From a Cave in the Woods...


The Unofficial Pibgorn Tribute Site


What's What   Who's Who   The Story Arcs   About the Author   Plugs   Miscellany

The unofficial GoComics Style Guide   A long-overdue Thank You   The Confusion Couch

The Confusion Couch Cookbook (Direct link)   The Confusion Couch Email Vault (it's like Jazz - if you have to ask, you won't understand)

Note: Life has gotten in the way of regular updates. Updates will happen at some point. (11-6-2012)

What's what...

Pibgorn is a webcomic drawn by Brooke McEldowney, (also the author of 9 Chickweed Lane) which appears on the Gocomics website.

For additional information on 9 Chickweed Lane, please visit the Unofficial 9 Chickweed Lane Tribute Site.

Contact the Artist

Note: All images located here are copyright Universal UClick and are for illustrative purposes only.

 

It came into existence on United Features Syndicate's Comics.com website in 2002, after an initial three-week run in 2001 called A Fairy Merry Christmas. Originally appearing daily except Sunday, on February 13, 2006 McEldowney announced that he reluctantly needed to cut back to three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, citing the burden of maintaining two comic strips. McEldowney ended his partnership with United Features Syndicate on April 18, 2007 and resumed publishing Pibgorn at GoComics.com on May 14, 2007. On August 1st, 2007, McEldowney began publishing the preliminary sketches for Pibgorn as filler material after each installment. These gave a good insight into his drawing style. On Monday, July 14, 2008 Brooke announced in his blog that he was wanting the story to proceed at a brisker pace, and in spite of time concerns, he was returning to a five day per week schedule. The intermediate sketches were then moved to a page of their own at GoComics.  The Wikipedia article, while very informative in its own right, once contained information and illustrations regarding the characters and the story arcs, but much of this material did not survive Wikipedia's rigorous editing requirements.  For the benefit of those who love this strip, or the merely curious, I present that material here.

 

Disclaimer: This page is a labor of love.  It is authorized by no one. Any complaints about the website should be directed to bitbucket@devnull.com where nobody will ever see them.  If, however, you see something that's inaccurate and needs correction - then write me at ccdesan@gmail.com. I'll correct the error and credit you with the change. All information, images, and characters are copyright by the artist or Universal Uclick, are subject to change, and are presented here for illustrative and educational purposes only.

 

Incidentally, the name is pronounced "PIB-gorn", and not "PIG-born".  A pibgorn is a Welsh reeded hornpipe - we see Maurice playing one here:

 

 

 

If you want more information on the Welsh pibgorn, including hearing one played, go here.

 

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Who's who...

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Pibgorn   Drusilla   Geoff   Oognat   Maurice   Prince Crewth   Gaggot   Luciano  Minor Characters

 

Pibgorn

 

The heroine of the story, Pibgorn is a fairy who would rather be anything else. She began life as a nameless wood sprite, was re-christened "Oola Inch" in an earlier but unpublished strip called "The Titans", and took on her present name in 2001 for her debut in A Fairy Merry Christmas. In her natural state she's beautiful and lithe, with reddish-blond hair and gossamer wings, six inches tall and covered with dappled green skin (yes, folks, that's not a body stocking, fairies and demons for the most part go naked - McEldowney's word is "starkers".) She's curious, passionate, a bit innocent, devoted and somewhat of a rebel at heart.

 

Possessed of the usual variety of fairy magic, she can discharge plasma ("To cast an effective spell, all I really need is good, solid body contact."); wrap those beautiful wings around her body and transform them into all sorts of clothing when the need arises; and use her tool of choice, the baiser de la fée (a fairy's kiss - magic always sounds more impressive in French). With this she can assume human size, shrink others down to her scale, and heal injuries. Magical energy of this nature, however, is not cheap, and she often needs to regenerate in a candle flame or by transforming herself into a tree to photosynthesize.

 

Tiring of fairy work - mostly lugging dewdrops from place to place for hundreds of years (she's currently 471, and old enough to know better, thank you) - she left the fairy world and is now involved in the important work of protecting mankind from a demon-spawned Armageddon.

 

Pibgorn has a former church organist for a lover and a succubus for a best friend and business partner.  How she got from there to here is a romp through time and space, earth and Hell, politicians and lawyers, love, sex, triumph, loss, growth and self-discovery. But don't think this is a soap-opera strip... far from it.  For all its phantasmagoria, McEldowney has created a world of warmth and humanity. People, fairies and demons alike show their best sides and their worst.  You might even see yourself in one of the characters somewhere.

 

Drusilla

 

Drusilla is a succubus. She was introduced to the strip as Geoff's girlfriend, and at the time the author indicated that he had no idea what she would become, but has since developed into one of the strip's three main characters.  Drusilla is around 825 years old1, tall, extremely shapely, with long jet-black hair and covered - usually - in red-dappled skin.  She was sent from Hell, charged with infiltrating a place of worship to see how readily the congregants would capitulate to evil. Unfortunately for her, she fell in love with Geoff, and abandoned her assignment, for which she was later tormented by a demonic game show host in Hell.  As the story developed, however, Pibgorn and Geoff became lovers, and despite being a demon, Drusilla has determined to watch over and protect the couple, and subsequently all of humanity, in the name of her love for Geoff.  For someone so archetypically evil, there is a goodness about her that she can't hide - which makes her very endearing. Oh, and did I mention that she's drop-dead gorgeous?

 

As a succubus, Drusilla does what succubi do - she glories in the passions of the flesh, spends the occasional vacation in Sheol, discharges bolts of plasma with hip-grinding pleasure, revels in her sexiness and misses no opportunity to invade the dreams of hapless men (and other demons) to ravish them in their sleep. Not only does she get a huge kick out of this, but she learns lots of things along the way which are important to the storylines.  She has formed a partnership with Pibgorn to protect mankind from the demons which are massing to unleash Armageddon. Geoff's love for Pibgorn seems to be no barrier to Drusilla's carrying him away for an occasional passionate interlude when the mood strikes her.

 

We have learned somewhat of Drusilla's past - we know she has been Shakespeare's lover and once had a daughter, whom she subsequently lost - but there is much about her that remains to be learned.  Whatever she does, it will be sexy.

 

Geoff

 

Geoff is an Episcopalian church organist - or was, until he became persona non grata in his congregation.  He woefully commented that his parishioners razed his home and sowed the ground with salt, although this may be figurative. If he has a last name, we don't know it. From a stodgy life in an isolated cottage among predictable and boring humans, Geoff has been catapulted into a world of fantasy he never dreamed existed, let alone that he would participate in.

 

Geoff rescued Pibgorn from freezing to death after her wings had iced up on an unauthorized winter solstice flight.  In exchange, she pledged to become his slave for life, which made Geoff rather nervous, given how sticky Episcopalians can be about things like magic and fairies. Initially bumbling through his adventures as an unwilling observer, Geoff has developed a greater understanding of the world of magic, fairies and demons and has begun to appreciate the rôle he plays in helping to save humanity from the forces of darkness.  On occasion, however, the old organist still surfaces, and we often see Geoff with a bemused look on his face that seems to say "How did I get myself into this mess?" Despite finding himself in the most unusual predicaments, he somehow manages to maintain a calm sense of decorum; he is, at heart, a very decent person.

 

He is also a very talented musician. He has superb keyboard skills, including organ, piano and even the accordion.  (Did you know accordion music is the ultimate force against the powers of darkness?) When Geoff cuts loose on the squeeze box, his volume magically boosted by Drusilla, it's a bit more potent than - with all respect to Charles Schulz - "polkas, schottisches and waltzes"  Not only talented, we see that Geoff has a deep understanding of and appreciation for musical history.  At one point he desperately attempts to reconstruct Mozart's "Requiem" from memory...

 

Oognat

 

 

Oognat is the hair fairy.  If you ever wondered where that dratted hair in your mouth came from as you woke up, or found one in your eye, now you know.  Her job is to make life interesting for us mortals.   Normally covered with - you guessed it - hair, she looks somewhat like a cross between a pixie and a satyr.

Oognat began life as a minor character in  the "Internal Fairy Harvesting Service" story arc, but later played an important rôle as Bottom in "A Pibsummer Night's Dream".  Like some of the other characters in Pibgorn, she has passed through the veil of death at least once, only to be magically restored with a thermonuclear baiser de la fée.

 

Maurice

 

 

Maurice is a field mouse, one of three speaking animal characters to be introduced to the strip, and the only one who has played a part of any importance. He is a true friend to Pibgorn, very practical, solid and down-to-earth by nature.  Heartbroken the first time Pibgorn is killed (oops, a spoiler!), he becomes the magical instrument of her restoration to life. Geoff's first kiss from Pibgorn gives him the ability to understand Maurice when he speaks, which comes in rather handy in more than one instance, even though it remains somewhat unsettling to poor Geoff. Maurice appears in several episodes including an important part in "The Borgia Cantus".

 

Prince Crewth

 

 

Prince Crewth is in charge of the fairy realm.  Given his nature, it is surprising that McEldowney didn't draw him with pointy hair, instead of making him look like a cross between a satyr, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.  Crewth works hard at being lazy, capricious, bureaucratic and insensitive, like many politicians of today. He can also be murderous without a shred of conscience.

As well as providing comic relief, he functions as a vehicle for some of McEldowney's opinions of modern leadership, and is not what one would expect for a denizen of the fairy kingdom.  But then, almost nothing in the Pibgorn universe is what you would expect...

Gaggot

Gaggot is Prince Crewth's advisor, doctor, and attorney.  He combines all the worst qualities of a court sycophant and the latter two professions, and while he serves at Crewth's pleasure, we have no doubt that he has only contempt for his sovereign and considers himself to be the true power behind the throne. Gaggot looks somewhat like a wizard, with long gray hair and beard, and thus far we have seen no magical qualities about him.  Top

 

Luciano

 

Luciano is a fly.  A 37-lb housefly, by his own description, at least when he's functioning at Pibgorn's human scale.  He's Prince Crewth's court assassin, and his first assignment was to bore Pibgorn to death by reading her the quarterly financial report.  Unfortunately for Crewth, Luciano falls head over heels in love with Pibgorn and is unable to carry out his assignment.  Luciano played a pivotal rôle in the first episode and has been given a very substantial part in "Lena the Horrible".   Top

 

Minor Characters

 

Henmellyn

 

Henmellyn is Drusilla's daughter. To say more would be to spoil the story for those who wish to read it, although the details are listed in the story arc below.  She is one of McEldowney's most tragic figures.

 

The gang from 9 Chickweed Lane

 

McEldowney allows characters from both his universes to make visits to the other on occasion.  Edda and Solange the cat appear on an overturned mug in "The Internal Fairy Harvesting Service". The "Pibsummer Night's Dream" story arc featured the following cast members:

 

Helena Edda Burber
Demetrius Burkhardt Kriegl
Lysander Seth Appleby
Hermia Isabel Florin
Theseus Thorax
Hippolyta Juliette Burber
Peter Quince Amos van Hoesen

 

Thorax is a unique case, appearing often enough to be considered a main character in Pibgorn, although he originates in 9 Chickweed Lane. We know very little about him other than that he seems to be Not of This World, a "non-linear, omniscient entity and llama cheese mogul". After all, he keeps a quantum anomaly in his garden shed. He can work magic, although he does so via technology. Whereas Drusilla can only with difficulty transform herself into a gateway between two universes, Thorax creates a stable quantum rift using a cigar box, a few nails, a light bulb and other assorted trash. When pressed to reveal the secrets of his knowledge, he demurs, saying "What good is omnipotence if it is nobbled by a knowledge of what it does?"  McEldowney often uses Thorax as a sort of deus ex insanitate, both for comic relief and as a spokesperson for pragmatist and egalitarian viewpoints, although those are poor and oversimplified characterizations of his philosophies.

 

Satori

 

Satori is a computer-generated character from a program called "Suzerain" who appears in "Lena the Horrible." I enumerate her individually here because she's beautiful and complex, brave, passionate and driven. Monomaniacal in her quest to rid her world of its evil queen, she nonetheless is susceptible to love, even that of a 15-year-old2 hypergeek. It's not hard to see why he fell so hard.

 

Roger and Lena Egg, and Igor

 

 

Lena Egg, the eponymous heroine of the episode "Lena the Horrible" is an 8-year-old hellion and succubus-wannabe.  Together with her brother Roger, she becomes involved in a romp through a demonic holo-world, and ends up saving Drusilla from a powerful demon.  Her stuffed bear, Igor, does not escape the action unscathed, being granted the gift of speech as the byproduct of a plasma-laden kiss.

 

Other characters appearing in Pibgorn have included Mozart, Shakespeare (although not implicitly mentioned by name), Orlando Pick, Tom Torquemada - an infernal game-show host, and various other personalities central to their story arcs.  Top

 

The Story Arcs...

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Spoiler Alert!  The following summaries contain most details of the plotlines, including twists and resolutions.  If you'd rather be surprised, skip this section.

 

These capsule summaries were originally posted on Wikipedia, but did not survive the rigorous editing standards. They are reproduced here for your reading pleasure. The episode names were kindly provided by Mr. McEldowney.

 

Please note: These summaries are extremely detailed, perhaps to a fault.  This is the way they will stay, at least for the foreseeable future. If you don't like the way they are written, write your own...

 

(Thanks to 3Xp4t for suggesting the breakout structure.)

 

1. The Girl in the Coffee Cup 03 Dec 2001 - 25 Dec 2001; 11 Mar 2002 - 9 Nov 2002

2. The Poltergeist in the Piano 11-11-2002 - 8-9-2003

3. The Borgia Cantus 8-11-2003 through 1-17-2004

4. Drusilla's Daughter 1-19-2004 through 6-12-2004

5. The Internal Fairy Harvesting Service 10-12-2004 through 3-26-2005

From March to May of 2005, Brooke published the first 20 Pibgorn strips in annotated format

6. Mozart and the Demon Lover 5-23-2005 through 2-8-2006

7. A Pibsummer Night's Dream 2-13-2006 through 3-19-2007

8. Lena the Horrible 3-21-2007 to 3-16-2009

9. Pibgorn and the Volcano on 77th Street and Park Avenue 3-17-2009 to 11-19-2009

10. The Stone Coin 11-23-2009 to 1-20-2010

 

Note: The following arcs will be updated soon (11/6/2012)

11. Pibgorn and the Graveyard Shift 1-21-2010 through 12-17-2010

12. Pibgorn and the Brunch with Death 12-27-2010 through 11-8-2011

13. Mozart and the Demon Lover (Annotated) 11-9-2011 through 9-13-2012

14. Pibgorn and the Djinn of It Beginning 9-18-2012

 

Interludes - Strips appearing outside of storylines by way of filler or explanation.

 

About the Author

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Brooke McEldowney's biography can be found at Wikipedia here, and his official Pibgorn Livejournal is here. He also maintains a blog about 9 Chickweed Lane at the Chickweed Cafe. Beyond what you can read about him in the media, much can be deduced about the man from the worlds that he creates.  He has a great love of the beauty of the human form, and draws a well-turned ankle (and thigh, and waist, and... well, you get the idea) with precision and devotion.  Much of his skill in this area he attributes to having spent much time sketching ballerinas while studying music at Julliard.  His characters can be gut-wrenchingly attractive.  More than this, Mr. McEldowney has a classically-educated mind which is also unfettered by convention. His flights of fancy are difficult to describe without experiencing them, but fortunately his work is available on the web, and in the case of Pibgorn, in two hard-bound collections - The Girl in the Coffee Cup and Pibgorn Rep: A Midsummer Night's Dream, both of which are available by writing to pibpress@verizon.net.

 

Until the man writes his autobiography, or publishes an annotated anthology of his work, it is senseless to say "Brooke thinks this or that." However, based on the dialog he writes for his characters, as well as the contents of his various blog postings and emails to fans, it's fair to extrapolate a few points about the world that Brooke would create were he King of the Universe. It would most likely be a world that works for everyone; a world of peace, common sense, responsibility, love and honesty. And lawn chairs.

 

In the course of a radio interview, Brooke once discussed other artists and musicians whose work he admires. Some of his comments, along with samples of the works of these individuals, can be found here.

 

McEldowney's strips seem done more as a means of expression rather than for the purpose of making a living. It's plain he doesn't particularly care for syndicate restrictions on format, deadlines, or political correctness - all of which combine to make Pibgorn a much more suitable forum for his artistic and philosophical expressions.  On the web, an artist can do far more than in print.  That's not to say he's completely free... a few modifications were demanded to the final scenes of the Shakespearean adventure, which were happily corrected in the book.  Other changes were requested for 9 Chickweed Lane. Curious?  Click here or here.

 

He also cares neither for scorn nor kudos - he draws to please himself, and that's that. I for one am grateful for what he has brought to the world. That said, he is extremely gracious to his readers, answering emails and comments personally when he is able, keeping us abreast of developments on his weblog, and occasionally dropping in to the Pibgorn discussion forum at Comics.com.

 

Incidentally, his daughter runs her own weblog entitled The Snark Ascending. Surely the apple falleth not far from the tree...

 

Thanx and a Tip of the Hat to...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that shadowy figure who hovers over Brooke's shoulder and tells him, "No, dear, that's not funny;" who screens his email to separate the "wine on the lees well-refined" from the dregs thereof; and who otherwise keeps the good man healthy and happy - the power behind the throne, as it were.  For all you do, to help make it possible for the Master to continue doing what he does so well, bringing such bounteous joy to so many, on behalf of all of us, our heartfelt gratitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plugs

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Both Pibgorn, the Girl in the Coffee Cup and Pibgorn Rep: A Midsummer Night's Dream are available in hardcopy, by sending email to pibpress@gmail.com.  According to Brooke, "Let them know your zip code (if you have one) or your location (if you don't), and mention how many copies you'd like, if you want to pay by check or by credit card via PayPal, and if you want it shipped priority or media mail. They will be back in touch with you probably within the day to give you all the particulars."

 

A front page for the books is at http://pibpress.blogspot.com/.

 

These books are beautiful, and the artwork breathtakingly detailed, much more so than visible on a computer screen. If you love Pibgorn, you owe it to yourself to pick up these collections. And no, Brooke didn't pay me to say that...

 

 

Brooke's first published book, Hallmarks of Felinity, has become a collector's item. A recent check showed 10 copies available at Amazon through private sources at prices between $56.00 and $163.00.  I have a mint-condition copy... $50,000 and it's yours.

 

Miscellany

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3D Pibgorn   Post-Editing    Joe Minotaur

 

At one point, a lively community of followers of the work of Brooke McEldowney sprang up over at Gocomics.com. Unfortunately, the comments board was infested by internet trolls, and comments for both Pibgorn and 9 Chickweed Lane were shut down. It has been replaced by a discussion forum, the Comfy Couch of Confusion 2.0.

 

3D Pibgorn

Fairportfan has created a page of 3D stereo photography, and a tutorial on how to modify 2D images for 3D (cross-eye) viewing:

 

Fairportfan's 3D Tutorial

Fairportfan's 3D Drusilla

 

Captivated by the possibilities, I created my own 3D image of Satori.  What I learned is that it's not easy - my hat's off to Fairportfan who has done some very nice work.

 

Cross your eyes slightly until the two images blend to see the 3D image

 

Post-Editing

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One line makes all the difference:

Sometimes an artist goes back to tweak his work, if he *cough* "remembers" that he had forgotten something...  Click here for an example.

 

Joe Minotaur

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One of the participants in the community is Ranma_one_half, who has begun a series of monologues reminiscent of the old detective pulps.  The name "Joe Minotaur" came from a comment he made in the forum that perhaps some of us were sitting too close to the Minotaur (monitor) while admiring the characters.  You can find his blog here.


Footnotes:

 

1. From an entry in http://officialpibgorn.livejournal.com, dated 24 July 2008 @ 07:32 am

2. http://picayune.uclick.com/comics/pib/2008/pib080319.gif

 

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