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About GU Comics ( Last Updated: October 10th, 2008 )
[ About | History | Characters | Process | Woody's Bio | Interviews | Contraversy ]

GU Comics is a single panel webcomic written, drawn, and colored by Woody Hearn. Established July 10, 2000 and launched August 15, 2000. The comic focusses primarily on nerd culture, but tends to lean toward the gaming industry; but, it also comments on popular culture and community news, often lampoons gamers in general through the adventures of Woody and his fictional roommate, Ted, and occasionally parodies contemporary social, political, and personal issues related to the online and general video game world. Driven as it is by the ever changing dynamic of nerd culture, continuity of the story line is not important, though it does have a few recurring themes.
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History
GU Comics was first released to a small group of friends on July 10th, 2000. Then known as "/gu ...", the original comics were set inside the MMOG fantasy world of Everquest, centered around the in-game antics of the artist and members of his guild (Purifying Light on Vallon Zek), and borrowed heavily from Scott Kurtz's "Ding" for layout and single panel delivery. Intended only as a hobby, the comic's link was passed around to various Everquest related community sites (Evercrest.Com being chief among them). On July 25 2000, GU was contacted by the GameFan/Game Answer Network with an offer of affiliation and a proposal to go "live". Now hosted on the GameFan/Game Answer Network, GU was released for wide public consumption August 15th, 2000. The response was swift and significant. Since its inception GU has been forced to change hosts for various reasons. February 4, 2003, GU moved to hosting by the Safehouse and in August of 2008, at the request of the Safehouse, took over control of the GU server .

On February 5th, 2003, signifying the move to the Safehouse and a shift in interest to the wider gaming world rather than focussing specifically on Everquest, the slash and ellipses were officially dropped from the GU logo. On April 9th, 2007 the format of the comic was shifted from 300x465 to 600x450. Along with the format shift the logo, and comic type sub- text was removed from the strip.

Beginning March 17th, 2008 panels were still hand drawn, but were being inked digitally. As of April 3rd, 2008 GU Comics has moved to full digital production eliminating the paper waste associated with sketching and inking the comics on card stock.

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Characters
GU is not a long-term storyline-based comic, instead featuring single, stand-alone comics or short, three-to-four-comic storylines. However, there are several characters that do make frequent appearances in the comic. These characters include:

Woody - a fictionalized version of Woody Hearn himself, almost always drawn with his characteristic orange ballcap. (introduced: September 1, 2000)

Ted Prescott - The fictional roommate of Woody who has often been described as Woody's id given form. He is notorious for his obsession with all things game-related, as well as his conflicts with a sleep-deprivation-created hallucinatory monkey that he swears is real. (introduced: September 1, 2000)

The Zapper - While not a character in the traditional sense, the Zapper is the central figure in a series of comics which feature failed games and even entire development companies, flying into a giant bug zapper in the form of insects. (introduced: August 31, 2004)

Iggy McStickson - The stick figure character which replaces a standard comic in times of technical difficulty, sickness, or other such problems. (introduced: October 1, 2000)


Supporting Characters
Vhah - Barbarian Warrior (EQ) >, Toast - Troll Warrior (DAoC) >, Grektholar "Grek" - Orc Warrior (WoW) >, Brad - Ted's Boss >, The Vision - Brad McQuaid's idealistic vision of game design >, The Gamer Girls (unnamed) - The female perspective >, The Flies - represent troubled games >, Monkey - product of Ted's sleep deprived imagination >
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[ Dates given for Secondary Characters are not the dates they were introduced. ]
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Process
GU is sketched, inked and colored digitally in Adobe Photoshop using a Wacom Cintiq 21UX. The initial file setup is 2400x1600 pixels at 300 dpi. The comic is then resized to internet resolution (72 dpi), where backgrounds, text, lighting and copyright info are added. Once the comic is published, a writeup, citing relevant news sources when needed, is associated with the comic and linked from the front page and archives.

The direction of the art in the comic has changed constantly throughout GU's history. Earlier strips were intentionally simplified and used a 2-color gradient as the background. The current work is a mix of complex detail, colored in a hard edge anime style, offset by a cartoon-like exaggeration of proportion and anatomy. The characters and text are set upon highly distorted backgrounds relevant to the theme of the comic, and use soft, but intense, light sources that serve as a counterpoint to the hard-edged coloring style. Text bubbles and font choices have remained relatively unchanged since GU's inception. GU primarily uses fonts licensed from Blambot.
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Bio
Woody Hearn is a 31 year veteran of professional illustration, design and production artwork. His current endeavor is the game-related comic site GU. Born of the MMOG community, GU has, of late, branched out to address more of the gaming world.

Woody attended John S. Davidson School of Fine Arts, a school nationally acclaimed for both it's Academic and Fine Art excellence; and, received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Valdosta State University, with emphases on Graphic Design and Illustration.

Woody's artwork has become part of part of well over 300 small/private art collections, including that of both his alma maters John S. Davidson and Valdosta State University. He's even managed to get stuff displayed in several museums around the southincluding the High Museum in Atlanta . His work as a scenic artist can be seen in the independent film 'Ripe' by Mo Ogradnik (he makes no excuses for the movie's quality, watch at your own risk). Some of his comics and illustration work can be seen in the documentary film 'Avatar's Offline' by Daniel Liatowisch. Woody has won awards for both illustration and scenic design. He's received attention for banner design in the book 'Just a Click Away: Advertising on the Internet' by Dr. Barbara Kaye and Dr. Norman Medoff. And, a few of his comics have been published in Computer Gaming Monthly and Der SpieleKurier
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Interviews
Internet
"Kwill's Interview with Woody Hearn of GU Comics" - [ read ]
Site: Planet EQ | Interviewer: Kwill Heartfire | Submitted: November 12th, 2002

"Woody Hearn Interview" - [ read ]
Site: The Safehouse | Interviewer: Mease the Mad | Submitted: April 20th, 2003

"WOODY of GU Comics, A Man of Many Loves - an Exclusive Interview" - [ read ]
Site: TenTonHammer | Issue: The Vanguardian #3 | Interviewer: Raya | Submitted: December 29th, 2005

"A little bit of insanity five days a week" - [ read ]
Site: Tux & Bunny | Interviewer: Shadowydreamer | Submitted: July 16th, 2007

"GU Comics - Woody Hearn" - [ read ]
Site: Sequential Tart | Interviewer: Leesa Hanagan | Submitted: January 14th, 2008

Film
"Avatar's Offline" - [ more info ]
Documentary Film | Interviewer/Director: Daniel Liatowitsch | Release: March 24th, 2002
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Controversy
Everquest Boycott
In May 2004, GU Comics became the center of attention when Woody Hearn posted a comic satirizing the Omens of War expansion for Everquest. In the attendant forum writeup, he called for a boycott by EverQuest players against the Omens of War expansion in an effort to force Sony Online Entertainment, who produces EverQuest, to correct the numerous issues players had with the game rather than release another expansion so quickly on the heels of the previous one. The call to boycott was rescinded after SOE held a summit to address player concerns, improve (internal and external) communication, and begin correcting issues within the game.

References:
Silky Venom "Everquest -> Controversies and social issues
IGN "EverQuest: Omens of War Review
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Florida Lawyer
Woody has come to blows several times with a certain, unnamed Florida Lawyer that made a name for himself as an anti-video-game activist, accusing video games of inspiring violence in children. Woody often offhandedly dismissed the attorney as "crazy". Said lawyer then threatened legal action for defamation. Though the claim was not actionable Woody did stop referring to him by name in the Comic though this had more to do with not wanting to give him any more visibility/press. Said lawyer has since been disbarred for inappropriate conduct and making false statements.
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Civil Suit
In 2007 Woody's then life parner, known in the comics as "Taks", plead guilty to embezelling funds from her employer. No criminal charges were ever filed against Woody, but the employer did file a Civil Suit claiming Woody and GU benefitted from Taks' theft. After providing proof of all income, gifts, travel, etc. it was clear that he had not illegally benefitted from her actions/theft, had not known she was stealing from the company, and demonstrated financially that he did not need any of the money she had taken.

In mediation, Woody requested proof of her wrong doing (stupidly believing Taks' lies that the company was framing her to cover their own mishandling of funds). As soon as proof was provided however, he requested a list of everything Taks was accused of using the embezzeled funds for and voluntarily paid half of anything he felt he might have unknowingly benefitted from no matter how remotely associated with it he might have been.
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GU Commissions
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