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Webcomic / User Friendly

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The tao of Pitr.
With its tagline of "Impairing productivity since 1997", J.D. "Illiad" Frazer's User Friendly covers the antics of the staff at a small ISP and frequently brings current events in the IT field into its strips.

Similar to Ctrl+Alt+Del and PvP, it has become a bit infamous for its creator, who is very outspoken on several topics about both webcomics and the computer industry. Much of it comes from perceived laziness, since the strip very often does cop out when it comes to fresh content. This came to a head in 2009 when it was found that Illiad had plagiarized several MetaFilter users by using their comments as punchlines for the strip, for which he apologized and the offending strips modified to credit the original sources.

O'Reilly Media and Manning Publications have published compilations of the strip in dead-tree form. For various reasons, the comic was in reruns from late 2009, and and the end of February 2022, the site closed down entirely.


This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Acquainted in Real Life: At one point AJ plays an online game and gets mugged repeatedly by a female player character called "Lady Shady". He talks to her a bit but often ends up just getting mugged. Later he sees Miranda at the water jug and asks her how things have been, and she cheerfully tells him about this new game she's playing and how she'd stripped some twerp of all his possessions "courtesy of The Lady Shady".
  • Affectionate Parody: Gentler than most — it chides nerddom and programmers now and then when they become too obsessive or Slashdot is in uproar over something trivial.
  • Anthropomorphic Vice: A giant talking cola occasionally shows up, possibly just as a hallucination, and seeks to corrupt someone. Caffeine is after all a stock geek vice, especially in the form of cola.
  • Advertisement:
  • April Fools' Day: An infamous prank involved teasing that an unnamed big company, implied to be Microsoft given the strip's staunch anti-MS, pro-Linux stance, had been threatening the site before temporarily pulling it down entirely, leading to outcry among Linux communities before it was revealed as a joke... which itself led to more outcry as people had seriously thought the site was being threatened. A more detailed story can be found here. Some future April 1st strips would make reference to this incident in some fashion, primarily thru Self-Deprecation.
  • Art Evolution: Surprisingly averted, whether intentionally or not. Rather sadly, there was very little change in Illiad's art style from his very beginning strips to the last — in almost 13 years his artistic style remained very ... rough. The fact many comics are clearly re-using character art adds to this effect.
  • Author Avatar: Illiad's paper-bag-over-head character, though he rarely interacts with the day-to-day plotlines.
  • Benevolent Boss: The Chief, though he's a little more world-weary and underhanded than others.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: AJ, for good reason.
  • Caffeine Bullet Time: Greg after he tries some Pitr Cola after Pitr forces Pepsi and Coca Cola to merge under his own brand; the recipe is literally just caffeine.
    Mike: When did YOU learn how to code?!
    Greg: TODAY!
  • Casanova Wannabe: Stef, so very much He has a thing for butter, llamas and Miranda. In that order.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The later story lines feature Sid getting cancer and A.J. joining the army and being sent to Afghanistan.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After Pitr leaks shower photos of her to the internet via the Hubble telescope, Miranda gets her revenge by tying him up and deleting random clusters from his code library backup discs, one for each email address he spammed.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Erwin the A.I.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Several of the main cast, and with Cthulhu himself even! He still maintains his malevolence.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Kuan. See Speak of the Devil, below.
  • Due to the Dead: Certain celebrities beloved by the author have received memorial Sunday strips. Chuck Jones, E. Gary Gygax, Mary Travers... Major Tear Jerker territory.
  • Inhuman Resources: The Smiling Man.
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Or in this case, Dust Puppy.
  • Filk Song: Illiad occasionally uses the Sunday side story for these. E.g. "My Blog", to the tune of "Lump".
  • Karma Houdini: Pitr sexually harassed Miranda (passing off shower photos as space pics), and Sid murdered an intern by proxy. They both still work at Columbia Internet (though Miranda managed to get revenge in the former instance).
  • Lzherusskie: Pitr, because the book he read said evil geniuses are supposed to have a stereotypically villainous accent.
  • Misery Builds Character: Sid claims that obsessive addiction to NetHack is a good thing because it helps build character.
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter: Referenced in this strip.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Manifests in many forms, including a Kool-Aid Man parody that haunts Greg with bizarre "you need caffeine" strawman arguments.
  • Nerd/Geek: Nerds and geeks, meet A.J. He is now your leader. So stereotypically nerdy, he inspired the creation of Sex Tips for Geeks.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Miranda.
  • Old Master: Sid.
  • Parodies for Dummies: How Pitr started on the path of evil genius-hood.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Team Pet Dust Puppy.
  • Serial Escalation: Stef's suckitude at Quake. So much suckitude that he dies on the intro screen to Quake III: Arena. He is nicknamed "Lava Boy" because he always falls into the lava in games. Even in games such as Neverwinter Nights in which it is impossible to do so.
  • Speak of the Devil: Hastur. Yes, Hastur. Yes, that — oh no you don't! Too late. I was in the next room.
  • Team Pet: Dust Puppy, an innocent, adorable ball of fluff with feet and big eyes who happens to be a God at Quake.
  • Unsound Effect: code code justify code.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • A Very Special Week reminding us about Remembrance Day and how it's not just about World War I and II's dead any more. In this and the next five strips, no-one's laughing, least of all Sid. Another story line deals with getting cancer. A later story has A.J. joining the army, and being sent to Afghanistan where he is wounded in action.
    • Much earlier, following the September 11th attacks, the techs pulled out of their remote office in an old missile silo. "After the last few days, living in a missile silo just isn't cool anymore."