Real Life (webcomic)

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Real Life
Strip from 2005-08-01
Author(s) Greg Dean
Current status / schedule Not updated since 2015
Launch date 1999-11-15[1]
Genre(s) Exaggerated Reality

Real Life is an American webcomic drawn and authored by Greg Dean, begun on November 15, 1999.[2] The comic is loosely based around the lives of fictionalized versions of Dean and his friends, including verbatim conversations, as well as fictional aspects including time travel and mecha combat.[3] Characters regularly break the fourth wall. Real Life focuses on humor related to video games and science fiction, and references internet memes.[4]


Real Life launched in 1999 and became part of Keenspot shortly after. Dean switched to the Blank Label Comics collective in 2005[5] before going solo again in February 2010.[6] The Real Life website is currently self-hosted by Dean. As of May 2017, the webcomic had not been updated since December 10, 2015.

Year one of Real Life was published as a paperback by Starline Multimedia Inc. in 2004,[7] and a second book published by Lulu was released in 2008. A German translation of some portions of the webcomic has been made available on the website's archive.


  • Greg (Gregory David Dean[8]) - The main character of the strip, and a fictional representation of the author of the comic. Tends to be a bit of a wingnut at times, and tends to act before he thinks things through; however, his actions are primarily a product of a naïveté. Greg seems to constantly switch roles between being the voice of reason and the voice in need of reason. He is also very fond of Pepsi cola, to the point of addiction, going so far as to import Mexican Pepsi because it contains real sugar instead of corn syrup. Greg sometimes appears as his not-so-secret alter ego the Shirt Ninja, speaking in Japanese and carrying his own subtitles. He used to work as a fuel jock at a small airport, but has recently graduated from culinary school. He previously lived in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, both CA, but moved to San Francisco - and moved again to Lockhart, TX,[9] but recently moved back to the California Area, where he is once again roommates with Dave and Tony.
  • Elizabeth "Liz" Dean (née Van Buskirk) - Greg's wife, and an avid cosplayer; most of the strips have her acting as straight man in contrast to Greg's antics. She started out as "Lizzy" to avoid confusion between the "Liz" he had already put in the comic and this new Liz. Eventually, the old Liz was phased out and now the new one is called Liz. She has a fizzy, bubbly personality, and tends to be the only one in the strip with a level head. Liz and Greg married in March 2005.
  • Tony Flansaas - The comic's resident evil overlord. Has made many attempts over the course of the comic's existence to take over the world, and has even succeeded a couple of times. Think of any technological achievement made in the past two years, and even a number that won't come around for decades yet—Tony did it 5 years ago, and made it out of bubblegum, spare hard drive parts, and a DivX player too. He's almost like a cross between MacGyver and Dr. Evil. Tony is often the fulcrum on which most of Real Life's more far-fetched story lines revolve. His character is presented in such a way so that the readers start to believe that the real life Tony might just have a BattleMech, dimension-hopping TV remote or a cloning machine lying around the house. His most recent achievement was a space station called "DS-1", which stands for Death Station 1 however, this station was destroyed in late 2008. Since returning to Earth Tony has built an underground lair beneath Greg's home where he once again devotes full-time to inventions, having produced a working replica TARDIS and hopes to complete a fully functional USS Enterprise in the not-too-distant future.
  • Dave Reynolds - Resident powergamer and supernerd. Play him in Quake III Arena and he'll own you, no questions asked. While the real Dave's currently in the Navy, that doesn't stop him from showing up and adding some of his cynical, nerdy point of view to a strip. Dave rivals Tony in technical ability. However, whereas Tony seems to be a genius in all subjects, Dave's genius seems to lie mostly in computers. In one of the earlier comic strips, Dave upgraded his computer into a sentient being. The computer, PAL, went on to become a minor character in the strip, and was joined over time by several other technologically improved computers and consoles. His iPod apparently holds every Backstreet Boys album made.
  • Crystal - Greg's girlfriend when the strip started, but they broke up in 2001. She is no longer mentioned or appears in the strip, but was an integral part of the first year of the strip. She ended up with a supercomputer that was infected by an evil AI version of Tony.
  • The Cartoonist - Cartoonist Greg doesn't appear all that often, but when he does, he's usually an omnipotent force screwing with the lives of his cartoon creations. He also appears in the strip to make an announcement, to answer questions that readers occasionally send him or to complain about a possible lack of ideas for the strip. His appearance is differentiated from Comic Greg by a change of colours (light brown overshirt, black tee with white stripes), and slightly shaggy hair. He sometimes appears with a goatee. On September 22, 2006, The Cartoonist appeared during a series of comics taking place in the "real" world. During this time, his appearance was that of the author, Greg Dean or Real Greg as he is referred by the comic fans, using a combination of digital pictures and drawn comic characters. This storyline also led to the change of character wardrobe; as Cartoonist Greg was wearing a red sweater and blue shirt when Tony 'visited' him, that's what Real Life Greg wore for a time before the move to Lockhart - a sweater/shirt combo didn't go down too well in the searing Texan heat, so he's switched back to his open shirt/tee and shorts get-up.
  • Harper Dean - a daughter of Greg and Liz. Born in July 29, 2011.[10]


Greg Dean has won the "Outstanding Reality Comic" category of the Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards four times: once in 2001,[11] once in 2003 (when his webcomic tied with Nowhere Girl),[12] once in 2004,[13] and once in 2005 (when his webcomic tied with The Devil's Panties).[14]

Collected editions[edit]


  1. ^ Dean, Greg (1999-11-15). "1". Real Life Comics. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  2. ^ Sjöberg, Lore (2006-09-01). "Real Life Comics, Remixed". Wired. Condé Nast Publications. Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. 
  3. ^ Horton, Steve (2008). Webcomics 2.0: An Insider's Guide to Writing, Drawing, and Promoting Your Own Webcomics. Course Technology. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-59863-682-6. One popular autobiographical webcomic is the appropriately named Real Life, by Greg Dean. 
  4. ^ Delafuente, Anna (2013-09-26). "Geek Parenting: Meet the Deans! (Part 1: Interview with Creator of Real Life Comics, Greg Dean)". Nerdy Minds Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-09-26. 
  5. ^ Guigar, Brad (2005-06-22). "Dave Kellett and Greg Dean Join Blank Label Comics". Comix Talk. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  6. ^ Greg, Dean (2010-02-09). "Blank Label Comics". Real Life Comics. Retrieved 2017-03-16. I have officially tendered my resignation from Blank Label Comics. 
  7. ^ ISBN 0-9746966-2-5
  8. ^ Dean, Greg (2008-08-15). "2055". Real Life Comics. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  9. ^ Dean, Greg (2007-10-22). "Wagons East!". Real Life Comics. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  10. ^ Dean, Greg (2011-06-29). "2856". Real Life Comics. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  11. ^ "2001 Winners and Nominees". Web Caroonists Choice Awards. 2001. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. 
  12. ^ "2003 Ceremony". Web Caroonists Choice Awards. 2003. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. 
  13. ^ "2004 Results". Web Caroonists Choice Awards. 2004. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. 
  14. ^ "2005 Results". Web Caroonists Choice Awards. 2005. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. 

External sources[edit]