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Dinosaur Comics is a webcomic created by Canadian Ryan North in February 2003. The comic updates every weekday, consisting of the same six panels illustrating a conversation between three dinosaurs, T-Rex, Dromiceiomimus and Utahraptor.
Ryan North registered the domain name qwantz.com on November 19th, 2002. In a 2012 Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit, North stated that the name has the “same secret semantics as xkcd,” whose domain name came from Randall Munroe’s attempt at finding a combination of letters that weren’t already being used. The first Dinosaur Comics strip (shown below) was posted on February 1st, 2003 after North created the six panel layout using a clip art program with posable dinosaurs.
In 2004, Dinosaur Comics began to gain traction in the webcomics community with a review on ComixTalk in April and two separate mentions in the commentary of the webcomic Questionable Content later that year. On April 1st, 2005, graphic novelist Warren Ellis named Dinosaur Comics as one of his favorite webcomics on his blog. The following month, it was linked on internet culture blog BoingBoing and in June a Wikiquote page for the series was created. That November, a parody site titled NewsRex was created, mashing up Reuters’ RSS feed with the Dinosaur Comics template (shown below). In December 2005, Dinosaur Comics was named the Most Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic on About.com’s Web Cartoonist Choice Awards.
In 2011, a fan composed a timeline of the events in the comic. As of 2013, Dinosaur Comics have been discussed on Comic Vine, Think Progress, Newgrounds and Comic Book Resources, among many others. Additionally, creator Ryan North has participated in several Reddit Ask Me Anything threads and has been interviewed by Smithsonian Magazine, the Torontoist and Comic Book Resources. Dinosaur Comics updates are available on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and LiveJournal in addition to the Qwantz.com homepage as of August 2013.
A number of other webcomic artists have emulated the Dinosaur Comics art style for their own blogs as well as guest strips on Qwantz including the artists of Wondermark, Sam and Fuzzy, Obohemia (shown below, left), xkcd (shown below, right) and Hark! A Vagrant.
Machine of Death
In the December 5th, 2005 Dinosaur Comics strip (shown below), T-Rex tells his friends he is going to write a story about a world where everyone knows how to they’re going to die due to a machine that spits out a vague word associated with the cause of their death. Two years later, North began soliciting stories about this machine from unknown authors via message board. In late 2010, after being unable to find a publisher for their completed anthology, he and co-editors Matthew Bennardo and David Malki ! of Wondermark decided to self-publish the book titled Machine of Death.
The editors encouraged fans to purchase the book on October 26th, 2010 in effort to make it Amazon’s #1 bestseller that day. It was successful, despite them not spending any money on marketing materials. In November 2010, the group launched a free podcast featuring audio stories from the book, which continued through September 2012. In February 2013, they launched a Kickstarter to create a party game inspired by the stories in the anthology, which raised $556,596, 2420% of its $23,000 goal. In July 2013, a second Machine of Death anthology was released.
To Be or Not To Be
In November 2012, Ryan North created a Kickstarter campaign to fund a choose-your-own-adventure book based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In less than a week, the project raised six times more than its $20,000 goal, finishing at 2900% of that, or $580,905, making it the most-funded publishing campaign of all time.
As of August 2013, Qwantz.com has an Alexa rank of 30,354 in the United States and 109,990 globally.
Smithsonian Mag – Interview With Ryan North, Creator of Dinosaur Comics
Kickstarter – Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination
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