<< Back to Normal View
2, Issue 2
November 15, 1999
will be a name very familiar to regular readers of loonygames,
well, it should be! Apart from doing the cover for issue
1.29, Illiad's ISP-inspired kinda-sitcom-stype comic series,
User Friendly, has
been featured inside the hallowed pages of loonygames every
day since issue 1.12!
first things first. Illiad? What sort of name is that? It certainly
had me pondering that question for a long time - was it his
real name? If not, what does it mean? How is it pronounced?
Was it Egyptian maybe? Can it be used to hurt people? The truth
behind the name is actually related to one of Illiad's personal
interests - poetry - and stems from one of his favorite poems;
Homer's epic, The Iliad.
I guess if I had known something about poetry then the name
wouldn't have been quite so enigmatic, but the additional 'l'
really threw me off the track! (And who'd have guessed that,
as well as working in the atomic power industry, Homer was also
a poet? Not I!)
know that it's not his real name now, but the name, Illiad (pronounced;
ILL-EE-ADD), is mentioned everywhere, including on his new book
(discussed below) with no mention ever of his real name. So
what is his real name? Well (I feel a bit like Shaggy at the
end of an episode of Scooby Doo, just about to tear off the
mask and reveal the true identity of this weeks baddie!), Illiad's
real name is J.D. Frazer!
initials! There's still some mystery after all!
of whether you want to call him Illiad or J.D., history will
record him as the creator of the incredibly popular comic strip,
User Friendly, a project that started innocently enough, with
Illiad drawing a few of his work mates, but it was quickly to
become a success that even now is still growing, with plenty
of fans in high places. "Eric S. Raymond? Jerry Pournelle?
John Carmack? There are others, take your pick!"
Editor loonyboi, is also a huge fan of User Friendly and its
little group of strange inhabitants. I asked him why he approached
Illiad about running UF daily on loonygames. "Because the
strip rules. If Dilbert were remotely funny, it still wouldn't
be half as entertaining as User Friendly." Actually, the
Dilbert reference also comes up in Amazon.com's glowing review
of the book:
Friendly is to the open-source world what Dilbert is to swarming
hives of Windows cubicles." [Amazon.com]
has a seriously wide-ranging background, seemingly happy to
give anything a bit of a go. Take his university career for
example. "A year of criminology, two years of geology/planet
science, and about two years of classical studies and literature.
Never graduated." If nothing else, he could probably write
a really interesting book about industrial companies that illegally
dump toxins into the atmosphere (!).
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
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."
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."
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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."
we couldn't finish this off article without finding out who (or
what) Illiad's favorite UF character is?
He's a freak."
Rowan "Sumaleth" Crawford is loonygames' Supervising
<<Back to Normal View
- the best damn gaming magazine online
Credits: Print CGI is
© 2000 Square Eight. Used with permission.
Article is © 2000 its original author. All other content is © 2000
loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. You got that??