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What are the haps my friends

February 1st, 2023: Twenty years! I started this comic on February 1st 2003 and now it's February 1st 2023! WHAT EVEN IS GOING ON??

Honestly though, this is incredible, and I'm so grateful for everyone who reads my work. I've said this to friends before, but I'll say it publicly now too: if you ever want to mess with me, going back to February 1st 2003 and preventing me from putting this comic up would absolutely rewrite my entire life. Writing Dinosaur Comics has led to so many amazing things - not just meeting readers, not just seeing plush versions of T-Rex go up to the edge of space or to Antarctica (both places I would love to go but am highly unlikely to, but hey, if I can't go at least real-life instantiations of fictional dinosaurs I made up can make the trip!), but all sorts of incredible work too. I mean, heck, you can trace a direct line between me sending an upload command to my FTP client in 2003 and everything I've done since, and if you told me back then that "hey, the Dinosaur Comics guy is going to write Star Trek comics and adopt Vonnegut into comics too and write bestselling (and non-fiction!) guides to both time travel and taking over the world and, oh, let's say be the new writer for the Fantastic Four AND MORE" I would've said "What?! I would like to be the Dinosaur Comics guy, thank you so much."

I was talking to Chris "Achewood" Onstad the other day - fitting, since his was the only webcomic I knew of when I started mine - and we talked a bit about our relationships to our work. There are those who hate to be known as "the x guy", because we're all so much more complex than a single piece of work. True! All true. But we agreed we love when people call us "The x Guy" because so much of who we are IS in our work, and we don't need a single thing to represent us. It's all us! And we're happy you like it.

To celebrate 20 years I thought, okay, maybe I'll change the pictures just this once. I fired up a virtual machine running Windows XP which ITSELF was tweaking its settings to run Windows 95, which ITSELF was running the Windows 3.1 software I first used in the last few days of January to make myself a comics layout, and started playing around. (Incidentally, the comic's still laid out in MS Paint, but the version that came with XP - they fixed a font-rendering thing in the newer versions that would make my comics look different, so HERE WE ARE.) After 20 years I'm allowed to change the images BRIEFLY. And only once!!

The world of online comics is very different from how it was when I started - there's been a huge shift towards social media - functioning effectively as an aggregator - and a huge shift away from people actually visiting websites. But I love websites, and I think they give us the healthiest, most free version of the web, and I hope 20 years from now the only way to connect with other people won't be through a corporate or algorithmically-mediated platform. I don't know if Dinosaur Comics will be around 20 years from now (I'm 40 now! I'm not invincible anymore! I don't know if I'LL be around 20 years from now!) but I hope the answer to "will Dinosaur Comics be around in 20 years and will Ryan be around too?" is "yes" to both. (And if the answer is "yes" to the former but not the latter, I am EXTREMELY CURIOUS to know how that was made to happen.)

I asked you all ideas for the 20th anniversary, and got some great suggestions - and the one I loved the most was to provide ONE MORE CLUE to the Qwantzle. Way back in 2010 I posted a comic with an encoded secret message in it, and I really thought it would get solved quickly, despite its complexity. It didn't. So I increased the prize bounty and offered more clues over the next few weeks, and people like Ell built neat tools to help solve it but still nobody got the answer. And while I am THRILLED to have something I can take to my grave (and/or put instructions in my will to publish the answer to, the jury's still out on which is the more baller move) I agreed that a fun way to celebrate 20 years was to offer one more clue to this decade-old puzzle.

SO! Solve what T-Rex is saying in the final panel of this comic and you'll win ANY FIVE THINGS you want from my store (the prize used to be 2 shirts and a giant T-Rex plush, but those are sold out now!). You can see the existing hints here, and the new hint is....

The final letter is "w".

That's it, I hope this helps, and if it doesn't hit me up in 20 years and I'll see what I can do!!

UPDATE: TopatoCo has made The Stomp Artwork Real And You Can Buy It And I'm Gonna

One year ago today: literary technique comics: it is so a literary technique and honestly you literature authors should use it way more often

– Ryan

big ups and shouts out