Webcomic / Arthur, King of Time and Space
Arthur, King of Time and Space
is a humour webcomic
by Paul Gadzikowski. It retells the story of King Arthur
, in real time (with occasional timeskips) in several time periods. It ran from 2004 to 2014.
When Arthur took the sword from the stone, history itself was altered. Now Arthur exists in several realities simultaneously. The main arcs are the "baseline" or "fairytale" arc (Anachronism Stew
5th century, based closely on Malory and T.H. White
); the "space" arc (A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away...
, with Arthur as king of British Space, and Excalibur
as his Cool Ship
); and the "modern" arc (in which Arthur started as an Ordinary High-School Student
, before learning he had inherited a controlling share in Excalicorp).
The main storyline in all three main settings is the Love Triangle
between Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot. Secondary arcs include the "Western
" arc (Arthur as sheriff), the "Mash
" arc (Arthur as Hawkeye Pierce), the movie parody
arc (Arthur as various film characters) and others.
Was on sabbatical for six months in 2009, and replaced with Arthur King of Time and Space 2.0
. This returns to Gadzikowski's earlier King Arthur In Time And Space
concept, in which the comic is crossover fanfiction between two fictional TV series, one about the space-faring Arthur (and very similar to Star Trek
) and one about the time-travelling Merlin (and very similar to Doctor Who
). A second sabbatical began in June 2011, with the strip being replaced by sketches and concluded in December, the strip resuming after a Time Skip
to Arthur being 35.
The strip ended on 6 January 2014, owing to real life pressures, after one last timeskip to wrap up the storylines.
Became the Trope Namer
for Panicky Expectant Father
after the News Post
pointed out we didn't have it.
It can be found here
Arthur, King of Time and Space provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Guenevere and Tristram in the space arc.
- Actually, That's My Assistant: In the space arc, the first time Guinevere meets Arthur and Lancelot, she assumes Lancelot is the king.
- Anachronism Stew: Impossible to avoid in the fairytale arc due to Grandfather Clause.
- Animated Actors: In the plain background no-fourth-wall strips the characters are aware of their status as both in a webcomic and as public domain figures, often using this to point out the plot holes and getting called away to star in another comic. Since the background is green, these are called the green room.
- Art Evolution: In 2012, after considering using the triangle format permenantly, Paul developed a lineless version of the regular art style.
- In-universe, Arthur's Shapes goes from "all characters are different shapes" to "all characters are circles" to "all characters are triangles, just like The Hero of Three Faces".
- Author Catch Phrase: "Can't beat the classics."
- Bait and Switch: The strip for July 31 2005 spends five panels very obviously setting up the punchline to a well-known hoary old joke — and then turns out to actually be a different well-known hoary old joke.
- Betty and Veronica: Guenevere and Morgan early in the space arc.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: Fairies and Olympians can see ultraviolet.
- Book Ends: The first and last strips both have Arthur's situation being explained to him by magic users in four time periods simultaneously; the baseline, space, and western arcs, and a fourth arc where what they're saying is Lost in Transmission.
- except that in the last strip, the last panel is a straight transliteration of English letters into their nearest Greek equivalents of a three word sentence which should be very familiar to readers of this strip, i.e. "Thanks for reading".
- Born Lucky: Lancelot has God's favor, and as a consequence will inevitably win any contest he enters. This extends not only to contests of skill, but to games of chance — Western arc Lancelot does very well at cards — and even bets on events that no human being could influence: Arthur once cured his sea-sickness by betting him he'd be stuck with it for the rest of the voyage.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Merlin outlining his radical politics: "Everyone deserves self-determination. Even the commons. Even women. Even common women!"
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Many, many examples, usually indicated by characters being against the blank website background; literally "outside" the regular strip. (A brief sequence in the Lancelot-goes-mad-and-ends-up-at-Carbonek storyline had the court of Carbonek breaking the fourth wall "in continuity".)
- And again at Carbonek when Percivale, Galahad, and Bors visit. King Pelles starts talking about the cultural (and pop cultural) influence of the Grail Quest stories down the centuries, leaving Bors to remark, "I'd forgotten how free with the fourth wall it can get at Castle Carbonek."
- Can't Get In Trouble For Nuthin': In the superhero arc, Kingman gets arrested by Homeland Security. Unfortunately, the legal system is so uncomfortable about actually putting The Cape on trial that he never actually gets to challenge the law itself, which was the goal.
- Capital Letters Are Magic: When Elaine describes the Holy Grail, Morgan asks how she talks so the capital letters on "Holy Grail", "Our Lord", "Last Supper" and so on are audible. Elaine replies "It's a Gift."
- Cattle Punk: The Western arc
- Cloning Blues: The False Guenevere in the space arc.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Arthur wears yellow, Guinevere wears blue, Lancelot wears red, Merlin wears orange, Nimue wears purple, and Morgan wears green, Tristran wears pink, Pellinore wears indigo. The same goes for the family of each (extended family in the case of Morgan; the Orkneys all wear various shades of green sorted by their loyalties). Oh, and Mordred and Galahad are black and white respectively.
- Comic-Book Time: Sort of inverted; the characters have aged during the Time Skips, but the contemporary arc is still contemporary, meaning, for example, that Merlin's meetings with Barack Obama were first shifted to Arthur, and now presumably didn't happen at all, since the President is the right-wing Lucius Roman.
- Cool Old Guy: Merlin in any incarnation but primarily the modern day arc, where he's a substitute teacher who owns a comic book store, has an eidetic knowledge for his favorite TV shows, used to be a hippie, agrees to watch watch Ector's sons on a moment's notice when he's called to active duty, and takes in the orphaned child of some old friends. A close second is the space arc Merlin, who's basically the Doctor.
- Cool Ship: The Excalibur in the space arc
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Morgause in the modern arc has elements of this trope (though downplayed; she may cut corners, but only because of her duty to stockholders who depend on investments for retirement, and she's not proud of it). Arthur himself is an inversion (somewhat anviliciously so).
- Distant Finale: Essentially, the last week of strips, which jumps forward to the end of the story in order to wrap everything up.
- Evil Twin: The False Guenevere/Fasha.
- Expy: Everyone in the space arc, mostly because the space arc itself is based on Gadzikowski's earlier fanfics, where mythological figures stood in for characters from popular TV shows.
- The crew of the Excalibur stand in for the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series: Arthur is Kirk, Lancelot is Spock, Guinevere is Bones, Gawain is Scotty, etc.
- Merlin is the Doctor from Doctor Who, with Morgan and Nimue acting as his companions.
- Hercules is Superman (with Iolaus as Jimmy Olsen, Megara as Lois), the heroes of Troy are the cast of M*A*S*H, etc.
- The Fair Folk: Morgan's faerie allies in the baseline and space arcs.
- Faux Symbolism: Sometimes strips seem to be written specifically to critique modern politics, such as the strips dealing with Arthur's interactions with Rome or the Saracens. Usually this prompts Gadzikowski to step in and say that it's from the source material and the appropriateness to modern times is totally incident.
- Feudal Future: The space arc is just the fairytale arc's nonspecific-but-generically-medieval time period updated into space.
- Foreshadowing: In one contemporary arc strip when Arthur is still in high school, there's a discussion as to whether a "an ancient warlord [who] lived today instead of a thousand years ago" would become a politician or run a corporation. Contemporary Arthur goes on to become both.
- Every mention of Excalicorp before Contemporary Arthur learns his destiny.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: The finale of the space arc was compressed into a single-panel summary due to real-life pressures, but was later told in more detail in an instalment of The Hero of Three Faces.
- Gender Flip: Various knights become Dames in the space arc, most notably Tristam, who was also Gender Flipped in the modern arc.
- Happy Harlequin Hat: Dagonet wears one in the colours of the Pendragon coat of arms.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Averted with Lancelot. Although he's very devout in the modern day arc, and feels a bit squeamish about Tristran's sexuality, he comes to accept it because she's his friend.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Arthur and Lancelot. Lancelot thought he and Galehaut were this.
- In the final few strips it turned out Lancelot was wrong about Arthur as well, who is biromantic if not bisexual.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Guinevere!
- Idiot Hero: Sir Balin. His every heroic gesture turns into a total disaster. When Arthur learns that Balin is dead, he asks if he's a bad person for being relieved.
- Ignoring by Singing: A running gag in early strips was Arthur doing this every time Merlin started predicting things he didn't want to hear.
- Incurable Cough of Death: The False Guenevere's sickness in the space and baseline arcs. In the space arc it's clone deterioration, in the baseline it's punishment from God, and in both it's exacerbated by her use of magic to keep Arthur on her side.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: "Well, duh. He's Galahad."
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Two weeks of non-canon crossovers with other webcomics:
- It Was His Sled: In-Universe example. Nimue spoils Citizen Kane for Guenevere in Arthur's webcomic by invoking this trope. Almost by name, even!
- Laser Blade: In the space arc.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: No one's really hiding how the baseline arc is going to end. As they themselves have said, the story's over 500 years old, so the expiration date on those spoilers have passed.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Lampshaded here.
- Lost in Transmission: In the very first strip, when Merlin is explaining the premise.
- Love Dodecahedron
- Mad Scientist: Morgan in the Western and Space arcs and Elaine of Carbonek in the Western arc. (In the Space and Baseline arcs Elaine is a "Mad Theologian". In the contemporary arc she's only a character in Arthur's own webcomic.)
- Mega Corp.: Excalicorp in the contemporary arc. The strip doesn't directly state how big it is, but if you pay attention you'll notice that everything from computers to cars has a sword-in-the-stone logo.
- Missed Him by That Much: At one point, Lancelot and Galehaut do this for several strips.
- Nice Guy: Arthur, definitely.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Arthur's webcomic gets picked up by "Jose Macho" of "Today Fables" (Joey Manley of Modern Tales), with a Lampshade in The Rant. A few strips later, Morgan gets a starring role in a Clive Craven film.
- No-Paper Future: The space arc
- Not a Morning Person: Arthur, who couldn't stay awake for his son's birth in the contemporary arc, and once spent a battle with Space Pirates in the space arc muttering "I don't want to get up." Also Morgause, by contrast with her son Gawaine.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with the Elaines; Isolde and Isuelt are given different spellings
- Only the Chosen May Wield: the Sword in the Stone
- Also, holy relics may only be used by devout Christians. In the case of the Grail, the definition of "devout" seems to be restrictive enough that it basically just means Galahad.
- OT3: Arthur/Guenevere/Lancelot, in Flash Forward strips in the Space Arc. Mentioned and ship teased several times in various other contexts as well.
- Our Fairies Are Different: The fey Morgan works with are Effex, a ball of fur with legs, and Aihok, a small, white, blobby humanoid. In the contemporary arc they're fictional aliens: the main characters in Merlin's (now Nimue's) webcomic (and have crossed over to Arthur's).
- Our Presidents Are Different: In the contemporary arc storyline, Lucius Roman is President Scheming. Arthur is a combination of President Personable, President Iron and President Geek.
- Percussive Maintenance: Guenevere does this to an alien device (the frame after Arthur says "we'd better tread softly, people") in the space arc.
- Parody Magic Spell: The Language of Magic is English written with Greek letters. If you go to the trouble of translating them, the spells are famous quotes, often from children's literature (the chant to get more power for the Excalibur's engines is "I know I can, I know I can...")
- Perspective Reversal: There's a space-arc strip that starts with Lancelot claiming that God made the universe to be perfect as it is, and Guenevere countering that change is good, because it's how things progress. Arthur tells Merlin he wishes they could see things from each others' perspective. The next panel has Lancelot saying that if a certain species is dying it's God's will, and Guenevere responding that on the contrary, things have to be preserved.
- Portal Door: Merlin's time machine appears as a heavy wooden door in the nearest available wall.
Mordred: Sire, the other side of that wall is the exterior hull of the ship and open space. Where did that door lead to?
- Power Trio: Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot
- Put on a Bus: Ector in the contemporary arc. In the other arcs he just disappears from the story once Arthur becomes king, as he does in the legends. But the contemporary arc needed an explanation for writing out a fifteen-year-old's legal guardian, so sent him to Iraq.
- Rebellious Princess: Guenevere
- Reluctant Ruler: Arthur's reaction to being told he's the son of Uther Pendragon and rightwise king of all British Space is "Must I?"
- Retcon: In the modern arc, Lancelot used to be Lancelot Benwick, following the pattern that knights who were "of" somewhere in the baseline arc had that as a surname in the modern setting. More recently his surname is Du Lac (because, c'mon, he's Lancelot Du Lac) and Benwick is his home town. More obviously, Bedivere suddenly stopped being female in the space and modern arcs, in order to have a male gay couple. (This has since been further retconned; Bedivere's male, but the earlier strips in which he appeared female are still canon.)
- Paul Gadzikowski's attitude to continuity is probably summed up here.
- Reused Character Design: Several character designs are recycled from Gadzikowski's earlier fanfiction comics. Arthur is Kirk with a beard and without a toupee, Lancelot is Spock as a human, and Guinevere's father is McCoy. Merlin is the First Doctor with a Wizard Beard. Galahad is Superman. The irreverend Sir Dinadan is based on Hawkeye Pierce.
- Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: A Flash Forward strip in the contemporary arc has Mordred showing Arthur stills from Star Trek XXIX.
- Role Called
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Shameless Fanservice Girl: Modern!Guenevere, in a rare "realistic display of nudism" and not "heh, nekkid girl" example. She knows about the nudity taboo but genuinely doesn't share it. In an early strip she tries to explain this to modern!Arthur in matter of fact terms, but he doesn't believe her — leading the "camera" to pan over to her computer to show that yes, she was actually using the computer in the nude.
- The Sheriff: Arthur in the Western arc.
- Many of the secondary characters are based on other comic characters, most notably Elaine of Carbonek, who is Helen Narbon.
- A group of Roman diplomats are based on the actors who've portrayed the Doctor).
- Merlin's spells are often lines from classic children's literature in Wingdinglish.
- His insane babble when trapped in the crystal cave resembles that of Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective".
- In one strip Space!Arthur asks Merlin if there's any other groups of people going through the whole "same adventures in different time periods" thing. Behind them Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock is demonstrating the Sherlock Scan to Edward Hardwicke's Watson.
- In one of Arthur's press conferences, three unseen journalists are named Clark, Peter, and April. And the account of his first meeting with Clark is a Call-Back to the Webcomic Hurricane Relief Telethon, where he is indeed that Clark.
- In this strip, Elaine's line about "grey. Pinkish grey" is interesting, because while it's totally appropriate for a character based on Helen Narbon, it's also a quote from the Fifth Doctor in "Castrovalva".
- Excalicorp apparently have a patented process that ensures the snow will never slush upon on the hillside.
- Homer drawn in the outfit of Homer Simpson.
- Another reference to Helen Narbon is Sir Nabon de Noir, who looks like Male!Helen, and whose crest is a heart.
- Galahad looks like Superman. Hercules is Superman. (Merlin's time-travel friends are particularly prone to this.)
- Sinbad is Popeye.
- Cinderella is Faye from Questionable Content.
- King Bran's return in the space arc is a Whole Plot Reference to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed".
- Many to Peanuts, since Paul is very influenced by Charles Schulz:
- Show Within a Show: Both Arthur and Merlin create their own webcomics in the modern arc.
- Signature Line: "The problems in this world are not caused by those who love. They're caused by those who hate." Not used often enough to be a Catch-Phrase, but the line that sums up Arthur's philosophy.
- Sir Verba Lot: Invoked:
Lancelot: My mother wanted me to join the priesthood.
Arthur: Then she ought to have named you Praysalot.
- Space Opera: The Space Arc
- Speculative Fiction LGBT: The adapting to create gay couples in the sci-fantasy landscape.
- Stalker with a Test Tube: Elaine
- Strawman Political: Gadzikowski seems to have made a concerted effort to defy this. Most characters who express political views are given a chance to make reasonable arguments for their positions, even if they're not portrayed as "right". When not having political arguments, many characters with opposing views (Lancelot/Guinevere, Merlin/Morgause) are on good terms and bond over shared interests.
- Take Off Your Clothes: This strip.
- Also a brief arc in the modern timeline, where Guenevere and her family are nudists. Arthur, Lancelot, and Tristram visit Guenevere while on vacation, and Gwen invites them to nude it up. Guenevere snaps at Lancelot for trying to apologize when he doesn't feel comfortable taking off his trunks-she's too open-minded to brook any notion of feeling bad about your own comfort level.
- Talking the Monster to Death: When Morgana summons a demon to keep the heroes occupied, Arthur talks about how he's free to think for himself and that there are alternatives to violence and mayhem. Everyone is surprised when this works.
- Teacher/Student Romance This is the backstory to Merlin and Morgan in the contemporary arc, as described here. And when Morgan becomes a teacher at the school herself, Arthur is attracted to her, but it's not mutual. (Merlin and Morgan may or may not also have had a relationship in the space arc [where she was his apprentice], but that's kind of expected, and its own trope)
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: Everyone, including the readers, assumed modern!Tristram was male.
- This had less to do with this trope and more to do with some of the conversations they had about a girl (modern!Isolde); Tristram's chivalrous talk led the others to think "male" instead of "lesbian".
- There Was a Door: After Lancelot and Guinevere get into an argument, she tells him to go away immediately. He then hops out a window, causing her to say, "I didn't mean you couldn't use the door!"
- Time Skip: Although the sabbatical didn't actually last two and a half years, as intended, it still picks up the story two and a half years later. The second sabbatical lasted till December 2011, picked up the story nine years later, and was preceded by a one year timeskip to wrap up some plot threads.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Arthur and cheese, Guenevere and chocolate, Gawaine and alcohol.
- Universal-Adaptor Cast: The major figures of the Arthurian mythos get transplanted into quite a few time periods and as Expys of various fictional works, without the general story changing terribly much.
- The Western: The Western arc
- Wham Episode: The last strip before it went on sabbatical. The last week of strips before the second sabbatical. Strip 2904 certainly seemed to be one for Lancelot. (The triangle art may make it a little confusing at first for readers, and reduce the impact.)
- World of Pun: The strip as a whole, but Arthur in particular. Lampshaded here.
- Worst Whatever Ever: When Merlin is visiting Space Arc Ancient Greece (which is similar to 20th century America).