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Vol. 2, Issue 2 
November 15, 1999 

 

His work history reads the same way; Game designer. Writer. Editor. Corrections officer. Graphic artist. Web guy. Production manager for some press publications. Art Director for travel magazine. Project manager. Hang on, did I read Corrections Officer? On the subject of that job, he says, "I was using it as a 'see if I like law enforcement' stepping-stone to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police".

When asked further about his work as a game designer; "I was on staff as a designer/developer for Columbia Games, a paper RPG and war game company. I've written for a fair amount for other tabletop game companies as a freelancer. Titles and lines I've worked on include Harn, Wyrm's Lair and Cyberpunk 2020. There is a pile of other titles I've written for as well."

UF was born while he was working as the creative guy at an ISP, so a lot of the humor comes from real-life experiences and stories. "All of my co-workers are funny...in one way or another."

click to enlarge!

Illiad on Quake III (43k).

It didn't take long for the decidedly geeky humor of User Friendly to capture the hearts of a receptive Internet audience, probably because we all see a little bit of ourselves, or someone we know, in the various UF characters.

In fact, User Friendly is Illiad's full time work now, a dream come true for any writer or artist, that recently culminated in the publishing of the first UF book. The book, titled, User Friendly - The Comic Strip, collects together the first year's worth of strips. Published by O'Reilly & Associates, the book has been selling like proverbial hotcakes through places like Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1565926730/userfriendltheco/002-3326990-4834620), Borders, Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, etc. And he still publishes one comic per day on the US web site (http://www.userfriendly.org), although his creation timetable is a little more erratic. "Sometimes I do five in a day, sometimes I do none. I usually do in between that."

In the early days UF was drawn with a ballpoint pen onto photocopy paper and then he moved onto pencil and inking pens on illustration board. The next step was to a Wacom graphics tablet and UF has been completely digital ever since.

click to enlarge!

Yes, it's true - Pitr's a mug (20k).

"In the case of the [loonygames] cover I spent about 90% of the time thinking about what I wanted to put on the digital canvas. I just let my mind wander and something usually comes to me, although most of the time the results can be strange. Once that's done, I start with a rough of the image and then I do the real line work. When the line work is finished I apply color and depth and all that other stuff that real artists know about and I only begin to understand."

I asked Illiad what his relationship with art was - was it a necessary evil, required to get the joke across, or something he really enjoys; "I love art, but I have a long way to go as a visual artist. My real art is in my writing."

Outside of "work" (if you can call drawing cartoons 'work', Illiad has a number of (unsurprisingly varied) interests, including playing both computer and tabletop games (there's always another Quake reference just around the corner in the UF universe, and rumor has it that there may well be a UF reference in Quake III: Arena!), reading (science-fiction to historical to philosophical), writing (prose to poetry), long distance running and even rollerblading.

And what of the future? "I want to learn and get good at: horseback riding, scuba diving, and watercolor painting. I also want to write a few books and get them published - I'm not too far from the first one."

Anyway, we couldn't finish this off article without finding out who (or what) Illiad's favorite UF character is?

"A.J. He's a freak."

- Rowan "Sumaleth" Crawford is loonygames' Supervising Art Director.

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Credits: Cover illustration © 1999 Illiad. Under Cover is © 1999 Rowan Crawford. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.