David Willis (cartoonist)
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|Born||David M Willis
April 3, 1979
Joyce & Walky!
Dumbing of Age
David M Willis (born April 3, 1979) is an American web cartoonist currently living in Columbus, Ohio best known for his interconnected series of webcomics Roomies!, It's Walky!, Shortpacked!, and Dumbing of Age. Willis is known online in chatrooms and forums as "ItsWalky". KUTV in Salt Lake City calls him a satirist who is "a little bit edgy."
The shape-shifting robot franchise Transformers appears frequently in Willis' work. He was an administrator on Teletraan I, the Transformers Wiki from 2006 to 2008, when he facilitated a move from Wikia to its own site at tfwiki.net. Willis eventually became involved in official licensed Transformers artwork for Fun Publications' Transformers Collector's Club, particularly the regular club magazine feature Recordicons.
Previously featured at Keenspot with the comic of It's Walky! and the first months of Shortpacked!, Willis left to co-found Blank Label Comics in 2005. After Blank Label Comics was discontinued, he has continued his online presence at Shortpacked!, which has archives back to January 2005.
On September 19, 2008, Willis proposed to his girlfriend of four years, Maggie Weidner, in that day's episode of Shortpacked!. She accepted with a cartoon posted in the Shortpacked! blog. On September 21, 2009, Willis posted their wedding program. Their twin boys, Chase Alexander and Zachary Dashiel, were born on December 3, 2015.
Roomies!, It's Walky!, Shortpacked!, and Joyce & Walky! are each set in the same fictional universe, with many characters appearing in multiple comics. Dumbing of Age shares many of the same characters with the previous titles, however it exists within a separate continuity.
Roomies! is a webcomic by Willis starring the college adventures of two roommates, Danny and Joe. It ran from September 8, 1997 to December 20, 1999. Originally a daily comic published in the Indiana University student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student, it was turned into a web comic in early 1999. It is a mix of daily gag strips and short stories, with the stories drifting towards more serious topics as the comic progressed.
Roomies! was succeeded by It's Walky!, a science fiction adventure comedy comic set in the same universe. The main cast of It's Walky! included some continuing characters from Roomies! — in particular Joyce, Danny's former stalker — and by the end most of the major characters from Roomies! had made appearances.
More recently, after he finished It's Walky!, David Willis restarted Roomies! as a daily gag strip, appearing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was also published as part of the Keenspot comic page in the Turlock, California newspaper, the Turlock Journal. Roomies! ended again on May 19, 2005, when David Willis left Keenspot to found Blank Label Comics.
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It's Walky! was a daily webcomic by Willis. It concerned the adventures of the fictional alien-fighting organization SEMME, and in particular current and previous members of Squad 128. The webcomic is a character-driven story, which has a very strong continuity, and It's Walky! has both comedic and dramatic moments. Though set in the present day, the alien elements and advanced technology involved brought science-fiction elements to the webcomic. The comic strip could (and often did) go from theological discussion to toilet humor within the same week.
It's Walky! was the direct continuation of Roomies!. The debut of It's Walky! is considered to have happened on December 25, 1999, but the switch between the two wasn't instantaneous; science fiction elements had crept into the college environment of Roomies! long before, and the webcomic featured storylines from both for a while. A few characters from Roomies! became main characters in It's Walky!, and the remaining protagonists later made it into the cast as secondary characters.
It's Walky was followed by Shortpacked!, which was part of the same continuity but with an entirely different focus: the daily lives of a toy store's employees, including (oddly) SEMME veterans Mike and Robin. Donation-based It's Walky! epilogue strips ($100 for each strip) run by popular demand eventually led into and were replaced by a direct sequel called Joyce & Walky!, which started on August 1, 2005 and ended on May 17, 2015, and was subscription only. In the meantime, Willis had left Keenspot on May 19, 2005, to found Blank Label Comics.
In 2015, Willis and his wife launched It's Pregnancy!, a Tumblr comic about the birth of Joyce and Walky's son, in concert with the Willis couple's pregnancy.
Shortpacked! is a webcomic by Willis set in a toy store. It is part of the Blank Label Comics family. After putting an end to his successful webcomic It's Walky!, Willis decided to turn Shortpacked!, his autobiographical comic, into a new title. Premiering on January 17, 2005, the strip is based in the same universe as It's Walky! and Roomies!, and features two side characters from the previous comic, Robin and Mike. The primary inspiration behind Shortpacked was Willis' own experiences working retail at Toys "R" Us.
While Shortpacked! started off as primarily a gag strip, with little overarching plot, it has begun to develop plot driven story arcs and complex characters while still alternating with gag strips. The comic also often includes strips that take place outside of the regular setting and continuity, in particular one-shots lampooning pop-culture and comic figures such as Batman or Transformers.
Shortpacked! has also lampooned mainstream comic strips such as Luann and Funky Winkerbean. Shortpacked! showed 16-year-old Luann bragging about having large breasts and even depicted Luann giving the middle finger to Blondie. The parody of Funky Winkerbean showed Les Moore and his girlfriend Cayla Williams (the two got married in Willis' strip) having sex while a ghostly Lisa Moore (Les' late wife, who died in 2007 from cancer) watched over them in approval, and in another panel, the resulting baby, who looked like Lisa, was ghostly in appearance.
A Shortpacked! strip also appeared weekly on Toy News International, for 250 installments from August 20, 2006 until July 31, 2011.
On January 17, 2014, the series' ninth anniversary, Willis announced that he planned to conclude the Shortpacked! storyline over the following year, and would cease regular updates to the comic upon its tenth anniversary. Shortpacked! accordingly ceased regular updates on January 17, 2015.
Dumbing of Age
David Willis announced at AnimeFest 2010 that his newest project is titled Dumbing of Age, a return to the setting of the original Roomies! comic, Indiana University, with a melange of characters from Roomies!, It's Walky!, and Shortpacked!. The strip debuted September 10, 2010, and updates daily. The series is a reboot using older characters but in a newer universe. The setting and plot of Dumbing of Age are quite different from most of Willis's previous comics, though the characters return with mostly identical personalities and similar histories up to the end of their high school years. Dumbing of Age even features many references to It's Walky! and Shortpacked! by featuring the story of Head Alien and Monkey Master as an independent comic and cable series of which the characters Walky, Dorothy, and Joyce are fans. As of March 2015, Dumbing of Age is Willis's most popular webcomic, with a readership that is around three times that of Shortpacked!, at around 220,000 page views a day.
A sample of Willis's other projects include:
- Coloring T Campbell and John Waltrip's spy-romance comic Rip and Teri
- Drawing the last part of the original run of T Campbell and John Waltrip's Fans
- Recordicons, a comic series distributed as part of Fun Publications' Transformers Collector's Club magazine, based on the "Shattered Glass" versions of Ravage and the other Decepticon cassettes.
- Pagan, Louis (23 February 2007). "David Willis Interview". Pagan Pedagogics. Silver Bullet Comics. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 9, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
- David Willis' ItsWalky userpage on the Transformers Wiki
- Willis' resume of official Transformers work on the Transformers Wiki
- Shortpacked! strip and archives
- 08 - The Cartoonist Proposes. Accessed 10/28/12.
- A link to the proposal comic and Maggie's posted response, on the Shortpacked! blog
- the first page of the program on the Shortpacked! website
- Tweet announcing their birth
- ComicMix interview with David Willis Retrieved 2011-03-09
- Shortpacked.com Luann strip Retrieved 2010-11-28
- Shortpacked.com "Funkycreepycreepy" strip Retrieved 2010-11-28
- "This is totally babies, Why Shortpacked! is ending". Itswalky.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
- Shortpacked! Panel - AnimeFest 2010 on Vimeo
- Dumbing of Age
- 'Roomies' Webcomic Creator Heads Back to College in 'Dumbing of Age' @ ComicsAlliance
- A page from a Dexter and Monkey Master print book.