Tooth Magazine folded in '89 when advertisers withdrew their support following the publishing of a controversial illustration featuring C. Everett Koop driving a bulldozer through Tianenmen Square. The caption: 'FLUORIDE UBER ALLES'
#778; A Tough Day for Martin

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MISSIVES. (see all)

Let’s Make ‘Hierarchy of Beards’ and ‘Zoological Times Table’ Jigsaw Puzzles!

I’m turning some of my Victorian-style charts and diagrams into giant jigsaw puzzles!


Check out this pitch video for more details!

I’m really excited about this project. The Hierarchy of Beards poster, and the Beards of our Forefathers book that birthed it, have led very exciting lives.


Pat Race (the photographer, not the subject, of the picture above) took a copy of the book around the World Beard & Mustache Championships in Alaska!


Reader Jonathan N. shared that his personal copy of the Beards poster had an uncredited cameo in an unrelated story about an unassociated legal dispute!


One of the made-up beard styles that I invented was adopted by a folk band in Winnipeg!

And I conducted a lengthy interview with the world’s foremost beard expert!

It’s amazing what one can accomplish in just a few years with a laserlike focus on beards. And I fully expect the Zoological Times Table to take its place in this amazing pantheon, in time.

Puzzles are to posters as ice cream is to milk.

Both are great. Both can be satisfying. But only one is typically enjoyed via a process — spooning, licking, sprinkling, coning, piecing, assembling, dipping in chocolate. Sure, milk can have a process too (I like a latte as much as anyone), but puzzles are process. And like ice cream, puzzles can be pretty cool!

While I wait for the Nobel committee to award me a Metaphor Prize for the preceding paragraph, I will say that I have always been very proud that Wondermark readers are intelligent and charming people with the most discerning taste. I have sold many hundreds of these posters over the years, always to nice people with good-smelling hands.

So you deserve more.

In my new campaign, I’m offering those same posters and books (at cheaper than my typical retail prices) — a great bargain for anyone.

But then you also get this new thing. A puzzle is something to do, not just something to see. A puzzle is a group activity; a puzzle is an art piece; a puzzle is a game that can be shared across generations.

Now, there is a place for super puzzle-maniac difficult puzzles; I don’t think these are they. These are really pretty puzzles that are totally normal puzzles like you would find in the store.

If my lovely Victorian-style joke-puzzles sound like something that would be at home in your life, or the life of someone you care enough about to give a gift to — I hope you’ll reserve your copy (or copies) now!

There are three designs available: The Hierarchy of Beards, the Zoological Times Table, and Sponsored Messages, chock-full of all the labrynthine, intricate faux-Victorian classified advertisements I’ve been polluting my books with for years.

The Machine of Death game was a very complicated Kickstarter, but it is done now.

(You can buy the game now! You can also download the entire game for free.)

I learned a lot doing the MOD game! It was a giant Kickstarter that involved lots of complications — ultimately satisfying, but it took so very long to get settled! So following that, a thing I wanted to try, just to see if I could, was a project that would be deliberately simple.

Hence, the puzzles! In the campaign, you can also get books and/or posters, but that’s it. I will also be making videos along the way, if you’d like to check in on the updates.

So this is a bit of an experiment for me as much as it’s a product for you. Here it is! Puzzles! Grab ‘em while they’re puzzly!

A special advisory for early backers: the first few batches out of the puzzle-fryer will still be chewy on the inside — I guarantee it. 

You can wait, and get a puzzle later, and that’s fine…But it won’t have that flaky puzzle crust you’ve come to love. That’s not how I want my puzzles. Get ‘em fresh. They’re better for you before all the nutrients get blanched out.

Wondermark’s Jigsaw Puzzles of Fictional Victorian Charts

The Travails of the Free Couch

yes this is the real couch

Comic #1060 is quasi-autobiographical. We had a yard sale over the weekend, and we ran into that problem that always occurs (at least if your brain works like ours): you get stuck with something that’s too good to just throw away, but nobody else wants it.

In our case we have a couch that I got for free ten years ago. It’s a perfectly nice little couch, very comfortable in my opinion, but it was taking up space that we wanted to use for other things, and so we offered it in our yard sale.

Nobody bought it. We have cats, so it’s a little bit scratched up — I understand. But the thrift stores don’t want it for that same reason, and nobody on Craigslist seems to be interested.

It’s a shame! It’s a very serviceable couch, if you don’t mind the scratches, and the somewhat ’90s pattern, and the chance (since it has lived with cats for ten years) that it may contain bonus cat-related mysteries within. What’s life without a little mystery, right??

And even though my actual daily life would be affected no differently if it went to the dump, vs. if it went for free to someone who’d love it, I have enough affection for the couch (and general sense of civic responsibility vis-a-vis recycling) that I wish I could see it go to some use somewhere.

So yesterday I began to think about the lengths I would go to in order to give it away.

Internet Archive Releases Millions of Public Domain Images; I Personally Benefit


Thanks to the many people who’ve sent this bit of info my way! In a move that mirrors the British Library’s similar endeavor from a few months ago, the Internet Archive has placed images from 500 years’ worth of public domain books on Flickr, millions and millions of pictures and emblems and logos and marginalia from digitized books.

Here’s Flickr’s official statement.

And, in a move unlike the British Library’s, in this case they’re attempting to use contextual clues from the OCR’d text preceding and following the image to determine ways to thematically tag the images. It’s not…perfect? (The image at the top of this post is tagged “Historical buildings”.) But it’s a pretty cool effort nonetheless!

You can also browse by year, decade, or century, which is super cool if you want to narrow down the type of art style you’re looking for (as I tend to want to do).

I browsed a few dozen pages of the Flickr set and found some cool images that I used in today’s comic! Here are some of my sources:

The men in the foreground
The browsing man in Panel 1
Some of the vases on the tables
An object on a table in the far background

The other elements in the strip today came from my existing collection.

I love things like this, obviously! Hooray for culture! Hooray for old stuff, it’s a souvenir of the world we weren’t around for, and a reminder of where we have been as humans before.