Reprographics (webcomic)

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Reprographics
Author(s) Christopher R. Yates
Website http://www.chrisyates.net/reprographics/
Current status / schedule Updates MWF
Launch date 2005-01-24
Genre(s) Photocomic

Reprographics is a photocomic posted on the website of Christopher R. Yates, a sculptor and toy maker from Boulder, Colorado. Reprographics started out as a semi-biographical comic detailing Chris's life as he worked in an art supply store in the copy shop (hence the name, Reprographics). However, in the first comic, the large copier (The OCE) started talking. Fans accept that the events taking place in the comic are not necessarily true to life, but the tagline of the comic is still "The Tremendously exciting life of Chris Yates in Photo Vision!"

The comic ended its run on April 21, 2007. However, it returned October 5, 2007 as "Reprographics 2".

The comic[edit]

in 2000, Chris Yates started a website [1] as part of his senior project at the Rhode Island School of Design. Later on, the site became a showcase for Chris's art projects and a way for him to display and sell some of those pieces [2][3]. On a whim in early 2005, he started taking pictures of himself at his day job at the local Art Superstore's Reprographics desk. Editing the pictures together to create a narrative, the comic known as Reprographics was born.

The comic originally featured two characters, Chris himself and the OCE, the large copy machine that he worked on. Chris would carry on entire conversations with the OCE, at first thinking that he had gone a bit mental due to lack of caffeine, but later accepting OCE as a sentient entity.

Later in the comic, Chris would incorporate his friends and family into the story and then started creating characters to add to the Reprographics universe. The first, and most famous of his characters was Mensa the Menacer, leader of the notorious Supervillain Team Club. An evil genius with a vastly oversized brain, Mensa is Chris's best friend and has never been seen out of character in a Reprographics comic. Another addition to the cast came by way of The Visitors, small, one-eyed space creatures that Chris fashioned out of wood for a stop-motion film in 1998.

As time went on, Chris was able to take his camera to conventions, road trips and shows, incorporating his adventures into the comic as well. The comic has been running since January 2005 and is still updating three times a week. Reprographics is now part of the web-comics group Playground Ghosts, which features such comics as Wondermark and Fluff in Brooklyn.

Since its creation, Reprographics has undergone some stylistic changes, moving away from the high-contrast blurs and monotone colors that had marked the early comics and progressing to more colorful surroundings, sharper images and more varied adventures. There has also been a shift from self-contained one-shot strips [4], to a format that also allows for longer story arcs [5]. Since the Reprographics universe has grown, it is possible to have entire strips without Chris in them, allowing the readers to see what kinds of things happen the other characters on a day-to-day basis [6]. Chris has also used the comic as a way to educate his readers about some of his favorite artists [7].

Characters[edit]

  • Chris Yates: The protagonist and cartoonist himself. Chris is an artist and sometimes musician residing in Boulder, Colorado. Chris is the creator of the Chris Yates Tracking System [8], pieces of which can be found all over the world. Chris is a professional sculptor and photographer, working in such varied media as wood [9], digital art [10], and gumballs [11]. He is also the main photographer of the comic strip, and is a facial contortion expert, as seen in many, if not most, episodes.

Inanimate Objects[edit]

Several of the Reprographics characters are props that are given dialog.

  • The OCE:[12] A large copy machine. OCE has undergone a couple of changes since his introduction to the comic, the most notable of which was the addition of the Awesome button [13]. In early 2006, Chris left the Reprographics desk and OCE has left the cast.
  • The Repromonkeys:[14] Chris spent some time away from the Reprographics desk. During this hiatus, the Art Superplace hired two monkeys to fill in. The monkeys are quite stupid and are only able to master simple tasks, to a certain extent. Their dialog consists only of the words, "oop oop." The monkeys are made of wood, presumably by Chris, and they followed him when he left Art Superplace. They have appeared sporadically since the departure.
  • Vinyl Ball:[15] A 350 pound ball of vinyl. Chris had a brief stint working at a sign shop (not depicted in the comic) and made Vinyl Ball out of the scraps from the store. Vinyl Ball is large and multi-colored and, like most things in the Reprographics world, can talk. Vinyl Ball generally represents the more rational side of the conversation, prompting Chris to work on his art projects or to focus more on things that will make some money, rather than goofing around with things that don't pay for rent and heat.
  • The Visitors:[16] The Visitors are supposedly from space. Each one is a different color and their names correspond with their shade (e.g., Pupillo is purple, Ovsepian is Orange, etc.). They are messengers from Tooty Tooty, the planet of wishes. They were sent to train the chosen one to save their world when danger came. They landed in Providence in 1998 and found Chris. The visitors hoped that they had made the right choice. At one point in the story, the Visitors took some time off from training Chris to form a musical group called The Monoculars. They are apparently very big in Japan. Their music caught the attention of Sigur Rós' singer Jonsi and the Monoculars sang a song as the opening act at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (in the comic only. Obviously this did not really happen). their music has been described as "high-pitched, deafening, caustic atonal harmonies."[17]
  • Small Stuffed Felt Frosted Donut:[18] Originally sent to Chris as part of a gift exchange program, Small Stuffed Felt Frosted Donut exists to make people smile, and they do, because who doesn't like a Small Stuffed Felt Frosted Donut? Small Stuffed Felt Frosted Donut is always in a good mood and likes cheering for just about anything that happens around him. He represents the encouragement that we all need sometimes.
  • Mr. Chompy:[19] Mr. Chompy is a hand puppet who has only appeared in two Reprographics comics. He is utilized in conjunction with the Box O' Punchlines (i.e., when Chris needs something funny really fast).

People[edit]

  • Mensa the Menacer:[20] Mensa is an evil genius bent on world domination. He is also the leader of the SuperVillain Team Club. He has an over-sized brain (which is green for some reason) and is Chris's best friend. Mensa is very good at inventing things, but not very good at using them for the betterment of humanity. Rather, he enjoys causing mischief and mayhem. He is also highly skilled at the art of making garlic burgers.[21]
  • Sungeun/Devo Man:[22] Sungeun is one of Chris's friends from Boulder. His first appearance in the comic was as a blurry figure in the background, but later became the sinister Devo Man, a member of the SuperVillain Team Club. Sungeun himself is a rocket scientist and has acknowledged that he lives a double life, moonlighting as Devo Man and then removing his Devo Shades and hat to become Sungeun again. Chris is apparently the only one who didn't notice how similar Sungeun and Devo Man looked.
  • The Salesman:[23] The Salesman preys on Chris's gullibility, making a profit in any way he can. Some of his methods involve blowing up fruit on Chris's doorstep, offering to enter Chris into phony art competitions, and making false claims about the products he peddles. Salesman worked for The Big Boss until The Boss escaped to Vegas. Now he is in the service of the SuperVillain Team Club. He has recently tried to teach Chris the art of the hard sell.
  • Terrence:[24] Terrence is a friend from Boulder who, until recently, shared a house with Chris. He made a couple of appearances as Jah-Ra, a member of the SuperVillain Team Club, but later cut off his dreadlocks and stated that he is just Terrence now. He recently got engaged to Nancy, another Boulder friend.
  • The Starer:[25] Starer is a member of the SuperVillain Team Club and has perfected "The Last Stare you will Ever See." No one is really sure what this stare does, but it is generally feared by the other SVTC members. Starer has also used his staring powers to hypnotize [26] and to look into the future [27]. It is not clear whether Starer has learned how to use the power of staring or if it is a genetic mutant power he possesses, but his new baby seems to have a good handle on the powers as well.

Others[edit]

  • Zarkon:[28] A puppy. Zarkon was given to Chris when the previous owner became unable to care for him. Chris hit a dilemma on what to name his new friend, so he turned the decision over to his fans. The name Zarkon won by two votes. After a short while it became obvious that Zarkon, while playful and lovable, was becoming something of a financial burden. Chris reluctantly gave Zarkon to a good home, feeling that this would be best for all concerned.
  • Saskatchewan:[29] A Canadian province. Chris found Saskatchewan hanging around his house and feels that Saskatchewan is a pretty swell dude. Saskatchewan will only talk about himself, telling Chris and his friends interesting things about Saskatchewan (i.e. "Our major exports are agricultural, mostly wheat."). Shortly after his introduction to the cast, Saskatchewan joined Mensa's SuperVillain Team Club, for whom he guards the door. Incidentally, the first door factory in Saskatchewan was established in 1807. Saskatchewan was in love with Manitoba, which he declares shortly before dying from a fall [30] whilst expiditioneering with Box-head.

Educational Strips[edit]

Chris has used the Reprographics strip to entertain as well as educate his readers, taking time off from simple gags and super villains to talk about various sculptors that have inspired him, (i.e. during Sculpture Week)[31], [32], [33], [34] and other things that are seemingly not as relevant to his art, such as the metric system [35].

Other strips take the readers on the road and show off some of the random road-side attractions around America's heartland, such as the Twine Ball of Cawker City, Kansas[36], and some strange signs posted around Amarillo, Texas[37].

Politics[edit]

Reprographics has refrained from making political statements with only two notable exceptions. The first was when Chris read about some teenaged girls being threatened with legal action in Ravenna, Ohio[38]. The teens had hung large boxes around Ravenna's city center that were decorated to resemble the question-mark power-up blocks from the popular Super Mario Brothers video games. City authorities viewed this as a potential threat, fearing that the boxes might contain bombs, and the teenagers received national news attention while the city decided whether the law had been broken. In solidarity with the teens, Chris hung some Mario Blocks of his own over a creek in Boulder [39].

The second was made on July 17, 2006 [40] when Mensa the Menacer was discussing his confidence that his evil aspirations for global domination and carnage would not hurt his run for political office in 2008.

Mensa: America needs a leader who is not afraid to license violence as an excuse for EVERYTHING!!!
Chris: We already have one of those.

Reprographics 2[edit]

On April 21, Chris posted what seemed to be the last episode of Reprographics. This one tells in textual format the conclusion of the "Mensa and the Giant axle" storyline. Nine days later it was revealed that the comic would be on hiatus for six months, returning in October 2007, at which point it would be named "Reprographics 2: Electric Boogaloo".

During "The Great Intermission", Chris ran daily updates of various things he had made over the years (i.e. artwork, sculpture, videos, music) to keep his readers entertained until the comic resumed.

On October 5, 2007, Reprographics 2 began, and has been running since then, with updates on the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of every week.