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Working Daze is a comic strip written by John Zakour It was co-created with Andre Noel in the late 1990s, and first appeared under the title "Modern Daze" on intranetjournal.co. Picked up by United Media, it began its run under the current title on December 17, 2001. Noel left in 2003, and Kyle Miller replaced him starting April 20 of that year, drawing the strip until June 14, 2008. Many new characters were introduced during Miller's time on the strip and readership increased. Scott Roberts took over on June 16, 2008 and continues to draw it today. All three artists delivered different, personal styles to the comic.
Working Daze centers around the working relationships of a group of mostly geeks who work for MacroMicroMedia, a giant, impersonal software company.
Working Daze: Managers and other unnatural disasters (2005, Metropolis Ink/End Table Books) ISBN 978-0-9751264-5-5
The Andre Noel strips: Working Daze appears six days a week, in color online, and in B&W in a handful of newspapers. The characters were inspired by real prototypes the creators knew in the workaday world. Jay is a stand in for writer John Zakour, although he does not physically resemble him. Artist and co-creator Andre Noel was the inspiration for the character of Andrew. The rest of the cast included Rita, the manager- Ed, the overpaid goof-off- Dana, the overworked assistant- Sue, the harried tech writer- Sal, the clueless incompetent- and Roy, the consummate geek. Roy and Dana were minor characters at first but grew to be the most popular. The feature was originally titled Modern Daze, and appeared on a single website. The title was changed when United Media picked it up. At first it was a single panel gag with a caption beneath. During Noel's run, it changed format to employ word balloons, freeing it to have two or more panels as needed. It fell more in line with the traditional definition of a comic strip, although it retained its original dimensions. Noel experimented with different methods of coloring the strip, initially going for a hand colored look. Later on, brighter, flatter colors were used, indicating that it was being computer colored. The art was fairly detailed, with a good deal of emphasis on backgrounds. The offices seemed to be located in a large city high rise, probably an older building. The style was closer to New Yorker cartoons than to newspaper strips. Noel left after a year and a half on the feature.
The Kyle Miller strips: Rather than seek an artist who would mimic Noel's style, Zakour went with Kyle Miller, who brought a whole new look to the strip. Miller's style was clean and spare, more cartoony, and the characters were redesigned to reflect that look. Several new characters made their debut during Miller's time, including Carolina, the brightest and sexiest worker, smarter than all the guys and too smart to fall for their clumsy advances- Kathy, Roy's girlfriend, almost as geeky but with one foot still in the real world- and Medusa, the Gorgon receptionist. Her ability to turn workers to stone appears to be selective, and based upon who bugs her the most. Miller used backgrounds sparingly, often they were only dashes of color. Some readers resisted the change at first, but in time many new readers came on board, and Miller was embraced as a full partner, his style as the true look of the strip. He stayed on much longer, ending a five year run in 2008. Consequently, his departure came as an upset to many readers, who were even less willing to accept the change than when he came on. Zakour announced the change well in advance of the actual event, but many were caught by surprise. Miller is a video game designer, and left to concentrate more time on that work.
The Scott Roberts strips: Roberts had been working with Zakour since they were both a part of the Rugrats comic strip, and contributors to Nickelodeon Magazine. Zakour was hired to write gags for the Rugrats in its final year. Roberts had been writing gags and drawing the feature for five years, originally rotating with other artists and later providing all the penciling. Zakour and Roberts also collaborated on some comic stories for Nick Mag. After the strip folded, they started seeking other projects they could work on together, and peddled a strip that failed to sell. All this laid the groundwork for Zakour asking Roberts to become the new Working Daze artist. Even so, there was a great deal of resistance on the part of longtime readers. Once again, no effort was made to continue the established look. As negative reactions came in, Roberts altered and experimented, trying to find an approach that suited his own view of the characters. But new readers continued to come on board, and the newest were not familiar with the Miller or Noel strips. These readers accepted the Roberts style as the look of the strip. Roberts drew the characters with more attention to anatomic reality, but still cartoony and caricatured, and put far more emphasis on backgrounds. By now it was clear that the company had relocated to an office park somewhere in the suburbs. A key change came in his second year, with use of photo backgrounds. This consists usually of scenes outside the windows of the office, but it can also include outdoor settings, props and set pieces, or images on computer screens. This multi media approach met with a mixed reaction, some readers disturbed by it, others embracing it. The comments on the comics.com website increased. The gags occasionally touched upon real issues of the workplace or the economy. Sometimes older gags were dusted off, and reworked by Roberts in the new style. These were never meant to be improvements, but simply, a fresh way to look at the same idea. Roberts continues as the artist, and occasionally contributes to the writing as well. Zakour and Roberts have also launched collaborative efforts on the Zuda site.