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On Calling Graphic Novels What They Are

On Calling Graphic Novels What They Are published on No Comments on On Calling Graphic Novels What They Are

(… which is, you know, comics).

I wrote a little article that is getting picked up a few places. Check it out, if you’re interested.

I’m not entirely comfortable writing something made entirely out of words. It feels like cheating to not spend a couple weeks creaking out a bunch of ink drawings before sending something out into the world.


Mascot! published on No Comments on Mascot!

Sis Boom Bah! Rah Rah Rah! Go Sciapods, Go!

You’ve heard the school fight song, now meet the mascot!

The fine athletics teams of Presbyter King University are represented by Shagmar the Scrappy Sciapod!

Sciapods are a hairy folk with one leg and one giant foot, which they use to shade themselves from the blistering desert sun. They were subjects of PKU’s patron saint, Prester John, Priest-King of Not-India, along with the Blemmyae, the Panotti, and the Cynocephelai (these last our own heroes encountered upon the Moon).


Somewhere, on some hard drive or other, I have a bunch more of these pictograms. I’ll post ’em if I find ’em.

Let Fly the Rockets of War

Let Fly the Rockets of War published on No Comments on Let Fly the Rockets of War

Co-writer and co-creator of the strip, Benito Cereno, despite clearly being a fictional persona I created to distance myself from full ownership of this comic, has, like a Gogol’s nose, escaped into the real world. It was one thing when he was keeping a twitter account and writing articles for websites and having an extensive backlog of delightful comics to his name—but now he’s appearing on podcasts.

War Rocket Ajax!

Namely, he’s on top-tier comics podcast, War Rocket Ajax, where he talks about… well, I haven’t had a chance to listen to it (I just learned about it, and right now the soundscape of the house is filled with Beyoncé, which the Lovely Wife is blasting to ward off pre-election anxiety). As far as I know, Benito spends the whole time spuriously claiming to have invented me as a nome d’arte.

Give it a listen, and let me know what you think, won’t you?

The Tingler! and, more generally, Benito.

The Tingler! and, more generally, Benito. published on No Comments on The Tingler! and, more generally, Benito.

The Mummy’s Sabbatical’s own Benito Cereno is an expert on many things, including Christmas Lore, Antiquity, Comics, and—most appropriate to the season—the expansive genre of Horror. And he’s written a piece for “Horror Month” over at the Robot’s Pajamas about master huckster William Castle and his famous piece of cinema gimmickry, The Tingler. It’s worth a read. Benito is pretty danged good with words.

Want more of Benito’s words when they aren’t locked in a death struggle for dominance with my own petty scrawlings? He’s a regular writer over at Comics Alliance. He scripts a lot of trivia primer videos for pop culture touchstones, but I’d especially point you to his tributes of great cartoonists past, which are always 1000% on point.

Ramona Fradon
C.C. Beck
Carl Barks
Otto Binder
And, of course, the grandaddy of us all, Winsor McKay

A good way to keep up with all his doings (and to enjoy his wonderful, hilarious, erudite answers to readers’ questions) is to follow his Tumblr, Burgeoning Lads of Science.

Setka and Tenzing

Setka and Tenzing published on No Comments on Setka and Tenzing

Do you know about Tenzing Norgay?
Tenzing Norgay

He was Edmund Hillary’s mountaineering guide, and the two of them were the first to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest. Hillary and John Hunt (who did not actually go to the summit) were knighted for this achievement, but Tenzing (who not only went to the top, but was carrying all the gear) simply received a medal.


It has been a long road … From a mountain coolie, a bearer of loads, to a wearer of a coat with rows of medals who is carried about in planes and worries about income tax.

He was an interesting guy who is worth reading more about.

Amazing accomplishments and a winning smile aside, the reason he’s relevant here is because he wore a pretty amazing tweed jacket.


A few years ago, this jacket was lovingly reproduced by Nigel Cabourn.

Nigel Cabourn's Tenzing jacket

The Tenzing Jacket has since drifted from the original model, and is now called the Mallory, which… welp.

Anyway, among Professor Setka’s extensive selection of tweed jackets are several inspired by Tenzing’s original, albeit tailored to his skeletal frame.
Setka's Tenzing Jacket

Personally, I think this is a key to Setka’s personality. He knows a lot, and has a lifetimes of experience, and so he can reliably find the right adventuring resources. Need a great jacket for derring-do in a wide variety of environments? This is a pretty good choice. But he’s enough of a disconnected dreamer that he misses out on some practical necessities (and takes that hyper-practical jacket to be tailored into a trim, more physically restrictive, silhouette).

Like, I imagine, during his very, very short reign as Pharoh, that he spent a lot of time and resources developing projects of immense value and vision and expense, marked by utter impracticability. Say, a pneumatic tube complex that would have run parallel with the irrigation systems in Ancient Egypt. Shame they didn’t have air compression technology.

Hmm. I’ll have to confer with Benito as to whether or not that’s canon, now.

Anyway. Tenzing. Pretty cool guy.

P.S. Way back in Week 6, Setka is sleeping in his office with a Nigel Cabourn lookbook over his face. This counts as an easter egg for a very, very narrow stratum of geek.


Reviewed! published on No Comments on Reviewed!

The Mummy’s Sabbatical has been reviewed by “the first and greatest” comics review podcast, Digital Strips, in their 455th episode. They say nice things!

Two relevant points:
1. The reviewers attribute the comic to me, Joel Priddy. But this strip is created in collaboration with Benito Cereno, the co-creator and co-writer and the one responsible for all the jokes in dead languages. Their mistake is understandable, because Benito Cereno is a novella by Herman Melville, and you don’t expect to credit novellas, even ones that aren’t by Herman Melville, with authorship of web comics.

2. This is the second review in a row to compare The Mummy’s Sabbatical with Dresden Codak, which means I guess I need to read that strip.

Digital Strip reviews The Mummy’s Sabbatical

The Almagest

The Almagest published on No Comments on The Almagest

The rocket Fran and Setka ride into space is an epicycle named The Almagest.

The Almagest prototypes
Sketches of the Almagest

Looking back, I really like the more gondola-looking designs. Oh well. Roads not taken.

Casini Apparent

“Almagest” basically means “Greatest”, by way of Greek filtered through Arabic into English. It’s a superlative nickname attached to Claudius Ptolemy’s Syntaxis Mathematica. Which, apparently, people really liked a lot.

Syntaxis Mathematica describes the motions and distances between the planets, and puts forth the geocentric model of the Solar System for which Ptolemy is still plenty famous.

Epicycle” is a term from the treatise, describing planetary orbits.

An illustration from Albert Robida's Le Vingtième Siècle, 1883
An illustration from Albert Robida’s Le Vingtième Siècle, 1883
Fran and Setka’s Almagest is inspired/blatantly ripped off from the aircraft designs of Albert Robida. If you have an affection for retro-futurism or steampunk or just amazing vintage illustrations, you are surely familiar with Robida’s work. If you’re not: Welcome to several hours of pleasurable browsing!