7 inch template. The sketch is inked with Sakura Pigma Micron pens using an 02 nib for details and an 05 nib for emphasis lines. The inked image is scanned in at 1200 dpi for the purpose of cleaning up linework. The images are then resized to 300 dpi and colored using Adobe Photoshop CS
on a Wacom Cintiq 21UX
. The comic is then resized to internet resolution, where backgrounds, text, lighting and the gu logo, reference, by-line, and copyright info are added. Once the comic is published, a writeup, citing relevant news sources when needed, is associated with the comic and linked from the front page and archives.
The direction of the art in the comic has changed constantly throughout GU's history. Earlier strips were intentionally simplified and used a 2-color gradient as the background. The current work is a mix of complex detail, colored in a hard edge anime style, offset by a cartoon-like exaggeration of proportion and anatomy. The characters and text are set upon highly distorted backgrounds relevant to the theme of the comic, and use soft, but intense, light sources that serve as a counterpoint to the hard-edged coloring style. Text bubbles and font choices have remained relatively unchanged since GU's inception. It is at this point unclear as to what a "hard-edge anime style" may consist of. In recent years GU's art style has seemingly devolved from a previous focus on quality and is more apt to feature nothing more than enormous, mishappen heads screaming at unknown entities off-panel. Often Woody Hearns will attempt to depict industry related personalities in his strip, creating what may be seen as a sort of sidewalk caricature art stand for the gaming industry.
GU is not a long-term storyline-based comic, instead featuring single, stand-alone comics or short, three-to-four-comic storylines. However, there are several characters that do make frequent appearances in the comic. These characters include:
- Woody- a fictionalized and much thinner version of Woody Hearn himself, almost always drawn with his characteristic orange ballcap. (introduced: September 1, 2000)
- Ted Prescott- The fictional roommate of Woody who has often been described as Woody’s id given form. He is notorious for his obsession with all things game-related, as well as his conflicts with a sleep-deprivation-created hallucinatory monkey that he swears is real. Note that since Woody and Ted lack any fully-realized personalities they are largely interchangeable. (introduced: September 1, 2000)
- Iggy McStickson- The stick figure character which replaces a standard comic in times of technical difficulty, sickness, or whenever else Hearns feels indisposed to write a comic. (introduced: October 1, 2000)
- The Zapper- Although not a character as much as a representation of the death of things in the game industry, in some cases the characterization includes not just games, but game companies, developers, publishers, and other concepts or things relating to the industry that all share a similar impending doom, it has made numerous appearances in many comics, with a few flies appearing as characters heading towards the zapper, indicating the something's, at least at the time of the comic being made, likely demise. Games,Companies and etc that have been represented by flies unless noted otherwise in these strips at one point or another include; Shadowbane and Horizons are constantly in the comics as either commentators or watchers of the other flies in most cases they provide the dialogue of the strips, Ghostbusters, Wet, Brutal Legend, Wish, Acclaim, Cyan Worlds, Mourning, The Phantom Gaming Console, Uru Live, Asheron's Call 2, Dragon Empires, Mythica, Ultima X: Odyssey, Imperator, Wolfpack Studios, Atari, Infinium Labs, GU Comics, EI Interactive (Although as a Lightbulb), Endsless Saga, Planetside, Auto-Assault, Seed, Gametap (As the gametap emblem), Computer Games Magazine, Massive Magazine, FASA, Ryzom, Gods & Heroes, The Nintendo Wavebird, Star Trek Online, Arden: The World Of William Shakespeare, Perpetual/P2, Netscape Browser, Stormfront Studios, Istaria, Flagship Studios, Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Rubies Of Eventide, Warhammer Online.(introduced: July 1, 2004)
| Supporting Characters |
| Vhah - Barbarian Warrior (EQ) , Toast - Troll Warrior (DAoC) , Grektholar "Grek" - Orc Warrior (WoW) , Brad - Ted's Boss , The Vision - Brad McQuaid's idealistic vision of game design , The Gamer Girls (unnamed) - The female perspective , The Flies - represent troubled games , ED-209 (cat) & Ceasar (pug) - Woody's "evil" pets , Barhuk - Orc Dreadknight (VSOH) , Monkey - product of Ted's sleep deprived imagination |
- SOE Boycott - In May 2004, GU Comics became the center of attention when Woody Hearn posted a comic satirizing the Omens of War expansion for Everquest. In the attendant forum writeup, he called for a boycott by EverQuest players against the Omens of War expansion in an effort to force Sony Online Entertainment, who produces EverQuest, to correct the numerous issues players had with the game rather than release another expansion so quickly on the heels of the previous one. The call to boycott was rescinded after SOE held a summit to address player concerns, improve (internal and external) communication, and begin correcting issues within the game
GU Comics has featured costume contests for its readers for Halloween, unofficial gatherings at various conventions, gaming trade shows, and the Texas Renaissance Festival. In addition, Hearn has been invited to review the development of and write NDA
-friendly reviews of various games, including Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
. GU Comics has been featured in many online webzines and print media, including Gamespy, Joystiq, GamePolitics.com, MMORPG.Com, MMORPGamer, Computer Games Magazine, Der Spielekurier, and the film Avatars Offline
Several GUComics relevant to World of Warcraft
were referenced in the official Community News of World of Warcraft Europe.
Hearn has been invited to visit the studios of Sony Online Entertainment, Sigil Games, Mythic Entertainment, and NetDevil, was a yearly press attendee at E3, was invited as a guest of honor to Blizzard Entertainment's BlizzCon to serve on a panel with the creators of Penny Arcade and PvP, and is a yearly participant/guest of honor ConnectiCon.