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The Packrat is a series of comic strips created by David C. Lovelace (of Retarded Animal Babies and Metasonix front panel design fame) in 2005. They're all available online, some of the older ones including the first four ones exclusively, so the series does qualify as a web comic, but some of the strips, including the current ones, made it into print media.
The main character, Packrat, not only is a rodent, he's also the stereotype of a gear-hogging but largely uncreative synthesizer nerd taken to the extreme. He is one of the worst cases of Gear Acquisition Syndrome ever seen. He buys every synthesizer he can get, no matter how overpriced (but not if it's seriously damaged by his definition), and he prefers real hardware synths, preferably but not exclusively vintage analog ones, no matter how expensive. Yet, he rarely ever puts his synths to good use. It is a kind of Running Gag that Packrat never actually does anything creative with his gear such as recording and producing his own electronic music. All this gets him into frequent arguments with his wife, at least before his divorce which grants him more time and space for more synths.
Originally, Lovelace drew The Packrat mostly for himself and had it posted on MatrixSynth. After a couple of irregularly published strips, he got the chance to have The Packrat printed in the Keyboard magazine where it ran for eight issues until its hiatus in February 2006. Said hiatus lasted for more than four years, only interrupted by three special occasion comics. In August 2010, The Packrat returned to both the Web and the Keyboard Magazine.
- Agony of the Feet: In August 2005, a Yamaha CS80 fell onto Packrat's feet.
- Brand X: Averted; every single brand name is real, although they're mostly reduced to manufacturers and models of electronic musical instruments.
- The Cameo: Howard Jones, Stevie Wonder, Thomas Dolby and Herbie Hancock appear in the December 2011 strip. Also, several YouTube "celebrities" in the November 2010 strip.
- During his time travel, Packrat meets a whole line of famous persons from the history of synthesizers whom he asks to help him get back to his present.
- Christmas Episode: December 2005. Complete with a Buchla serving as the Christmas tree.
- Death Ray/Tank Goodness: The MAD-Ray combines an IFV with a Memorymoog-driven ray gun.
- Direct Demographic: Synth freaks. Nobody else would even understand the stories and the jokes.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Demon of Waste from December 2010, basically a typical Lovelace creature, but with countless eyes and a mouth full of keyboards. His only effect on Packrat is that the latter realizes there are still instruments he hasn't owned yet.
- Four-Fingered Hands
- Funny Animal/Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Almost all characters are animals and usually wearing no pants, including celebrities appearing in newer strips.
- Fun with Acronyms: The october 2010 strip features the MAD-Ray (Memorymoog Acoustic Death Ray).
- Genius Bonus: Most of the series seems to be one big one, but a possible actual bonus is to spot and name synthesizers and other devices which appear in the strips but remain unmentioned.
- Get Back to the Future: The 2011 storyline begins with Packrat inventing a keytar with a built-in flux capacitor to capacitate the flux of 88 voltage-controlled oscillators. However, not only does the keytar work as a time machine, it also burns one VCO per year traveled. Packrat accidentally lands in 1939, burns through the remaining VCOs trying to get back, and in the times where he ends up, it's often hard enough to find even one oscillator. He spends the rest of the storyline trying to get his hands on oscillators to travel forth in time.
- Humanoid Female Animal: Averted; the only remaining differences are that females have boobs and longer hair.
- Meaningful Name: Packrat himself.
- Monochrome Past: Packrat's time in 1939.
- San Dimas Time: While traveling through the history of synthesizers, Packrat is absent from his own time for a whole year.
- Packrat invents a keytar with a flux capacitor and meets Dr. Emmett L. Brown after ending up in 1955.
- August 2010, Packrat's double-sized return-to-Keyboard strip, has him redo the famous synthesizer scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and pay Homage to the appearance of a giant ARP 2500 synth in custom cases).
- The July 2007 strip is explicity declared to shout out to CustomSynth and Metasonix.
- The MAD-Ray is a shout-out to Spies Like Us.
- Skewed Priorities: Packrat lives and breathes this trope. For example, he prefers the knobs on a modular synth to those on his wife (January 2006) and a memoryless, single-voice ARP 2600 for $3000 to a Korg Triton workstation for $2000 (March 20, 2005). Also, in September 2010, Packrat gets himself a Clavia Nord Lead 2x anniversary model with reverse keys just because of the reverse keys, he neither knows nor cares how it sounds.
- Stable Time Loop: Packrat's encounter with Don Buchla August 2011 explains why Buchla's modular synths don't have keyboards.
- Story Arc: The 2011 time travel storyline is the only one so far.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: The reader is expected to be a synth geek. Justified in that only synth geeks know the series in the first place.