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Straub at the 2018 PAX West
|Other names||Kristofer Straub|
|Education||UCLA Alumni, Computer Science|
|Occupation||Cartoonist, graphic designer, story writer|
|Known for||Creator of Starslip, Checkerboard Nightmare, Chainsawsuit, Broodhollow, Local58 and F Chords|
Kristofer "Kris" Straub is a webcartoonist and the creator of Checkerboard Nightmare, Starslip, Chainsawsuit, Broodhollow, and F Chords. He is also a co-founder of webcomics collectives Blank Label Comics and Halfpixel. Straub and Scott Kurtz have co-created the animated series Blamimation with Kris and Scott, and the live-action comedy webseries Kris and Scott's Scott and Kris Show for Penny Arcade's PATV.
He currently hosts the podcast 28 Plays Later alongside Paul Verhoeven. Straub also manages and writes for the horror fiction site Ichor Falls, which is notable for the creepypasta Candle Cove, and creates YouTube videos for his horror anthology channel, Local 58.
Straub grew up in Los Angeles, and went on to attend and graduate from UCLA with a degree in Computer Science.
As a cartoonist
Straub launched his first comic, Checkerboard Nightmare, online in 2000. The strip was self-aware, using metahumour extensively, and the title character, Checkerboard Nightmare (Chex) being obsessed with gaining fame as a webcomic character and willing to do anything necessary to achieve it. The setup of the strip does not change beyond 'Chex wants new readers and concocts a hare-brained scheme to get them', satirising the strict adherence to format exhibited by, for example, sitcoms. Its targets expanded as the strip progressed, and shifted from satirising webcomics to the search for fame in general with the move to Keenspot. Checkerboard Nightmare was originally hosted independently, it moved to Keenspot for a time, before becoming one of the founding comics of Blank Label Comics. During 2006, it appeared monthly on the webcomic news site Comixpedia.
In 2005, Straub began creating Starslip, a daily science fiction/comedy webcomic. Starslip Crisis was first set in the 3440s, aboard the starship IDS Fuseli, named after painter Henry Fuseli. The Fuseli was a former luxury warship which has been converted into a starship museum. It is still capable of military activities. The Fuseli travelled from system to system with its exhibits (using a faster than light "starslip drive"), the comic chronicling the adventures of the crew. Much of the art featured upon the Fuseli dated from the 20th or 21st centuries. Starslip Crisis was part of the webcomics cooperation collective Blank Label Comics, until Straub split away from Blank Label to merge Starslip with his new collective, Halfpixel, in November 2007.
The comic initially ran under the name Starshift Crisis. The nearly identical Starslip Crisis appeared early in the strip's run, with its own website and associated content, differing only in that the term "starslip" replaced "starshift". The two ran in parallel, until a strip in August 2005 which definitively ended the plot of Starshift Crisis, but which played out differently in Starslip Crisis. Reportedly the name change was caused by a legal issue. On January 12, 2009, Straub rebooted the artwork and modified the name of the strip after a storyline where the Fuseli, the ship the comic is set on, escapes from a Universe destroyed by the Future. The series officially finished on June 15, 2012
chainsawsuit, formerly titled indie comic by kris straub, was launched in March 2008 as a parody of badly drawn gag-a-day strips. Straub soon renamed the comic after one of its recurring characters so that it could expand beyond mocking indie comics. It ran for a few months on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, then began to update every weekday starting in August 2008. Its topics range from current events to pop culture. Recurring characters include Chainsawsuit, a man with a series of chainsaws strapped to his body for self-defense against zombies; Famous Chef, a caricature of Gordon Ramsay; Lazy Cat, an ultraviolent send-up of Garfield; Two Cops, a police officer who was accidentally enrolled in the academy twice and is regarded by all characters as two separate people; H. P. Wuvcraft, a cuddlier version of Lovecraft; master pickup artist Huntyr Chase; and Straub himself, who appears in some autobiographical comics.
2008 also saw the launch of F Chords which ran from July 29, 2008 to December 5 of the same year, ending along with its first story arc. Its main characters—Ash and Wade, two Austin-area studio musicians who also play in an unknown local band named "Soft Operation"—have gone on to make cameo appearances in both Starslip and chainsawsuit. In May 2011, F Chords was relaunched as a daily comic. Its setting has been relocated to Los Angeles, and follows Ash and Wade's continued efforts to popularize their band.
On September 26, 2012, Straub launched Broodhollow, a series set in a 1930s American town of the same name. It involves "all manner of ghost" and is somewhat based on Straub's own superstitions and fears of the paranormal. The series opens with Zane, a door-to-door salesperson for Encyclopedia Atlantica, traveling to Broodhollow after being notified that a distant relative had died months earlier. Broodhollow is a sister town of Ichor Falls.
Writer and producer
In December 2006, Straub was named co-writer and co-producer alongside Scott Kurtz on PvP: The Series, a series of animated shorts featuring the PvP characters. In 2007, to coincide with his move to Dallas, Straub repurposed the Halfpixel site to serve as a hub for his and Kurtz's joint creative projects. Halfpixel later expanded to include webcartoonists Brad Guigar and Dave Kellett of the comics Evil Inc. and Sheldon, respectively. The four published How To Make Webcomics through Image Comics in the first quarter of 2008. The book covers a variety of topics of interest for beginning and intermediate webcartoonists.
Straub went on to co-produced Blamimation and the Kris and Scott’s Scott and Kris Show for Penny Arcade TV. In 2012, ShiftyLook announced that Straub and Kurtz were co-producing a new animated web series, Mappy: The Beat, in which they also voice all the characters. The series premiered in July 2013 and aired for 13 episodes.
Straub manages and writes for his own horror fiction website Ichor Falls, which features his most notable work of short fiction, Candle Cove. Straub's original short story is in the form of a series of forum posts by people reminiscing about a children's show called Candle Cove. Although it seems at first to be a normal children's program, they gradually recall disturbing aspects of the program and a bizarre episode in particular, before discovering that Candle Cove was merely half an hour of TV static which the children believed was a program.
Many people continue the meme by either posting details about the show or uploading videos to YouTube of static and claiming that they can see an episode of Candle Cove, with some users of YouTube even recreating the final episode.
Candle Cove was adapted as the first season for the SyFy Channel series Channel Zero in 2016.
Straub's YouTube channel features several short horror videos, presented as broadcasts from a fictional public TV station, "Local 58 (WCLV-TV)". The broadcasts include found footage, public service announcements, and emergency alerts. Videos include:
- You Are On The Fastest Available Route (2017): A driver's GPS navigation leads them to an uncertain destination.
- Contingency (2017): A PSA from the US government 'accidentally' airs, instructing the populace on what to do in case of enemy occupation.
- Weather Service (2017): A series of weather alerts conceal a more sinister event.
- Show For Children (2018): A cartoon from 1929, featuring "Cadavre" the skeleton, has morbid themes.
- Real Sleep (2018): An instructional video teaches viewers how to achieve a dreamless sleep.
WCLV-TV is shown to broadcast in the towns of Ichor Falls and Broodhollow, a reference to Straub's other horror works.
Straub has co-hosted numerous podcasts throughout his career, most of which center around the online comic industry, daily life, or comedy talk shows.
In 2005, while part of the comic collective Blank Label Comics, Straub and Dave Kellett co-hosted the Blank Label Comics Podcast. The podcast interviewed fellow webcomic creators about their comics and creative process.
In 2007, leading up to the release of How To Make Webcomics, Straub - alongside the books co-authors, Scott Kurtz, Brad Guigar, and Dave Kellett - produced the podcast Webcomics Weekly. The show featured comic industry news, techniques and general advice on how to create and maintain a successful comic online. In this same time period, Straub and Kurtz also produced two joint podcasts, The Kris and Scott Power Hour and Daily Affirmation.
From 2009 to 2012, Straub also hosted comedy internet radio talk show Tweet Me Harder with David Malki. The show was recorded live and had the hosts interact with a Twitter feed of listeners' reactions to the broadcast, occasionally using comments as a springboard for their conversations. Following Tweet Me Harder, Straub then co-hosted Chainsawsuit: The Podcast with Mikey Neumann. The show began in April 2013 and spanned to December 2014 and included contents such as comedic sketches, satire, movie reviews, and general discussion. Beginning in January 2015, Straub and Neumann began hosting Morning Rush. This show contained content similar to Chainsawsuit: The Podcast, but with the general framework of a morning radio show. This show was short-lived, ending in June 2015 after 16 episodes. Straub's ongoing podcast 28 Plays Later began in March 2015, briefly running concurrently with Morning Rush.
In 2016, from July to December, Straub co-hosted horror podcast Scared Yet? with cartoonist Abby Howard. It lasted 6 episodes, with Straub and Howard discussing horror storytelling, writing advice, personal favorite horror stories, as well as personal experiences with writing horror.
- "Killing Time with Kristofer Straub, Part 1". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- http://www.starslip.com/concepts.shtml[permanent dead link]
- Kris Straub (2005-05-24). "Starslip – Tuesday, May 24, 2005". Archived from the original on July 24, 2009. Retrieved 2008-02-08. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Kris Straub (2005-11-16). "Starslip – Wednesday, November 16, 2005". Archived from the original on May 14, 2009. Retrieved 2008-02-08. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Blank Label Comics is Formed". Editor & Publisher. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "Three Cartoonists Leave Blank Label Comics to Form New Halfpixel". Halfpixel. 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2008-02-08.[permanent dead link]
- "Starshift Crisis Changes Its Name?". Comixtalk. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- Drawn.ca review of How To Make Webcomics
- "ShiftyLook Announces First 2 Animated Series". icv2. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- Candle Cove Archived 2012-12-03 at the Wayback Machine, Kris Straub
- "Blank Label Comics Launches Podcast". Digital Strips. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- Webcomics Weekly Archived 2013-05-01 at the Wayback Machine
- "The Kris and Scott Power Hour - Live & Recorded Episodes".
- "Daily Affirmation with Scott and Kris - Live & Recorded Episodes".
- "Chainsawsuit: The Podcast".
- "Morning Rush with Kris and Mikey".
- "Scared Yet? - The Podcast".