This week is a little sad as my daily dose of a favourite web comic has come to an end. The author, Howard Taylor, has been providing a three panel humourous scifi comic each day for a little over twenty years and last week was the last post for these characters. Although he does say he will continue in the future with stories from his universe, the characters I have come to love will not be front and centre. I have missed reading a new page each day for the last week.
I found out about this comic when it was referenced by another author in one of his book’s prologues somewhere around the late 2000’s. I spent a good amount of time reading from the beginning and watched as the character’s stories develop but also saw the drawing style of the creator change over the years. This author is one of the small number of graphic artists that can make a living off his creation and I am glad to say that I did contribute by buying merchandise which I wear to this day.
The characters are as diverse as you can get. The leader of the mercenary outfit, Tagon Toughs, is Captain Tagon. Tagon is the quintiscential mercenary captain who will do most things for a buck. He is also the straight man to Sergent Schlock. This is his description straight from the Schlock Mercenary Wiki, https://www.ovalkwiki.com/.
Sergeant Schlock is a carbosilicate amorph, which means he looks like about 250kg (550lb) of grey-green putty (or, if you prefer, like the droppings of a very healthy ungulate that can’t digest eyeballs). He is extremely strong, reasonably intelligent, and much faster than he looks. His senses are considerably sharper than human, to a point that Lieutenant Sorlie described him as “an alien god of hearing and smell” and Doctor Bunnigus just says outright “Assume he can hear everything you’re saying” . He also has a penchant for violence and could not be happier with his job as a mercenary. Just keep him supplied with enemies, ammo, and Genuine Imitation Ovalkwik, and he will stay happy.
The other characters are just as interesting with Howard Taylor making brilliant use of their talents. His story telling is fantastic as well and has created twenty books of the adventures of Tagon’s Toughs. If you do want a bit of a chuckle, try reading The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries. My favourite is #43 “If it’s stupid and it works, it’s still stupid and you’re lucky”. I have this and one other maxim on T-Shirts.
While I will miss Schlock Mercenary, I wish Howard Taylor all the best. He does deserve his “Exploring what else is out there” time. The comic will still be online so I can visit again and again.