My name's Ryan North, and I'm the guy behind Dinosaur Comics! Also, here's some other things I've done:

Ask me anything about anything!

EDIT: Proof that this is really me is that I am linking here on qwantz.com AS WE SPEAK (in the newspost beneath the strip)

EDIT 2: You guys, I've been answering questions for over eight hours, and we've got over 1300 comments. That's awesome! But I've got to take a stop and, you know, have a shower and stuff. YES, I WAS INDEED ANSWERING ALL THESE QUESTIONS WHILE STINKY. So thank you all very much for your questions and for being so nice. This was rad!

I tried to reply to every top-level question but I'm pretty sure I missed some of the subquestions. If I missed yours, I'm sorry!

Thanks again!

Comments: 1489 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

thatguitarist260 karma

I don't have a question but I would just like to say, OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.

qwantz332 karma

Here I am, ON THE INTERNET!

thatguitarist211 karma

Here I am, CREAMING MY JEANS BECAUSE THE GUY WHO WRITES THE DINOSAURS JUST REPLIED TO ME OH FUCK!!

qwantz295 karma

Here I am, SUGGESTING THAT IT IS TIME TO CHANGE THOSE JEANS RATHER THAN JUST LETTING IT STEW

dorkasaurus190 karma

Ryan, not so long ago, you gave me some advice. You said a surefire way of getting a girl to accept my date invite is to append "And there will be freshly-baked cookies" to the invite. This has since worked three times.

My question: Is this how you got your current girlfriend? How long have you two been together?

qwantz186 karma

I actually met her at a book launch, and I showed her my calves, as they were amazingly sculpted from a season of longboarding, and I'd JUST noticed this in the shower that morning.

Apparently, that works every time!

Portponky147 karma

Why are your hands so crinkley?

qwantz198 karma

OKAY, that was because they were cupped and it was a close-up shot.

http://qwantz.livejournal.com/104142.html

HONEST

qwantz307 karma

actually on second thought they are kinda crinkley

kazgar135 karma

Hi, I've bought your book but when I hovered a mouse over the pages, the tooltip didn't appear, and I couldn't email you, this was most disappointing. Are you planning a second volume, and if so, can it have these features, or olde world paper versions of said features?

qwantz102 karma

A second volume has been in the works for a while, and is being held back only by the current impossibility of this "e" paper you suggest

dkesh134 karma

I've noticed that a lot of the artwork in your comic is pretty consistent from one strip to the next? How do you, day after day, produce such similar artwork, down to every last detail? I can't even write my name the same way twice.

qwantz178 karma

Practice. These days I write the comic in my head, and then pound out the binary code for the image, with text and dialogue added. Then I hit save and upload the file without even checking it, and that's how Dinosaur Comics gets made!

Frothyleet116 karma

How often are the philosophies espoused by T-Rex your own, no matter how absurd?

Do you like writing for God or the Devil better?

Who would you say are your inspirations or influences, in writing, comicry, or otherwise?

Can I get a high five?

qwantz142 karma

A lot of what T-Rex talks about are things I've considered!

I like writing the Devil because he has a voice, and when I write him I say all his lines out loud to make sure they work. So, he's harder to write when in public.

I've been influenced by tons of other online comics: all the ones I link to on the site beneath each strip are things that I love, and that have contributed in one way or another, I'm sure!

As for high fives:

o/

jedberg104 karma

Why do you hate our servers so much that you would send all of your rabid fans here?

Don't worry, I totally forgive you!

qwantz193 karma

I SHOW MY LOVE THROUGH INCREASED HTTP REQUESTS

RedSalesperson101 karma

Of all the webcomics I read, yours is probably the most consistent in quality (in a "it has a lot of it" way, not a "it's always awful" way). Is it difficult to keep this up instead of just easing into a downward slide? Do you see any end to Dinosaur Comics?

Can I marry you?

qwantz100 karma

TWO QUESTIONS! Okay so for the first one, thanks! It's not hard to keep it up so far - each morning I try to make a comic that makes me laugh, so I really am just writing for my own (thankfully shared) sense of humour. I hope to end it before it starts to suck!

You can't marry me because I totally already have a girlfriend! :0

Jibberwalk118 karma

... but no boyfriend yet, eh?

rubs hands together with glee.

qwantz189 karma

THAT POSITION IS OPEN, BY DEFAULT, IT WOULD SEEM

tuoder100 karma

What on Earth gave you the idea to use a template everyday? I would have thought it restricting, but you make it work beautifully.

qwantz97 karma

Wanting to work within my restrictions, I guess! I thought it would be more restricting too, but there's really so much you can do with it! This was a very nice thing to discover.

bookey2322 karma

how long did it take you to decide which template would be the one you use for your entire series?

qwantz38 karma

I only made two: one that didn't work, and one that did, so I went with that one! Start to finish was probably just a few hours one Saturday morning.

gcandela97 karma

58008

qwantz108 karma

I approve of this comment

dearsomething72 karma

You just got starred!

I'd like to ask you about a very specific comic you made, which inspired one of your greatest t-shirts. It's this comic here.

How did you come up with the greatest catch phrase of all time? What was your inspiration? I can't count how many times I've used this phrase (in jest) when grading. It depresses, now that I think about it.

qwantz63 karma

Yay!! Thanks!

I'm glad you like that one - it's one of my favourites too. It came about organically: I was getting all these "DUDE you HAVE to do a Pi Day comic!!" emails and really wasn't into the whole Pi Day thing, so I ran with that instead. The last line of panel 5, "Not failure! Approximations of success!" made the last panel flow entirely, and when I finished writing it I thought I'd come across something special.

Just for you, I looked up the original text file for that comic, and here's how it originally ended:

PANEL 5:

t: I mean, I don't MIND if they want to eat pie today. Like any other day, I'll eat any pie that's offered to me. I just don't get the ENTHUSIASM for it, you know?

u: Well, until celebrating it becomes obligatory, I wouldn't worry about it!

PANEL 6:

t: I know! Honestly, all this talking about it makes me look more against it than I am. I was just talking about how I don't understand it. I also feel a profound disconnect with women's underwear, but that wouldn't stop me from wearing it!

t: But I don't wear any underwear!

t: As you can clearly see!

... A believe at that point I decided another direction was needed. Thankfully!

qork69 karma

Woo! Okay, I have a ton of questions, so I'll ask the stupidest one: is your normal speech or writing anything like T-Rex's?

qwantz149 karma

The one trait that carried over from my writing is the exclamation mark usage. I found in emails saying things like "I'm really hungry." sounded very - serious and important, but saying things like "I'm really hungry!!" sounded more ridiculous. In situations where I didn't want to be misunderstood, ridiculous trumped overserious!

develdevil43 karma

A writing instructor once said: Using a exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.

qwantz92 karma

That writing instructor probably didn't write comedy, or enthusiastic characters, or relied on "he exclaimed" more than they cared to admit.

nashife23 karma

I can't help but notice you did not use an exclamation mark here. :)

qwantz88 karma

Okay, let me try again: man, screw your teacher!!

qork22 karma

Now maybe a less stupid question: how easy or difficult would you say it is for an average guy like myself to set up a comic/site like yours?

qwantz57 karma

Easier every day: there's so many sites that will set things up for you. Easiest is probably the Comicpress theme for Wordpress, but I wrote my own backend. It doesn't have to do much: just display the strip and link around a bit!

rosannapatricia69 karma

Hi Ryan I like your comic.
I want to know if we will ever see Mr Tusks again. I miss him a Tiny bit.

qwantz87 karma

Yep! I don't know when though. Probably in a little bit.

FastAndBulbous52 karma

What was your favourite guest strip done for Dinosaur Comics? Also, how often do you find yourself strapped for any good ideas, or at least a way of putting a satisfying conclusion into each strip?

qwantz181 karma

That's a good one. I think it's Andrew Hussie's one, because it is SO INSANE and I wished I'd thought of it myself.

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1486

When I can't think of a conclusion I leave the comic and try to come back to it later! The next day it's a great thing to have a comic that's almost done, just waiting for a punchline.

kazgar29 karma

Did you know that comic was coming before it arrived? What was your first thought upon seeing it? What was the thought after you went through all the loops and saw all the layers?

qwantz90 karma

I knew it was coming since I'd asked him for one, but I had no idea what form it would take. I actually first read it on my iPod which doesn't do gif animation, so my first thought was "Oh, um, huh, Andrew kinda dropped the ball on this one!"

Then I saw it in real life and it was RAD

Wyrm19 karma

Speaking of guest comics, how many other webcomic artists are you acquainted with? I'm pretty sure you know Jeph Jacques, and also Randall Munroe right? (I seem to remember it was you 3 that did the April 1st site swap, which was pretty cool by the way and introduced me to your comic in the first place)

Edit: Also, how does it feel to have your own Wikipedia page?

qwantz36 karma

Oh, tons - at conventions you meet everybody who's there, really! Besides those you mentioned, I'm good friends with Joey Comeau, Emily Horne, Kate Beaton, John Campbell, and others too but suddenly it feels weird to be dropping names?

Having your own Wikipedia page is weird, because initially it was all wrong - clearly made by like, a friend of a friend who knew some things but got the details all messed up. Now it's mostly accurate and the only time it comes up is when a friend (usually a new one) looks me up and is freaked out for a bit!

IntrepidVector14 karma

How well do you know David Malki !? I know he did a guest comic for you. He actually had a drawn version of the template for the point of view of a dude in the log cabin. It was neat.

qwantz20 karma

He's slept at my place and we talk over Skype sometimes! So: pretty well.

Although not that well because I never saw that strip you're talking about! LINKZ PLZ

IntrepidVector18 karma

I swear it exists. Hm. Gimme a minute. I could easily be thinking of something else. It had T-Rex talking about Ant-Man.

On second thought, I may be thinking of the creator of Dr. McNinja...

Edit: It was totally Dr. McNinja's writer and artist.

qwantz21 karma

Oh, that's Chris Hasting and Kent Archer's (Dr. McNinja) guest strip! It is also awesome!

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=993

sven8944 karma

What is your favorite Calvin and Hobbes strip (if you read it)?

qwantz89 karma

I've read every one, even the one that was never reprinted!

I'm not sure if I have a favourite, but the one where Calvin is replaced with an alien ("lunnns boxx") is awesome, as is the Sunday strip where he and Susie are playing house, and it's rendered super-realistically, only Calvin's character is saying these ridiculous things about how he wants a divorce and stuff. Awesome!

sven8946 karma

The alien one is pretty awesome, and is this the realistic one you talked about?

qwantz24 karma

That's the one - thanks!

Spacecow38 karma

Ha, saw your news post yesterday and said "oh boy" and then forgot to think of something good to ask. Drat.

Something I've wondered from time to time; what is your background in? I've seen lots of ruminations on really diverse topics like biology, linguistics, history, computer science, and Shakespeare--is any of this rooted in what you used to do/study, or is it just interesting stuff you randomly happened across on Wikipedia? :)

qwantz104 karma

I've gotten letters from people CONVINCED I've got a degree in pretty much each of those fields you mentioned. The secret is that I just do a bit of research before each strip that requires it (so I don't sound like an idiot to people who actually know what they're talking about). That, and to ask people what the most awesome thing they know about is.

My background is an undergrad degree in computer science and a graduate degree in computational linguistics, which, as I'm sure you know, means that Randall and I have battled to the death several times now

kevlarbaboon30 karma

means that Randall and I have battled to the death several times now

Are you bigger than him?

qwantz72 karma

Taller, at least! I'm six foot six and a half.

InfinitelyThirsting18 karma

Did you always like to random research, or is it just something you acquired for the comic? And, what's your favourite thing you've learned that you had no idea about before?

qwantz34 karma

Oh, always! And there's tons, but the one that came to mind just now is HeLa cells:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa

SO CRAZY, SO AWESOME

ohai13 karma

You write like T-Rex. Just with not as much frig.

qwantz30 karma

FRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-

Rubin035 karma

The Dinosaur frames have been the center of your comic since day one.

However, were other such frames in the running?

qwantz84 karma

Nope! There was one layout I went with first, but it sucked. Here's the only (unfinished) strip I made with it:

http://qwantz.com/comics/comic1-1.png

I put T-Rex in the first two panels, and suddenly everything worked! I consider it one of the most lucky things I've ever done.

kaens27 karma

The second panel (in the normal comic) is wonderful. It's like an extra visual exclamation mark.

qwantz34 karma

Thanks! A lot of T-Rex's personality comes from that panel, I think.

qwantz52 karma

I've gotten sad emails from people in beautiful Cornwall, England, and I'm like, no guys, I mean Cornwall, ONTARIO.

happybadger34 karma

Where did the original drawings come from, and what made you decide to keep the same drawings for each strip?

edit: Also, please get a men's medium for this t-shirt. I want to buy it so hard that my badger parts are tingling, but small is too small and large is wayyyy too fat :(.

qwantz68 karma

My first idea was actually a comic where the STORY never changed but the pictures did. It was a great idea but the exact wrong comic for me to be doing, and eventually someone else had the same idea before me:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercises_in_Style

That's right, I believe in preemptive plagiarism!

But when I flipped the idea around, I thought it could work, and it would let me make a comic despite the fact that I can't really draw. The drawings themselves came from this ancient drawing program I got in one of those "10 CDs joined together by plastic!" dealies I bought back in like 1990 when CD-ROM was a Very Big Deal.

novembersaurus31 karma

I want royalties.

qwantz85 karma

Novembersaurus, you are clearly a derivative work of Octobersaurus! I will only pay Januarysaurus.

Chetyre31 karma

No question, just wanted to say that Qwantz is my favorite webcomic. My copy of Happy Dog the Happy Dog is one of the best things on my bookshelf, and I love leaving it out for people to see, then read, then look at me and say "What the hell is this!?"

qwantz65 karma

Awesome, thanks! At a show once this very matronly lady came up and flipped through the book, and we were like, "Oh, that's not - that's not really for kids" and she said "I'LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT", read the whole thing, said "Why would you tell me that this is not for kids?" and then bought two copies.

nemitzka31 karma

Do you think that breakfast cereal in milk can be considered a type of soup?

qwantz37 karma

I have never considered the possibility, and I guess it could be a subclass of soup, or at least some superclass of soup, but it's really something different which is why we have a different word for it!

[deleted]28 karma

my fat internet friend always links me to your comics and I always laugh. I guess this is a thanks for giving my fat internet friend something to link me to so I laugh. I probably wouldn't be his internet friend if he didn't have your comics to link to.

qwantz38 karma

This is where I say "Thanks"! I'm glad that my comic can be the glue that holds you two together

HarryCarrey27 karma

Wh.. What's your favourite planet?

qwantz43 karma

E-Earth?

jcambridge25 karma

Hi Ryan, long time listener, first time caller. I was wondering if you have anything planned coinciding with, or after, dinosaur comics. Obviously you're a hilarious comic-designer, can you see yourself putting your mind to another creative project? Because I am just waiting for a "Ryan North on THE UNIVERSE" book in my local store. Or maybe an autobiography. Yes, that will do.

qwantz60 karma

I tried to write a novel once but the problem is that T-Rex scratches most of the itches I've got when it comes to writing - especially when, rather than writing the book, I'll just have T-Rex summarize it for me and hit the high spots:

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1355

If you look at the email and title text for that one, you can see I was REALLY into the idea.

So if Dinosaur Comics ends I'd probably do more writing in a longer form, but it's hard to sort of save those ideas now, when I could put them in a comic and get so much gratification of the instant variety

[deleted]21 karma

This is one of my favorite comics of yours - I used it to introduce several dozen people around the office to your work. Several of them now own t-shirts.

I think what I am trying to say is that maybe you should have a referral program or maybe just send me five bucks or something.

EDIT: Also, just so you know - I love you in that special way that a dude loves another dude. But not in that special way that a dude loves another dude.

qwantz21 karma

Thanks man! I will send you five internet buxxx, which you can trade for anything online that ends in three xs.

LanthonyS25 karma

Humorously, 95% of the people talking to you are attempting to imitate your voice (or that of Dinosaur Comics). Is this awesome?

qwantz39 karma

I think either it happens naturally, or the things I get associated with (enthusiasm! exclamation marks! ALL CAPS WHEN YOU WANT TO DENOTE IRONY OR SOMETHING, I DUNNO) are just really easy to slide into, and fun, especially when you see someone else doing it!

Maledictis24 karma

I was just on the regret index, and I saw one of the most soul-crushing things I've ever seen. "Hoping". Do you ever regret hoping? The regret index was 1. Everyone has regretted hoping.

My question for you is this: Dude, what if your regret index causes suicides?

qwantz117 karma

The saddest one I ever saw was "Being born too late for tall ships, but too soon for space ships".

:(

qwantz14 karma

That would be a pretty big regret I would say

Maledictis23 karma

I'm sure this has been asked somewhere else, but I'm asking anyway, because it's something, which is part of anything. Do you feel restricted by the Dinosaur Comic Template, or is it more liberating to know that you never have to work from the ground up?

qwantz65 karma

Liberating, totally liberating. I never face a blank piece of paper in the morning, you know?

MrDerk22 karma

What are your thoughts on the word "ginormous?"

qwantz52 karma

Cautiously for it; a friend of mine is doing his thesis on lexical blends like that!

IntrepidVector20 karma

Why is the Devil in your comics so obsessed with the mundane?

Can characters besides T-Rex hear God?

How can I become as rad as T-Rex?

How do explain the breathtaking amount of anachronisms involved in the dinosaurs talking about the things they talk about? I think you mentioned it once.

qwantz38 karma

  • He was originally based on this dude on the bus who was TOTALLY OBSESSED with these things
  • Nobody but T-Rex can hear God.
  • You have to be at least six stories tall, which is how tall he is, which is how tall I thought dinosaurs were when I started the comic.
  • A few reasons that I change as I go: alternate universe, post-apocalypse in which dinosaurs have risen again, parallel development - basically all these were taken from various Star Trek episodes though, explaining how the Cowboy Planet and Nazi Planet came to be.

Randolpho17 karma

Ryan:

What the frig? Seriously, man.

qwantz34 karma

Seriously.

thajugganuat17 karma

[deleted]

qwantz38 karma

No day job - I make enough to live like a regular dude!

stoveOVEN17 karma

Hey ryan, your webcomic is sweet. When will there be more Whispered Apologies? Those are badass. Also the regret index is fun, good work on that. Is Canada really as amazing as I've been lead to believe? What career should I choose for my future?

Maybe I'll think of something worth asking. What would you like to be asked?

qwantz23 karma

So many questions! IN ORDER: * Hopefully, eventually! * Canada is pretty great but I'm worried it can be oversold, which would lead to sadness when it's finally visited. * Something you'd want to do even if you weren't being paid to do it, ideally. It's hard to find, and even harder to find someone to pay you! * How come you're so handsome?

PECOTA16 karma

Ryan one of my favourite things about your writing style is that you're being subversive in linguistics? Like as in you totally write breaking many rules of the English language, but do so self-consciously, which makes it AWESOME

i like your writing style is what i'm trying to say OK

qwantz19 karma

Hah, thanks PECOTA! I do get away with a lot because I've got a degree in linguistics (with COMPUTERS, but it's still the same), so I get to play that jazz "know the rules in order to break them" card.

c3rbutt15 karma

Can you promise that T-Rex will never use the words 'FAIL' or 'EPIC'?

qwantz49 karma

He uses them in the course of daily speech, but never as words on their own!

[deleted]14 karma

I don't think I have anything to ask right now, just wanted to say, you are awesome, and make me laugh out loud nearly every time I read one of the comics.

That 'travel back in time' shirt is great too. I got it as a gift for my fiancee. He's always talking about what we will have to do if technology crumbles and how long it will take to rebuild human knowledge if some catastrophe destroys all of it. I guess he'll just have to wear the shirt forever! ;D

qwantz39 karma

Hah, awesome! I'm glad you liked it - that shirt got a lot of coverage from non-DC readers, and half of it was "WOW, AMAZING!" and the other half was "Hurr hurr, the explanation of flight is too superficial and doesn't cover turbulence", and I was like, DUDES, it's more than the Wright Bros knew, and it'll get you airborne, and I'm not doing fluid dynamics on a t-shirt from first principles.

doloreshaze13 karma

Ryan, how did you get to be so hunky?

qwantz37 karma

GENES AND NATURAL HUNKINESS, BABY!!

ALSO I WORKED HARD AT IT AT THE GYM, BLASING MY QUADS

doloreshaze14 karma

The caps are only serving to emphasise your hunkiness! CAPSHUNK!

qwantz41 karma

Interestingly, "capshunk" is the sound the keys make when I pound them in all-caps mode

grantrules13 karma

Does it get hard drawing the same dinosaurs in the exact same position every day?

qwantz13 karma

You get really good at doing that one particular task! Also you can trace

FillInTheBlank13 karma

Ever thought about getting a new template?

qwantz47 karma

My original idea was that every month, I'd switch up the template. At the end of the first month I was going to switch to Astronaut Comics, but the astronaut clip art I had totally sucked and I believe I had to travel that weekend anyway, so I said "OH WELL" and continued on with the images I already had.

georgeb12 karma

If you had to turn your personality into a pie chart made up of T-Rex, Utahraptor and Dromiceiomimus's personalities, what percentages of each would you use?

Also, which Dinosaur Comic character would produce the tastiest pie when baked?

qwantz27 karma

Like Fox News, I would rate them at 60% 60% 40%, respectively.

In terms of physical pie, oh man, I dunno. God, probably?

el_pinata11 karma

Hi Ryan, I'm El Pinata, and I'm (apparently not!) a sex addict.

Now that that's out of the way, I wanted to ask what your process is for coming up with new content. Does it strike you randomly while you drive your Ferrari over to Randall Monroe's house? Is there a ritual binge and purge process that helps prepare you mentally for the rigors of writing Dinosaur Comics? Do you perhaps worship a Sumerian trickster god and enlist his help? Two parter on that last one; when's the feast day for said Sumerian trickster god, because I could really use some inspiration these days.

Thanks a bunch!

qwantz15 karma

El Pinata, there's no such thing as a sex addict, just a sex enthusiast.

I think the feast day is in November? Who knows, man, Loki and his pals can MIX IT UP.

My process is to keep track of the awesome things around me and in the world, write them down, and try to explore them or come back to them when I need inspiration! If that fails I try to just start a conversation between characters and see where it goes.

grantrules11 karma

What's your LEAST favorite pasta shape?

qwantz29 karma

ones shaped like little butts

CheapyPipe14 karma

And he can not lie.

qwantz26 karma

The other pasta-eaters can't deny

nazbot11 karma

WHEN IS THE MOVIE DAMMIT!

qwantz61 karma

THE MOVIE WILL BE 5 MINUTES OF FOOTAGE REPEATED 1601 TIMES WITH DIFFERENT DIALOGUE, IT WILL BE THE BEST

WAIT I MEAN WORST

fiiidget11 karma

One time, I swore I saw a Dinosaur Comic where Dromiceiomimus totally mauled T-Rex and then all their heads exploded. Did that really happen or was that just a dream I had?

Also, thanks for making dorky language comics that I laugh and laugh about and then when I try to show them to my non-linguist friends they're all like, "what, this is boring." Thanks for that.

qwantz19 karma

Thanks! ALSO: that was a fevered dream, fiiidget!!

never tell anyone about that strip

Yabbaba10 karma

Ok, I'm withdrawing my proposal to the SMBC guy.

Will you marry me?

qwantz24 karma

I think maybe you are too committed to monogamy, Yabbaba! If you allow yourself multiple partners you could marry us BOTH.

[deleted]10 karma

[deleted]

qwantz21 karma

DO IT

amir_beast8 karma

The woman in panel 4 - what's her story? Is she content with her role as little more than mashing fodder for T-rex's foot?

qwantz10 karma

I think she is, mostly! But there's been times where that's not the case:

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=281