I don't get it. Can you explain it to me?

The Whiteboard FAQ:

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Q: So who the heck draws this crap anyway?

A: "Doc" Nickel of Doc's Machine, part-time lunatic and all-around interesting person. Well, no, I made that last part up. But you can read more about him Here.

Q: I don't get it. What are the characters talking about?

A: Paintball. Or at least, something related to paintball, or something related to day-to-day activities that typically occur in between paintball games. Admittedly sometimes paintball isn't even mentioned, but hey, at least it's not just another bloody gamer comic and it's not all cut-and-paste.

Q: Okay, so what's "Paintball"?

A: Paintball is a sport wherein two teams play a modified form of "capture the flag"- in other words, Team A tries to push through to grab Team B's flag, while Team B is trying to push through to grab that of Team A. Players use a specialized airgun to mark other players with a paintball, thus removing them from that game. Sort of like flag football.

Q: I still don't get it.

A: Then I suggest you go back to reading such for-the-whole-family pap as "Rose is Rose", or "Buckles"

Q: Okay, so why talking animals?

A: Because it's very hard to draw them using sign language coherently.

Q: You know what I mean.

A: Because it's funny and visually interesting, and lends an implied air of the absurd. As in, if it already has talking animals, then hey, anything can happen. Oh, and because he can't draw people well.

Q: So who are they? Anybody we know? Doc is obviously, well, Doc, but who are the rest?

A: The Bear is more accurately an avatar of Doc, a simulacrum. Close, but not quite. The rest are gestalts, composite characters built using facets of many people, culled from books, magazines, real life and online. No one character translates directly to any realworld individual. The "neckless nobodies", as Tyger calls them, are Everyman. They can be anyone and they are no one.

Q: Deep. So what's the setting?

A: The main hangout is a small paintball shop. Here our protagonists while away the days working on paintball equipment, occasionally whipping up some non-paintball contraption, and waiting for the weekend when, interspersed with more gun repairs, they might actually sneak in a game or two. Nearby is at least one playing area called Fox Fields, which has a little of everything- Sup'Air, woodsball, speedball, and room for scenarios. Our heroes occasionally help out with reffing, running games or field maintenence.

Q: Makes sense I suppose. So why's the site so bland and simple?

A: It is, in effect, iconic of the pen-on-white-laminate "whiteboards" from which the strip got it's name. Besides which, Polar Bears are white, as are- depending on the season- ermine, snowshoe hares, arctic foxes and martens, among other Alaskan species. Color would add very little to the flavor of the strip, but would add considerable amounts of time in creating them, time that weighs heavily on the author's already-harried day-to-day schedule.

Besides, when you go to another comic like Schlock Mercenary, do you actually sit there and read all the banners, newsboxes, advertisements and fluff? No, you're here for the comic. The site gives you the comic, and then you can go off and be a productive member of society without unnecessary distractions.

Q: You mean he just can't draw professionally, right?

A: In a nutshell. He also doesn't get paid for it, so count your blessings. And, if you have any more complaints about this totally ad-free, banner-free, pop-up-free, paid-out-of-his-own-pocket, just-'cause-it's-fun comic strip, please feel free to go jam chopsticks in your ears.

Q: Just how is the strip created, then?

A: Ideas come from a vast store of sources, and drawn on prephotocopied strip blanks on regular typing paper, using a Pentel .5mm mechanical pencil, plain grocery store felt-tip ink pens, a UMAX scanner, Paintshop and PhotoShop, a Wacom tablet, an FTP, a website and a really cool little custom-written scheduling applet.

Q: Okay, not to be cliche`d then, but what influences... well, influence the strip, both artistically and philisophically?

A: Philosophy? In a strip about paintball players? You might try increasing the voltage, or at least make sure the electrodes have better contact.

Assuming the question is posed at face value, there are, naturally, the Greats: Watterson, Breathed and Larson, the Holy Triumvirate of Absurdist comickry. There's also John Byrne and Terry Austin and their early works in Marvel's X-Men and Fantastic Four. The early ninties' run of DC's The Swamp Thing. The animated movie Heavy Metal. The Simpsons. Clancy, King and Douglas Adams; Newton, Edison, Von Neumann and John M. Browning; Randi, Segan and Penn & Teller. Carlin, Martin, Williams, Carrey and the Marx siblings.

Q: So he's trying to be hoity-toity and intellectual, eh?

A: Not at all. However, there is certainly no shortage of existing comics based on potty humor, bad puns, and reworked jokes that predate the Three Stooges, and consequently, there's little need to add to the load. The strip is written as it needs to be written. It is not "dumbed down" so more people can understand it, and neither is it full of incomprehensible in-jokes. Yes, there's a few in which the reader needs to have prior knowledge (such as knowing that semicircular inflatable Speedball barricades are often colloquially referred to as "tacos") but the comic is aimed, after all, towards the educated regular paintball player.

Q: What's with all the references to Mountain Dew?

A: Mountain Dew is the Bringer of Life, the Alpha and the Omega, the Nectar of the Gods. MD's combination of sucrose fuels and caffeine stimulants helps power the productivity of a one-man shop that tends to include twelve to twenty-hour days and covers everything from pencil sketching to transmission installations. So naturally enough, MD figures into the strip as well. Besides, a polar bear drinking Coke would very likely infringe on a copyright or two.

Q: Anything else?

A: No.

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