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Breaking The Self-Imposed Moratorium On Featuring Goats, But There’s A Damn Good Reason

Not one, but two webcomickers are celebrating a significant anniversary, oh, now-ish.

Today marks 10 years of Help Desk (although not all online; it started in a now-defunct magazine); Christopher Wright sent a nice summary of what 10 years with Ubersoft have been like:

Over the years it has parodied Microsoft‘s incomprehensible release schedule, the Microsoft antitrust trial, the Y2K bug, unreasonably restrictive software licenses, online privacy and user tracking, identity theft, ridiculous software patents, software patent lawsuits, copyright infringement lawsuits, and the insidious communist plot to destabilize the free market with the PNG graphics format. It has taken broadsides at Microsoft, IBM, Apple, SCO, Iomega, Sun, Oracle, Diebold, the Federal Government, the RIAA, the MPAA, and even — on occasion — Richard Stallman.

The cartoonist would like to take this moment to thank the computer industry for its tireless efforts to keep him inundated with new material.

On behalf of the computer industry, you’re welcome.

And tomorrow marks 9 years of Goats; Jon Rosenberg didn’t send along a quote, but did note the event on his front page. In the meantime, let’s reflect on exactly how long 10 (or 9) years is … it’s a hell of a long time to continue any creative endeavor. And consider how long 9 (or 10) years is in internet time … that’s practically geological-scale time. Time enough to see an entire medium create itself, grow, develop, and devolve into family spats (no links; today’s a happy day). Goats may have been the first “two guys sitting around” webcomic, which makes it the Platonic Ideal of an entire genre. If you see Rosenberg on the street, thank him and buy him a beer. But don’t touch him; he’s not big on touching.

Since Goats has become increasingly story-driven, you’ll find a cheat sheet I wrote a while back behind the cut; it’ll get you caught up on nine years of fabulously twisted backstory. Someday, there may even be more links in there, but in the meantime, Goats features an easily-searched archive and character guide.

the very beginning
Once upon a time Jon and Phillip shared an apartment in Manhattan and a pair of barstools at the Peculier Pub. They both worked (vaguely) in the tech industry. Women (in general) and Lori the bartender (in particular) made Jon miserable. Phillip started a lot of wacky businesses. Diablo caused chaos for its own sake and got his head chopped off a lot. Toothgnip slept with lots of women thanks to some stylish underwear. The innocent Fish lived in beer. Neil and Bob enjoyed Dungeons and Hamsters, Jeopardy, and crispy fries. Against all odds, Jon met a nice girl named Megan and she became his girlfriend. Phillip scored big on one of his internet businesses, moved out, and later got married. Lori was killed by zombies, and replaced at the Pub by Stephanie and Siobhan. Life was pretty good. Then the Earth got destroyed. The End.

goats reboot
Remember when those aliens blew up the Earth? That sucked. Phillip met some Pedants, and Jon met Diablo’s “Uncle” S[a]tan. Diablo messed with Fish’s mind, who killed himself in despair. Against all odds, Diablo sought to make things right, calling in favors from an old friend (Shazam Twix), an old enemy (Gregor Mendel) and a dezombified Lori. Fish was alive again and possibly immortal, Diablo was writing a story about a crab city and a comic strip about gamers, Lori was up to her old tricks, and Space Mummy was just a dick. In the end, it all worked out and life was pretty good. But doom was hovering on the horizon in the form of a little bastard.

it’s about time
Diablo sought to be a good father and told Oliver about his own youth. Oliver sought to dabble in things that Man Was Not Meant To Know, and used Fish as a guinea pig. Fish sought to get in touch with his true inner self and learned he’s more complicated that he thought. Oliver went on a murderous spree, just to prove a point. Against all odds, Toothgnip made it big in Hollywood and killed Diablo again, pretty much out of spite. In other words, everything was completely normal and life was pretty good.

space wizards
The thing to understand is, Toothgnip’s been feeding Fish lines of utter bullshit for years, so sending him to The Manhole to battle Space Wizards? There really was no way to see that turning out particularly bad. But Gregor Mendel had other plans for the immortal Fish, plans that involved a neural simulator, large-bore weapons, and the head of Diablo the Chicken. Jon and Phillip tried to help, but just made things worse: Fish was gone, replaced by the genius/hybrid personality FINEAS. He was pretty mad about things, but accepted a ritual apology from Jon and Phillip in the form of a moustache fight. Against all odds, the three got back on a friendly footing and made plans for a drunken movie, and life was pretty good. Then Good Hitler Versus Space Hitler sucked, and FINEAS was in a funk.

infinite typewriters
Funk or not, FINEAS was awash in ideas about how he could comprehend the infinite nature of creation, but he needed help from Oliver: there were teleport robots to build, oh-so-convenient spacecraft parts to steal, and payback to wreak on Toothgnip. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing much, except for enraged aliens and a goat laying waste to Manhattan, a desperate escape to New Jersey (and other infernal realms), a small family reunion, a disastrous misuse of mystical artifacts, and a stunning betrayal. Oliver had the keys to the Universe, Diablo and Fish were trapped in a dimension of infinite monkeys, and Toothgnip, Neil, and Bob were on the warpath.

Vastly underestimating Jon and Phillip’s natural sense of inertia, Oliver kidnapped them to a pocket dimension so they couldn’t interfere with his plans for domination … if only he weren’t low on gas. Against all odds, Oliver picked up some muscle, Toothgnip picked up his trail, and Fish/FINEAS picked up the pieces of his psyche, along with a disturbing insight into how the universe actually works. One dead biker, a bunch of zapped monkeys, and two ultimatums later, the various warring parties were banished to random dimensions, Diablo and FINEAS had control of the teleport robot, and Jon and Phillip were trapped in God’s own personal boozatorium. You’d think life was pretty good, but FINEAS discovered the universe is running on short time, and a programmer is needed to fix things.

Remember that time the Earth was destroyed? In about seven years, it’s going to suck a whole lot worse. Now the race is on to find Phillip to re-code the universe, and FINEAS and Diablo aren’t the only ones looking for him. Fasten your seatbelts: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Congratulations to the two of them!

(They’re inspiration to those of us just breaching the 5-month barrier…)

Well, the now-defunct magazine WAS online: Help Desk has always been a web comic.

I don’t think Diablo wrote Crab City. Jon was flexing his creative muscle at that time.

Congrats Goats crew. Its been a fun ride so far.

This comic seems to imply that the Crab City was written by Diablo. IT occurred about 8 months prior to the actual Crab City storyline, but it’s an interesting indication.

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