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About the S.O.N.A.I.S. Webcomic

This page will be updated as the comic evolves, but here's something to begin with.

What's It About

S.O.N.A.I.S. is a quite geeky comic about a small start-up company specialised in A.I. related solutions. This is just a setting I am somewhat familiar with, to have something to work with—don't expect endless in-deep discussions about A.I. development, the topics will be much more varied.
The comic is meant to be funny(1), adventurous, and sometimes even maybe mildly critical about certain things. Opinions expressed by the characters may or may not correspond to the author's. In the end, the main goal is to have some fun. Don't take this too seriously.

I will add a short overview of the characters in due time. At the moment, your best option to learn to know them is to start reading from the first strip, there aren't that many yet.

(1): disclaimer: degree of funniness may depend on how much of a geek/nerd the reader is.

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PAQ: Possibly Asked Questions

What's the schedule?

The current plan is to publish 2 strips each week, one on Tuesday and one on Friday. Publish time is around noon (12:00h) in Europe/Brussels timezone, with DST offset when it is in effect.
No guarantees. There may be interruptions, and I may decide to cut it down to 1 comic a week, or who knows, perhaps up it to 3, but we'll see. There may be breaks, and extras outside of the regular schedule on special occasions.
As for how long I'll keep this up in the long term, there is no plan to stop at any specific point.

Why this comic?

It's quite simple, I make this mostly for my own sanity. It could be considered therapy, see below. As with practically everything else on this website, I put the result online so others can enjoy it, but that's not really the main goal.
Before I started writing and drawing these strips, I was in an endless spiral of lack of goals to look forward to, and wasting my time on online videos and games. The more I indulged in watching videos, even when many of them were somewhat educative, the more I got the feeling that my brain was rotting away. Then I suddenly got the idea to go back to my roots of drawing comics as I already did from the age of 8 on, but this time tied to everything I have learnt since then. Somehow this has freed me from the spiral of mental meltdown.

What does S.O.N.A.I.S. or SONAIS stand for?

This can be seen in the very first strip: “Solutions for Optimized Novel Artificial Intelligence Systems.” It's the name of the fictive company in which the main characters work. (It is intended to be such an outrageous collection of buzzwords that no real company should consider using it.)

Is this based on something, what are inspirations?

If there is one comic that could be considered the spiritual predecessor of SONAIS, it is User Friendly. The moment I found out that it had disappeared from the internet, was pretty much the moment I got the idea to start my own comic to keep its legacy alive. This does not mean this will be a UF clone though, it will be different.
There are some other influences, like GPF, Hackles, Sequential Art, and perhaps a bit of Dilbert from when it had not yet turned sour. Without any doubt there are also influences from all the comics that every Belgian kid inevitably reads as a kid.

Is there a specific target audience?

Sort of, and the above should already give it away: this comic aims to bring back a bit of the atmosphere of how the internet used to be in its earlier days. I have zero ambitions to force myself to make this comic appealing to current teenagers by chasing trends.
One could say the main target audience for S.O.N.A.I.S. consists of those who have some affinity with IT or are at least a bit nerdy in some other way, and have spent their youth in the last decennia of the 20th century and the first years of the new millennium. This does not mean others can't also enjoy it. As with UF, comics may sometimes refer to technical things, some of which very niche, and some of the jokes may require a bit of research for the uninitiated to understand. However, there will also be story arcs with a more adventurous nature that should appeal to a wide audience.

Is this a family-friendly comic?

That depends on your definition of “family-friendly.” There will be no nudity. There may be some scary things, violence, and depiction of weapons. There may sometimes be strong language. The subject matter will likely not appeal to small children anyhow.

Is there a plan to provide translations?

Not from my part. Translations might be problematic. The very first strip, and the very name of the comic itself, already relies on an English language pun, and more will follow. If nevertheless anyone wants to have a go at a translation in their language, I would welcome it, but please contact me first.

Is any A.I. involved in the creating of this comic that sort of revolves around A.I.?

Ironically, no, none at all. (If you thought this was A.I.-generated because the hands sometimes look weird, it's just because hands are damn hard to draw.) These comics are created in an utterly traditional fashion, with pencils and drawing pens on paper. They are then scanned, and post-processed and shaded in the GIMP. All the ideas and scripts come out of the mushy organic neural networks of my own brain. I may occasionally look up images on the web or set up some 3D models in Blender if I need a reference for drawing something unusual, but otherwise the drawing of these comics is a moment of totally analogue sanctuary in this sometimes annoyingly digital world.

Will there be colour and/or high-resolution strips?

The regular strips are made in greyscale only. It is part of the style—take it or leave it. Colour may appear at special occasions.
For each strip, next to the regular size I do make a high-resolution version, and I may make these available at some point.

What font is being used?

The font is custom. In the spirit of the comic, it was created in the nerdiest of ways, by wrestling FontForge with Potrace (for extra masochism, in Mac OS which tries to make it increasingly painful to run open source apps) and writing a Perl script to manipulate kerning pairs. Because it is based on my own handwriting, for once I will not make this publicly available—at least not for the time being, sorry.

Is it OK to scrape and publish the new strips on an aggregator page?

No. You may detect changes in the main page and announce anywhere you want when a new strip is available, but it should link to the actual official comic page and not display the strip itself.

I have very specific ideas about how a webcomic should be made, can I try to impose them on you?

No. This is my comic, as explained above, it is first and foremost a hobby project that got a bit out of hand, and I do with it what I want. You can either enjoy the ride or just disembark if you don't like it, but please don't bother the driver.

Why don't you include a [insert token minority group here] character in the comic?

See the previous answer. In a nutshell, I firmly believe that such gestures, as well as replacing certain words with others, does absolutely nothing to improve a bad situation. On the contrary, it may give the false impression that enough effort has been spent hence nothing truly substantial needs to be undertaken anymore.
I will introduce characters whenever they fit the story at hand, not because it is trendy. As you may see, the set of characters as it is, is already quite diverse, but the main reason for this is that it offers more ways for interesting interactions between them.

Does this have anything in common with the comics you drew as a kid?

Aside from the fact that things are being drawn on paper, no. Pretty much everything has changed, and I'm pretty sure for the better. More details about how I somehow managed to produce a few finished strips back then, can be found here.

Why isn't my face being stuffed with ads?

Because currently there are none on the comic pages. Putting ads on one's site is increasingly turning into a chore of following regulations and implementing the annoying consent pop-ups. I will see whether this comic becomes popular enough that it makes sense to jump through all those hoops. If not, I'd rather preserve the “old Internet experience” of being able to open a webpage and viewing it without additional fuss.
If you appreciate the lack of ads and you want to support the author, even just a small donation is worth way more than hundreds of ‘ad impressions’ anyhow.

What the heck is RSS? Will you provide a more modern notification for new comics?

RSS is a standard way of obtaining updates from news sources or other websites, and is entirely pull-based. You need an RSS reader, which will fetch the RSS file whenever you see fit or at regular intervals. I'm pretty sure there must be online services that can convert RSS updates into push messages, and many apps on mobile devices that can show notifications about changes in RSS feeds. The reason why I'm currently only providing this as a notification system, is that the publishing scheme of the comics is regular anyhow, and it is a simple system that I already had from when I made the Garfield Sans comic.
I might look into setting up a push message system, but the current number of visitors does not justify spending this kind of effort (of course this may be a catch-22 where a push system might draw more visitors…)

What's Up With the Weird Brand Names?

Most if not all brand names occurring in the comic are ‘transformed’ real-world names. This is both for comical effect, and to avoid copyright issues, by making it obvious that the companies featured in the comic are parodies. Often, the name is deformed such that it sounds similar enough to be recognisable, but sometimes a larger leap is taken that goes beyond mere phonetic mutation.
For reference, here are names that have occurred in the comic universe so far, with the real-world counterparts they hint at.

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