|March 25 2001 update: The Bench seems to be basically dead as far as I can tell, alas. A couple months ago Tycho passed the baton to Rossman who's been working to get it back up, but so far it's down more often than not, and the archives have all been renumbered, and it's just not the same any more.
2003-07-21 Thanks to Max Abrahams who emailed me this URL for Rossman's bench archive
In early March 2000 I got sucked into the time sink known as The Bench. The Bench is a "community comic strip" or "open source comic" (i.e. anyone can submit strips) that's a fun excuse for messing with silly computer art. The basic idea is there's a guy (Gabe from Penny Arcade) and a squirrel on a bench; do whatever you want with that. The Bench strips vary widely in quality, and often contain obscure references or meta humor referring back to earlier strips. I enjoy it a lot. The Bench really got me motivated to start doing computer art and comics and learn to use the open source Gimp art tool.
In case it's not obvious, the art in most Bench strips (mine and others') is clipped (and sometimes heavily mutated) from previous Penny Arcade and Bench strips. As I made more and more of these, I started putting in more and more of my own art, especially with the popular Watchmen strips. If you are only interested in seeing my all-russ-art strips, start with June 1, but you'll be missing some funny stuff. :)
My earliest Bench strips were created very ad hoc. I liked the idea of the community comic strip. It looked like fun, so I thought I'd make a strip or two. Little did I realize the time consuming obsession it would become! I've been having great fun learning lots about making art on the computer. I had virtually no experience using the Gimp art tool, so initially I was doing a lot of things very primitively and labor-intensively. I was also naively working with all art in the final size rather than larger size and then shrinking down. (This was partly because I was simply clipping components from earlier strips, since I'd not yet discovered the "kit" of hi-res Gabe, squirrel, and bench art. I think the Painter or Flash files were readable by Gimp, I forget which now, having long ago converted them to gimp's xcf format!)
These days, Tycho updates the Bench every Saturday night. So if you submit a Bench strip, don't expect to see it go up until late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
This is the quick list of all my Bench strips with their submission numbers. (Each strip is less than 80k.) I started dating them for the keenspace archives one a day from March 6 just because March 6 is when I submitted my first strips. Many of these are in a smaller sharper gif format instead of the original Bench jpg version. You can also get at all my strips in their original Bench versions here at The Bench.
623 Titus Andronicus reference (see current film "Titus")
634 Fight Club finale
643 Titanic Lite
712 Red Meat's Milk Man Dan pays a visit
713 The Graduate
737 Eighth and final rule of Fight Club
768 this modern world brings penguin confusion
797 Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."
891 Hanging out with Titus Andronicus
909 the obligatory Cthulhu "New haircut?" strip
911 The Call of Cthulhu
925 pink eye
945 Gabe took his vorpal sword in hand
968 Cheshire squirrel
977 the awesome power of the caterpillar's hookah
981 Tweedledum and Tweedledee
996 What is it like to be a squirrel? Switch bodies and find out.
1003 Did you just feel a bump?
1006 Gabe becomes one with the bench and gets mystic insight
1021 Help! I've fallen and I can't get up.
1055 Squirrel is really sick of all the Richard Gere jokes
1087 Gabe has a crush on Candy Angel
1102 Gabe starts taking hatha yoga classes
1124 lovestruck Gabe dreams of Candy Angel
1127 Gabe and squirrel discuss various yoga poses
1160 Gabe does yoga on the grass on a wonderful warm sunny day...
1184 Gabe chats with Cthulhu about yoga
1204 reasons to take yoga class
1218 yoga party
1247 Aren't there yogi bears "outside"?
1262 oh no, another of those obscure Titus Andronicus references
1292 the return of Radiskull and Devil Doll (joesparks.shockwave.com)
1333 Gabe philosophizes about free will
1336 sentimental congratulations to a friend who's a new parent...
1391 geekly musings
1415 art critics
1457 Watchmen I (I hope there are some Alan Moore fans out there...)
1458 Watchmen I 1
1459 Watchmen I 12
1460 Watchmen I 22
1461 Watchmen I 25
1477 our heroes go hear some live goth music
1517 a squirrel named Roy (thanks to fubuki's 1270 for sparking the idea)
1553 Nite Squirrel complains: Rorschach Ain't Right...
1568 Watchmen II
1569 Watchmen II 3
1570 Watchmen II 18
1571 Watchmen II 24
1572 Watchmen II 27
1662 Gabe is disturbed by a Salvador Dali dream
1690 The next chapter in the UF-PA war
1715 a bold new idea in comic panel layout
1727 the downward spiral
1738 Watchmen III
1739 Watchmen III 19
1741 Watchmen III 24
1742 Watchmen III 25
1743 Watchmen III 28
1902 Watchmen IV
1903 Watchmen IV 7-8
1904 Watchmen IV 9
1905 Watchmen IV 13
1906 Watchmen IV 22
1934 choose your own monkey adventure!
1980 Gabe ponders a deep philosophical question concerning omnipotence
1981 Augh! Change back!
1982 Even with all the time in the world...
1983 Power corrupts
1984 Gabe's revenge
1985 The end of this little rhapsody in blue
2058 This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
2082 Oh no, not another inexplicable Titus Andronicus reference!
2111 Could they be The Ones?
2137 Watchmen V
2138 Watchmen V 13
2139 Watchmen V 17
2140 Watchmen V 19
2141 Watchmen V 25-27
2142 Rorschach: everything balances. 25-27
2215 There must be an evolutionary reason for it...
2228 American Psycho