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 An Illustrated Jocularity

What happens when you mix Victorian-era illustrations with modern day insanity?

Welcome to the world of David Malki !'s Wondermark. A world of top hats and Steampunk laptops played down to contrast the modern, neurotic characters that populate it. A gag-a-day webcomic with Negative Continuity and no recurring characters (except maybe the alien Gax), each strip is a brief window into the lives of absurd but not entirely unrealistic new people.

The humor is a little diverse on a strip-to-strip basis but the bulk of it comes from good ol' human neuroses and eccentricities. Common subjects are banter and 'duels', often between spouses, observations about society and culture, poop jokes and a healthy dose of hypocrisy and narcissism. There's also an occasional abstract strip that relies more on visual gags and general weirdness. One thing that always remains prevalent is a strong sense of irony.

The author has arranged some of his favorite strips on a single page as an introduction to new readers; this can be found here. Of particular interest to tropers is this recent strip, featuring the Electro-Plasmic Hydrocephalic Genre-Fiction Generator 2000.

Also worth checking out are The Comic Strip Doctor, a critical dissection of newspaper comics, and Dispatches From Wondermark Manor, a series of parody Victorian novels, both by the same author.

Wondermark provides examples of:

  • Alt Text: Of the bonus joke kind.
  • Anachronism Stew: The DeLorean as a train.
  • Art Style Dissonance: The art is taken straight from sophisticated Victorian art. The jokes are absurd and often nonsensical.
  • Author Tract: Frequently subverted. Characters will start off making a typical 'angry webcomic author' rant at someone, only to go somewhere very, very strange. Example.
  • Beat Panel
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Starhorse arc invokes this in the most frustrating way possible--the fisherman ends up only catching one of five horse-heads, and every time he tries to make a wish the single head warns him that whatever he wishes for will be reduced to one-fifth in the most inconvenient way possible.

 Linehorse: ...But alone, I can only one-fifthgrant wishes.

Fisherman: Ah! So if I were to ask for five million dollars, might I still get one?

Linehorse: Kind of like that. You would get five million fifth-dollars. Like, bills, but only one-fifth of each bill. Or sacks and sacks of wedge-shaped coins. No vending machine will take them.

 Salesman: "Hello sir for order a camel?"

Customer: "Capital! Thank you! Just one question before I set off. How high can this beast fly? Are we talking mountain-vaulting altitudes or is it more a graze-the-steeples type of affair?"

 "God, with a sword, can make a man a king. But a king, with a sword, can only make a man a knight. A knight, with a sword, can make a man a corpse. So... I kind of forgot where I was going there."


  1. Yup, that's Alexander Hamilton.
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