The next storyline in the long-running webcomic Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is a piece of webcomics history: the early story “The Stone of Contention” was one of the first story-based comics to be published online. Lost to online readers for many years, it is now coming back in a remastered, retranslated, relettered version.
Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is a fantasy comic that started in print in 1992, came to the Internet for the first time in 1994 and found its permanent home on the web in 2000. It has been part of the Modern Tales lineup since 2002.
The comic tells of the adventures of Kel, Tamlin, Ragna, Jodoque, Jake and Atra, who live in the woods of the kingdom of Clwyd-Rhan around the year 1000 AD. They don’t do saving the world, much. The original version of "The Stone of Contention" ran, in Dutch, on a university website run by one of artist Reinder Dijkhuis’ friends. Online publication started in November, 1994 and was completed in August, 1996. It was poorly scanned, incompetently processed and used Reinder’s hand lettering which was nearly unreadable even in print. Nevertheless, it managed to attract a couple of hundred readers.
Between the end of the run in 1996 and the return of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan to the Web in 2000, Reinder’s’ online publishing efforts fell by the wayside, and eventually the site disappeared from the server. An archived copy, based on a snapshot from 1996, can still be found at The Internet Archive.
If the scan quality was dodgy, the art itself was surprisingly good in most of the comic, Reinder found while working on the new version. "It’s like watching classic cult TV, really. There’s some wobbliness in the sets and the special effects are dated, but the characters come across very well, as does the actual story", says Reinder. "The art needs to be shown at a large size to work, because it was made for print, but I’m enjoying the way the pages turn out at that large size."
In "The Stone of Contention", several of the Rogues are getting jittery in the run-up to a solar eclipse. Jake the Gnome starts building a Gnomian Transport Machine and gibbering in what looks suspiciously like mangled internet address naming schemes, while the witch Atra prepares to go to a large Witches’ Sabbath. During the eclipse, the entire gang is transported to Jake’s native country, the Land of the Gnomes, whose leaders have got it in their heads that the Rogues are the only ones who can save the country from impending civil war.
The remastered, widescreen edition of "The Stone of Contention" will run on weekdays starting June 20. The series will take 4 months to complete.