April 29th, 2010


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Discussion (45)¬

  1. Terry says:


  2. Sondre says:

    *Naaw!* My head just might explode from the combined awesomeness of Ed and the skins =]
    Oh, and: http://topwebcomics.com/vote/10180/default.aspx ^^ (dunno if it will work “as is”)

  3. jassius says:

    “We are in a hurry, remember?”

    I believe Jhalm personally sent the skin painters just to delay them. Now it will be hours before she can pry talking artists apart and go back on their mission. 😀

  4. Gramina says:

    Jassius — otoh, it’s a nice bribe to get the skins to come with them — Ed really *has* to go, but there’s no reason they can’t walk that way too. And, of course, if Ed happens to *live through* the upcoming encounter, they will have the chance for *more* shop talk. This could be an in with the skins 😀

  5. Ketira says:

    I’m with Gramina – methinks the trio will want to “talk shop” for at least a week! 😉

    Sondre: and yes, the link worked.

  6. Sage says:

    Shop talk whee!

  7. That dye would be carmine shellac, right?

  8. Rhio2k says:

    Suddenly, they don’t seem all that bad. Why didn’t we like them, again?

  9. saphroneth says:

    We did like them. They are very awesome – and this is the most surreal tattoo conversation not involving alcohol.

  10. JewelWolf says:

    They even TALK the same! This is glorious! And of course we’d have to bring up the color purple again. Yes, we like purple.

  11. Loren says:

    Tyrian Purple came from a mollusk, the Murex. Yeah, it took lots and lots of ’em to get just a little dye. Not sure what bugs would provide it, but the Cochineal produces red. No reason there couldn’t be a purple bug in Digger’s world, of course. 🙂

  12. Hunter says:

    I expected one of them to go “Yes” when the other said “With purple ink.”

  13. bAnAnA says:

    We didn’t like them because they wanted to skin Digger. But even then, they wanted to do it so politely.

    But I think this is my absolute favorite page.

  14. TekServer says:

    Agreed on all counts; this is a great page!

    Well, almost all counts. They (the Skins and Ed) don’t quite talk the same; they each have unusual and distinctive speech patterns (even without the Skins’ typewriter font).
    Oh, and I don’t think there’s any way the Skins would go NEAR Jhalm, let alone work for him. Though they might skin him in his sleep if they could catch him napping …

    Vote early, vote often!

  15. Rick Woods says:

    You know, I think I might need to get this whole comic in print form once it’s done. Just because pretty much every page in it — and I mean every single page — is so artfully done, linguistically and visually, that I find myself thinking “I wouldn’t mind that on my wall”.

  16. jassius says:

    *note to self: I have a weird sense of humor. No one can see me winking on the Internet. Should use joke tags in comments* 🙄

    Because of it’s ancient tradition I put my vote on them using the much appreciated Tyrian purple http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_purple. Also the comment about the quantity they need would fit this source:
    “twelve thousand snails of Murex brandaris yield no more than 1.4 g of pure dye, enough to color only the trim of a single garment.”

    Somehow I can’t take the image from my head. A roman emperor climbing to the balcony, addressing to the citizens and proclaming: “We like purple” LOL!

  17. jassius says:

    And I mean I see *totally* reasonable in this place snails could have grown legs any time and become bugs.

  18. Exindiv says:

    To get red dye in Medieval Europe, they used kermies, a small bug they found on trees. However, it took hundreds of the little bugs to make any notable amount of dye, which is why Red much like Purple was reserved for the aristocracy. When the New World was discovered, another, more plentiful bug was found in Mexico on cacti that also produced a very vivid red and became a major export. These bugs are still used in red colorants for dyes and food. Don’t know of any bugs being used specifically for a purple dye, but this is, of course, a fictional setting with vampiric gourds and troll-riding shrews.

  19. JewelWolf says:

    You know, I remember reading somewhere (or maybe hearing it) that Cleopatra had a garment (garments?) made with the purple dye coming from some sort of beetle or bug. It was a very, very deep purple, which proclaimed her prowess. The number 3,000 accompanies the memory in my head, but I’m not sure if any of that is true. Wouldn’t that be something though?

  20. Someone tried to tell me that Queen Elizabeth’s colors were more of a lavender as opposed to a darker purple. Does that check with any historians in the group? Rick Woods> I think you are absolutely right when this is over I will want the entire story in book form. I also would want to see the made for t.v. version, but only if Ursula got to call the shots. Oh, and I completely maintain that I want all the action figures and the Ganesh Temple Action Playset.

  21. Don’t laugh…well okay, you can laugh, but my Brother-in-law completely paid for his honeymoon with vintage Star Wars Action Figures and the play sets that went with them…Okay, he didn’t barter with the flight attendant, “I’ll trade you a Vinyl caped Jawa, circa, 1977, for two plane tickets please.”… Um, he sold the figures, and then, after that, he was able to use the money to finance his Honey moon…it was good…they went to Hawaii, not Carl’s Jr….where they have many natural ways to dye things different colors… which ties directly back to the the Skin painter, the Skin Lizards, and our story…Um, I’ve never been to Hawaii.

  22. Karyl says:

    Love it that they are talking shop! Go Ed, GO!

  23. CoyoteGrey says:

    Behold. Ed plus Skins can cause countless people to research what bug could create the color purple when crushed. It also inspired quite a few facts. Such is the power of Ed and Skins. (or maybe that’s the author’s ability to so craftfully weave such great characters)

  24. BunnyRock says:

    Long answer? I presume you mean Elizabeth Tudor, not one of the Dutch ones? As for colours I’m not sure what you mean, her arms did not involve purple of any description and as Military colours in the modern sense hadn’t quite taken of, so I presume you just mean what colours she wore in her clothing. Lavender would be possible, but tricky, before synthetic dyes. to be honest you would probably have to combine two dyes, a pink or red and a blue, as industrial scale Murex exploitation largely collapsed after the fall or Rome, with what was produced not leaving the eastern empire. After the fall of byzantine i wouldn’t think Lizzy could have got murex cloth in large enough amounts to do much, seeing as none had been produced since the fourth crusade of 1204 and remaining artefacts dyed with it were mostly inherited church vestments. Mostly, people used “Vermilion” Not true Vermilion which is basically cinnabar, and so full of mercury, widely used as a paint but unsuitable as a dye, like all mineral paints, and interestingly by Tudor times most true Vermilion was synthetically produced, but a similar coloured dye made from, you’ve guessed it, bugs. But the colour is a very dark red with a hint of purple rather than lavender. You could deliberately wash-out an unfixed dark purple cloth to lavender, and then fix it with alum, but it seems a waste of good dye.

    To be honest, the lavender could have been mineral rather than dyed cloth- Lizzy like many super-rich Tudor women wore clothing decked out with so much in the way of gold and gems she could barely walk at times. It’s a historian’s myth to say the dresses could stand up by themselves, but not by much. Amethyst was relatively popular at the time. Or she may have “worn” lavender, actual lavender, in a Pomander or similar object to ward of bad smells, but lavender is a bit cheep and cheerful considering all the rare spices and the expensive and terrifying civet and whale vomit flavoured perfumes a women of her wealth could have afforded.

    Interestingly Elizabeth Windsor, the current monarch (barring something horrible having happened and yet to hit the press) does use on her personal flag a dark blue that in the right light can look a tiny bit lavender, but most of the time just looks a very non-lavender dark blue.

    Short answer: not really. Purple, lavender especially, is difficult to do without synthetics. In this universe at least, Digger’s seems far better designed in a few kea areas.

    And put me down for a Grim Eyes action figure (Now with realistic spear-throwing action) a Boneclaw Mother Doll that talks when you pull a sting in the back (Not suitable for Mormons*, under forties, or those of a delicate disposition) and a Shadow child soft toy. I have never understood the appeal of what Americans would probably call “Plushies/ Plush Dolls” … until Shadowchild started chipping away slowly at my cynical and jaded little Brit soul like an adorable possessed woodpecker.

    *they are the ones who can’t swear right? I find it so hard to keep track of all these people who apparently want to save my soul and all seem to want to save it early in the morning when I’m hung over. I keep a stock of flyers from the Baptist church I go too AND the “Darwin’s 200th anniversary” leaflets from the scientific societies I’m a member of by the door on the basis one or the other will get rid of most callers. And yes, i sincerely believe in both, because hey, otherwise life would be too simple by half.

  25. kat says:

    Somewhere in the background is Digger, just *waiting* to learn more about ink art than she ever, ever wanted to know.

    (C’mon, you know this conversation will get creepy sooner or later….)

  26. Lucius Appaloosius says:

    Only on this site, folks, only on this site do you get detailed essays on historical dye manufacture, PLUS wombats……. It’s a Web treasure, folks 7@=e

  27. Elena says:

    Bunnyrock, “purple” is actually a dark, slightly bluish red – it’s only fairly recently violet and purple became the “same” color. Shakespeare mentions purpling a sword blade with someone’s blood. And recently there was a net flurry of fuss about it being possible to get a genuine blue with murex secretions if you put the fluid in the sun before dyeing. The breathless commentator on a biblically flavored youtube cast was going on about how it was a more expensive (true) blue than indigo but that it was “better” because it was more lightfast (maybe… but they said it’s a very similar molecule so… doubtful)

  28. JewelWolf says:

    @Lucious: I agree. This is a sacred place on the internet. The web is a dark, dark place, and it seems as if trolls roam in every single corner of the internet. This is one of the few places left untouched.

  29. Silverfish says:

    JewelWolf – Don’t jynx it!

    Man, I love the skins. I wonder if the color purple has some significance to them (other than liking it), or if it’s just the only color of bug available.

  30. Elizabeth says:

    I have a mental picture of Digger standing just out of frame with a *look* on her face that is priceless. I can see it so clearly it’s as though Ursula drew it in my imagination.

  31. Holly says:

    Oh man, I love the skins. I love them lots. Which page was it that they made their (second) appearance? I need to read that again.

  32. BunnyRock> My wife is Dutch, but I am speaking of Elizabeth I, she’s Henry Tudor/VIII’s kid right? We attend a pretty large RenFaire up in Californy, and of course, we get visited by all the superstars of the day. Bill the Bard will be there, along with Sir Francis Drake, Lizzy of course, and this year they added Chris Marlowe. They may have had him the past, but I didn’t know he was going to be in attendance until I checked the website.

    Anyway, my family tends to dress up when we go, and one year one of our friends wore a much lighter purplish color than I had seen. Some of the folks teased her saying that, “Her color was too close to the Queens!” Someone even threatend to throw her feet in the stocks.

    On the subject of swearing, I expect that Woodpeckers are quite adept at swearing in their native Woodpeckerian. As for me I’m a horrid swearer. I get the words in the wrong places. One time I tried to flip this guy off on the freeway. I got so flustered I ended up giving him the thumbs up sign instead! Complete Face Palm!

  33. Melissa Trible says:

    @JewelWolf: there are trolls here. They go “Gronk”, and are disturbingly cute.

  34. JewelWolf says:

    HAHA! I would pick those trolls over any of the racist attention seekers any day.

  35. BunnyRock says:

    @ Elena. good point. Languages shift so often, and linguistics isn’t really my area. I should have qualified what I meant by purple. However i doubt Elizabeth would have cared that much for the linguistic distinction, or the fact Murex production had collapsed more than two centuries before her birth and substitutes had had to be found, so long as she got the fine clothes
    : )

    Has anyone tried dyeing cloth without modern synthetics out of interest? Normally I’d feel stupid asking but given the eclectic, not to say frankly bizarre collection of skills the readers of this comic seem to have I’d not discount the possibility out of hand and if anyone has I’d love to hear how it worked out for you all. Pre-modern dyeing, not synthetics, Alum only to fix colours, was on the list of skills my friends listed would be useful to retain in case they needed to rebuild society after a zombie apocalypse and it was one of only three skills on the list we where we knew no-one who had tried it. Some knew the theory, but no one had actually tried it.

    The other was Wheelwright-ing, where no one knew anyone willing to teach, and making Saltpetre, where there were plenty of people willing to teach, but very few willing to let us do anything quite that disgusting in their back gardeners, which given some of them also habitually collected and, in their garden, excarnated any dead animals they happened to find to add to the Osteoarchaeology reference collection, tells you all you need to know about just how awful saltpetre production is.

  36. BunnyRock says:

    Darn, didn’t mean to press “submit comment “ just then. Sorry for the double post everyone, I sharn’t be a second. @Duck Whisperer: Yes, Elizabeth Tudor, Elizabeth the first of England Wales and Ireland (but not Scotland, Canada, Australia and several other bits the current Elizabeth is queen over) was second youngest legitimate child of Henry VIII and ruled after her younger Brother, Edward VI and her sister Mary I, and would have counted Drake and Shakespeare as her subjects.

    The swearing comment was actually meant as a footnote* referring to the Mormons mentioned above who I think aren’t allowed to swear, and who even if they were would probably not appreciate a Boneclaw Mother action figure cussing like a Sailor in a bordello every time one of their children was incautious enough to pull the sting, and several other times at inopportune moments despite no one having pulled the string or even removed it from it’s box. But I’m glad you mention the woodpeckers, as now I have the image of a pair of little woodpeckers sitting in the tree, unable to swear at the genetic level for some reason and getting horribly tongue tied (which I’d imagine is a big issue for some woodpeckers seeing as it encircles their cranium) every time they try and I have so say it as is funny as it is sweet. Thank you.

    *Hence the asterisk

  37. Carapace says:

    YES, I did a whole huge science fair project on the viability of various dyes, from modern synthetic to various plants- and grape juice was the Purple Poison of choice. Worked pretty well on white cotton. Not the deepest purple ever, but a lovely lilac purple at the end, after the mordant and everything. Might have had different results on other fabric, but yes, purple is possible.
    Said science fair project given a failing grade, on the grounds that “playing with paint isn’t real science”, apparently. Man, I hated school.

  38. JewelWolf says:

    Playing with paint isn’t real science? Were those judges HIGH?! That’s better than any idea I’ve come up with. In fact, if I ever have to do a science fair again (unlikely), I’m using that.

  39. Digger’s down to 47. What happend?

  40. JewelWolf says:

    The end of the month happened. All the others started voting a lot right off the bat. Now we have to catch up.

  41. BunnyRock says:

    Agreed. I can’t stand how negitive some teacher are. it’s a real shame. Voted, btw. here’s the link for any others although I have no doubt Tek has already put it up somewhere…


  42. I tried to vote last night, but something was going on with the vote site or it could have been from my side. I don’t know. Now, just waiting until the grand story teller sends us her next installment tomorrow.

  43. Hawk says:

    To answer the question Bunny Rock is dyeing to hear (snicker)

    I’ve done some dye experiments, here and there (needlework is my hobby, and I got interested in dyeing my own thread for a while…)
    Any rate, there are several ways to get a light color in dye. Indigo is a nice strong colorfast blue; it sounds like the Murex snail-stain would have been a similarly saturated and colorfast red. Now, the thing is, with most dye, the color is going to be strongest on the first thing you dye, and eventually the color will begin to become noticeably lighter, producing gradually lighter shades until the dye no longer “takes.” This weakening of the dye through a batch is actually a fine thing, if you’re trying to dye embroidery thread. As for obtaining purple, when starting from a base of blue and red, I’ve read that it’s possible to blend the colors by overdyeing: that is, dipping the cloth or thread in first one color, letting it dry for a bit, then dipping it again in the second color. Textile manufacturing companies don’t like to do overdyeing; the results are unpredictable and unique, making it more difficult to guarantee specific colors in the finished product. Not that they don’t do it, it’s just uncommon. I’ve never actually done overdyeing myself, so I don’t know how difficult or effective the technique is in a “medieval style” situation.

    My question – and the one that seems to have escaped everyone else here – is this: How can the Skins see purple? They live in a cave with no natural light…Do they even mean “purple” as we light dwelling types understand it? Do they see more of the light spectrum than we do? Could they mean “purple” as in ultraviolet? I’m so intrigued!!!

    Also, just for the record: I too am going to save my pennies and get Every. Single. Book.
    And then sit and read them with my son.

  44. Romanticide says:

    Over here we have “Grana Cochinilla” o Cochineal which is a bug that lives on the cacti. It gives red more than purple but I have been told the name purple used to refer to a more redish color.


  45. Elkian says:

    I knew they’d get along