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The Far Side of the World Wide Web
June 23, 2013 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Is Doctor Fun the oldest comic on the Internet?
No. That would be "Where the Buffalo Roam" by Hans Bjordahl. "Where the Buffalo Roam" started in 1991, and had its own Usenet group long before Doctor Fun came along, and is still running on the web.

Was Doctor Fun the first cartoon on the World Wide Web?
There you go! You've got it - Doctor Fun was the first cartoon on the World Wide Web.

[via]
posted by not_on_display (31 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, you're slashdotting ibiblio! That's impressive.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:42 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The third sentence of the wiki article states

Witches and Stitches was published earlier, in 1985, on CompuServe.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:51 PM on June 23, 2013


vestis virrum metafilter.
posted by michaelh at 9:55 PM on June 23, 2013


I thought Goats was the first webcomic? Am I totally out to lunch?
posted by Canageek at 10:02 PM on June 23, 2013


Goats? Naah, that only started in 1997, while to pull a random example out of my ass, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan has been online since 1994 and was probably the first Dutch webcomic.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:26 PM on June 23, 2013


drjimmy11, you're missing the distinction between an "online" comic, a comic "on the internet", and one "one the World Wide Web". Witches and Stitches, like all CompuServe content at the time, wasn't accessible to the internet (or even via IP) in 1991 (although CompuServe did start operating an e-mail gateway in 1989, permitting limited exchange between CompuServe users and users on the internet).
posted by RichardP at 10:31 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, but... what was the first syndicated newspaper comic that mentioned the Internet?
posted by eschatfische at 10:36 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


CompuServe content at the time, wasn't accessible to the internet (or even via IP) in 1991

i'm pretty sure that user 40982352353.2564235 posted something once contradicting this
posted by thelonius at 11:28 PM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I randomly clicked on a Dr. Fun comic and it was this. Was it also from the future?
posted by jewzilla at 11:29 PM on June 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yes, but... what was the first syndicated newspaper comic that mentioned the Internet?

I'd be willing to place a small sum on On the Fastrack, considering that it's been syndicated since 1984, and Bill Holbrook was tech savvy enough to start his webcomic Kevin and Kell by 1995.
posted by darksasami at 11:56 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Larry mans the weiner gun.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:25 AM on June 24, 2013


Wow, this takes me back. I wrote a cron job back in the day to download Dr. Fun each night and mail it around the office (so we wouldn't all have to download the image over the shared internet connection).

I think it also downloaded Dilbert and the New York Times News Fax.
posted by hattifattener at 12:48 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I randomly clicked on a Dr. Fun comic and it was this. Was it also from the future?

The whole NSA eavesdropping kerfuffle first broke in early 2006, well before this cartoon's publishing date.
posted by NoMich at 4:05 AM on June 24, 2013


This really does take me back to the days of, "Hey, I finally got Trumpet Winsock to work with my SLIP connection, what can I download that will look good on my SVGA card?"
posted by Rhomboid at 4:59 AM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


The internet was such a different place back then.
posted by JHarris at 5:08 AM on June 24, 2013


I bet that Doctor Fun guy joined metafilter and then never posted anything.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:33 AM on June 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


The internet was such a different place back then.

What is it? Dr. fun, the sarcastic weapon was an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Not like todays YouTube - blasting its way willy-nilly.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:38 AM on June 24, 2013


The more things change...
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:48 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be willing to place a small sum on On the Fastrack, considering that it's been syndicated since 1984, and Bill Holbrook was tech savvy enough to start his webcomic Kevin and Kell by 1995.

Okay, and what was the first comic that mentioned the internet and wasn't made by a terrible hack?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:55 AM on June 24, 2013


Bill Amend? I remember he had a Foxtrot webpage in the mid-nineties where he distributed a SlugMan game that ran on MacOS 7 or 8.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:04 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slap*Happy, don't be ridiculous. Unix has vanquished one of its competitors: Mac OS no longer exists.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:05 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Witches and Stitches was published earlier, in 1985, on CompuServe.

For those who seem to have forgotten (including the author of the posted article), the Internet ≠ the World Wide Web. CompuServe was an early Internet service that was around well before Tim Berners-Lee and his NeXT brought about the Web.

So, first cartoon on the World Wide Web? Possible, but uncertain. First cartoon on the Internet? Not even close.
posted by fifthrider at 6:41 AM on June 24, 2013


Wait why is Holbrook a hack? His comics could be considered bit anodyne but what's wrong with that?
posted by Wretch729 at 7:02 AM on June 24, 2013


But what was the first comic on Gopher?
posted by lagomorphius at 7:19 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


For those who seem to have forgotten (including the author of the posted article), the Internet ≠ the World Wide Web. CompuServe was an early Internet service that was around well before Tim Berners-Lee and his NeXT brought about the Web.

Wrong.

Compuserve back in '85 did not have internet (well, it was still darpanet IIRC) yet, that could only happen after Al Gore invented the internet (opened it up for commercial use). So first online comic for Witches & Stitches, first internet (and usenet?) comic for Where the Buffalo Roam, first WWW comic for Dr Fun.

Which all goes to so that the answer to the simple question of what was the first webcomic is not so simple and depends on your definitions.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:27 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holbrook makes boring, unfunny comics and the predator-prey dynamic between sentient beings in Kevin and Kell is incredibly creepy. Like, vore fetishist creepy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:40 AM on June 24, 2013


First JavaScript-Navigable Comic ("Jax & Co.") or First Completely Indecipherable Web Comic ("Net Boy")

Jax & Co already had a redirect set up in 1999, but I think this is the original site with navigation. (NS 3.0+, IE4.0)

Net Boy was still kicking until 2010-ish and was written up in People Magazine for some reason in 1995. (oldest, newest)

Thanks for this, fun post.
posted by jessamyn at 7:40 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love delving into web history
posted by sp160n at 7:43 AM on June 24, 2013


Keep in mind the web wasn't the quite the big deal it soon became when Doctor Fun went live, and it also ran on Usenet for many years. The way SunSITE (now ibiblio) was set up, without any extra work the cartoons were available through Gopher and (I think) anon FTP. The web thing was one of many delivery options for Doctor Fun, although it eventually became the only one.
posted by lagomorphius at 7:50 AM on June 24, 2013


What was the first gopher to make a comment about web comics in the local newspaper classified?
posted by davejay at 10:11 AM on June 24, 2013


CompuServe was an early Internet service

*spit-take*

Oh, would that it were. No, CompuServe was definitely NOT "on the Internet", it was an independent nationwide BBS like QuantumLink (which eventually became AOL) or Prodigy. They did open up their e-mail system to the Internet in 1989, which was, yes, prior to the invention of the web.

I mostly think these hair-splitting arguments are a waste of time, as who really cares who was "first" except htat it was an incredible effort to set something up and then for the users to access it. But it does matter in some sense because walled garden systems like CompuServe were certainly not accessible to anyone but CompuServe subscribers, whereas gopher and the web were available to anyone whose system -- free or walled -- could access those services.
posted by dhartung at 5:53 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


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