Webcomic / 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. Packs later joins the occasional band, but never with the typical synth shenanigans.
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. After pretty much exactly ten years, The Packrat
was concluded and came to an end in February 2015.
This comic provides examples of:
- Agony of the Feet: In August 2005◊, a Yamaha CS80 fell onto Packrat's feet.note
- All Just a Dream: In the 2013 Kiwitechnics promo◊, Marty McFly (actually Packrat) discovers a modified Roland Juno-106 in Doc Brown's lab. The latter tells him that he had taken it to the future and upgraded in ways downright imaginable in 1985. Turns out that this is what Marty actually dreamed when he was out cold in Lorraine's bed in 1955.
- Anachronism Stew: Played for Laughs at Packrat's encounter with Hugh LeCaine, inventor of the Electronic Sackbut, who builds a number of Electronic Sackbut rack expanders long before there were rack synthesizers in order to help Packs to proceed into the future (May 2011◊).
- Bold Inflation: In March 2014◊, Packrat predicts that the prices of vintage synthesizers will eventually approach infinity.
- Brand X: Averted; every single brand name is real, although they're mostly reduced to manufacturers and models of electronic musical instruments. There are occasional fantasy model names for instruments, but never brand names that remind you of real ones.
- The Cameo:
- During his time travel, Packrat meets a whole line of famous persons from along the history of synthesizers whom he asks (that is, he sometimes doesn't) to help him get back to his present.
- Also, several YouTube "celebrities" appear in the November 2010 strip◊.
- Christmas Episode: December 2005◊. Complete with a blinking Buchla serving as the Christmas tree.
- Collector of the Strange: There are synthesizer collectors in real life, but Packs takes this to ludicrous extremes. Then again, he actually parodies synth collectors.
- 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.
- The alleged Elka Synthex seller from February 2014◊ from whom Packs decides to pick the synth up personally to not get scammed.
- Exposed Animal Bellybutton: Also because most characters have very short legs.
- 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).
- 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.
- Humanlike Foot Anatomy
- Hurricane of Puns: Packrat wandering on the "Signal Path" in July 2012◊.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Packrat invents a new style of keytar, the Tiki-Tar◊. He has to be drunk on Mai-Tais to come up with that idea and name.
- Meaningful Name: Packrat himself.
- Monochrome Past: Packrat's time in 1939.
- Read the Freaking Manual: Packrat doesn't, at least not in September 2012◊ after acquiring a particularly complicated synth.
- San Dimas Time: While traveling through the history of synthesizers, Packrat is absent from his own time for a whole year.
- 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.
- Theremin: Packrat encounters The Beach Boys with one during his time travel in 1968 September 2011◊. He peruses its oscillator to jump to 1969.
- 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.