In Nov. 2006, a 14-year-old then going by ‘Z-Axis’ started a webcomic ‘En Guard’ on the free hosting site SmackJeeves. The concept was wholly derivative: an attempt to copy the formula (and art style) of The Order of the Stick and apply it to Warhammer 40k, much like a few other such comics arising out of the Giant in the Playground forums in that era.

The resulting comic was, predictably, “cringe” in every single way you would expect a 14-year-old’s webcomic. I could reel off a list of its flaws, but it seems mean-spirited; it was a sincere expression of a desire to create, in a totally scattershot adhd-ful way. These efforts continued for about two years, producing a grand total of… 13 pages, reinventing itself from the ground up after every two or three.

But for all its flaws it was my comic. After the demise of ImageShack and SmackJeeves, I had presumed it lost to the ages… but recently, I was combing my old desktop, and happened on a certain folder called C:\Users\bryn\Documents\backup\MyDocumentsBackup2\My Documents\USB stick contents\27 August 2007\Stick 1\Work experience\En Guard. There it was! The first ten strips, and all their working files! The eleventh meanwhile was lucky enough to be preserved on archive.org. (Though the images have mostly been deleted, the rest of the site is preserved here.)

Which means, for the second time ever, I can present the first eleven pages of En Guard! With their original captions, because the endless apologies and insecurities are as much a part of the comic as the images themselves.

Never Trust the Adjutant (23 November 2006)

Page 1 of En Guard. The Adjutant attempts to murder the senile Captain, but the Captain accidentally turns the engines off, causing the ship to fall into the atmosphere.

I hope you enjoy En Guard. Read the newspost for further information.

Feedback would be most desirable.

Ow (25 November 2006)

Page 2 of En Guard. The spaceship bounces along the ground, then explodes. The Adjutant says 'ow' repeatedly.

Here's the second one. I'm a bit worried about overuse of onomatopoeia, and I think some of the panels are a little lacking art-wise.

Constructive criticism would be wonderful.

InquisiTech (3 December 2006)

Page 3 of En Guard. The Adjutant attempts to open a door. The door malfunctions. An automated system declares it is likely to be heretical, and attacks it.

Is this funny to people who know no 40K? I don't know. As usual, constructive criticism is very much appreciated.

Techpriest (20 December 2006)

Page 4 of En Guard. The Adjutant resolves to look for a tech priest. The door opens, revealing a tech priest.

It took a long time, but I finally have this up. I'll try and keep updates more regular now, promise!

Text is now smaller, although in some cases I think I made it too small - I decided partway through making it to use 14pt instead of 12pt, and forgot to change some. I might sort it out soon.

Murphy’s Law (7 January 2007)

Page 5 of En Guard. The Adjutant finds the Captain, hiding in the Very Fragile Pipes. He is joined by a techpriest, but the door has once again closed.

As promised, new comic. Hopefully I'll manage a fairly regular update schedule from now on.

A mistake in the document properties means this comic is semi-widescreen!

Text on the terminal screen, for those interested:

++Thought for the day:++
++Be wary of Chaos, lest it suck out thy spleen with a straw++
++Warning! Power failure in Deck F++
++Warning! Power failure in Deck H++
++Warning! Power failure in Deck T++
++Warning! Power failure in Deck A++
++Warning! Power failure in Deck G++
++Warning! Power failure in Deck N++
++Warning! Coffee Servitor failure++
++Warning! Cogitator Alpha failing++
++Error: Cannot display blue screen of death on green screen++

Sick of that door yet? (21 February 2007)

Page 6 of En Guard. The techpriest declares that he cannot open the door without candles.

Yeah, after much procrastination, there’s a new comic. I’m afraid I can’t promise a return to regular updates, but hopefully be hapy with this one for the time being, and I’ll upload a new one when I can.

Anyway, this should be the last appearance of that door. New exciting places await us, my friends, far from this door! Are the new style of speech bubbles good, or should I switch back?

Also, I figured out a new way to do fancy zooms and things, so I can have some fun with the ‘camera’ now :)

Hammering it Home (4 March 2007)

Page 7 of En Guard. A new character bombastically attacks the door with a hammer. An automated system kills him.

Hopefully, this comic isn’t too morbid for everyones tastes. Regardless, this is pretty much a response to Ghost’s question.

You know I said that the door wouldn’t come back? I lied >:)

However, this time, it really is the last sighting of the door.

Plots (1 April 2007)

Page 8 of En Guard. The Adjutant asks the Techpriest what the ship is carrying, and fantasises about using first lasguns, then sporks to kill the Captain.

It was a struggle, but the new comic is up. I hope the primarily visual joke is funny for you all. If you’re wondering why the Adjutant wants to kill the Captain, re-read the first comic.

I have been told that the thought bubbles aren’t entirely clear. I’m probably not going to change them now, but for those who were confused, panels 2 and 4 show what the Adjutant is thinking.

Keep Walking (20 May 2007)

Page 9 of En Guard. The Adjutant asks how to get to the exit. A map reveals a chaotic, twisting path marked with a red line.

Hopefully this comic won’t seem weak, but it is setting up a future joke…

Sorry about the long hiatus, but it takes time to draw the ship and cargo hold in all that detail. More to the point, I’ve been very busy.

Yeah, it’s short; next week’s will hopefully be a bit longer than this.

Anyway, I hope you like it…

However (26 May 2007)

Page 10 of En Guard. The techpriest says the journey could take a long time... if they follow the red line, which is painted on the wall.

Yes, on schedule for once… Lets see how long I can keep this going ;)

This was very much inspired by Irregular Webcomic and the various ‘red line’ jokes in its Cliffhangers theme.

I don’t think I’m falling to the evils of 4th-wall breaking here, as they’re not referring to anything outside the world of the strip, but in any case feedback is very much appreciated.

A Comparison of Theories (16 August 2007)

Page 11 of En Guard. The characters walk through the ship, advancing hypotheses as to why it's all so messed up: demons, xenos, broken servitors. All of these things turn out to be real, and they fight offscreen.

It took its time to come out, as Onasuma will always say. I’m just worried that it isn’t as funny as the others… but time shall tell.

I tried to address everyones’ critiques in this one, with more text, more perspective, and more jokes.

I know lasgun wounds technically don’t bleed, and the deamon should probably have gone back to the Warp (or not, I’m not that good on daemon background), so call it artistic license :P

Comments are appreciated.

En Guard on Venus (Secret Santa Comic) (24 December 2007)

The image has been lost.

Thanks to Ichneumon from the Giant in the Playground forums for a great Secret Santa guest comic! This was done in the style of Opening.

Pseudoscience (4 August 2008)

Page 12 of En Guard. The comic has a new, more detailed art style with many mechanical details in the background. The Techpriest reveals he was working on a powerful weapons system, but it only affects Orks, much to the Adjutant's disappointment. Some servo-skulls appear to make joking asides.

The unthinkable has happened, and the hiatus has ended.

Thank you to everyone willing to wait while I made this comic, and I hope that you are satisfied with the result. I did my best to follow the criticism and requests given for previous comics. Thanks as well to everyone who complained about the time, offered threats of Inquisitorial wrath, accused me of false promises, etc. You provided a much-needed bit of encouragement to get on and draw, so loads of thanks to all of you!

The massive wait was a result of several factors. The first one was real life. Often, I was busy with all sorts of things. Perhaps more importantly, in terms of how long it took me to draw the comic, was the art upgrade.

Reading previous comics, especially the most recent one, I felt that the art needed a rather significant improvement, especially in the character designs. The rather boring backgrounds of the most recent comic were also an issue. I have redrawn the main cast, which means future comics will be much quicker to draw (although the more detailed designs take longer to pose).

Enough excuses, here is the comic! The text on the computer screen in the first two panels reads as follows:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+Danger: Core containment failure+
++Significant risk of explosion!++
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++Praise the Emperor++++++++
+++++for our imminent demise++++++
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The servo-skulls are intended to reflect the demon roaches who appear in OotS, and depending on how they are received they will either become supporting characters or vanish back from whence they came.

Apologies to anyone having trouble downloading the file. ImageShack is sometimes a bit slow, but I cannot compress it any further without causing ugly artifacts and it’s too big for SmackJeeves to store on their servers.

Once again, thank you, and I hope you all enjoyed the comic! If you didn’t, though, tell me. I can always use criticism.

Experiment (7 December 2008)

The image has been lost.

ATTENTION ALL CITIZENS

AIRLOCKS ARE WASTEFUL

It is not your duty to leave this ship, and airlocks only encourage such foolish behaviour. All airlocks have been removed in this sector to discourage frivolous use of the Emperor’s void suits.

The new void-doors are guaranteed airtight when closed. If a leak is detected, burn candles near the door and alert the nearest Techpriest.

Any citizen who opens a door will be shot. Do not suffocate before justice has been carried out. Any citizen who suffocates before being shot will be shot twice.

THE EMPEROR PROTECTS.

As the captions suggest, the last two comics saw a significant art 'upgrade'---which is to say, I redesigned the characters to be busy with detail and overly complex cel-shading, and started using 3D graphics. This wasn't really what the comic needed, but I do think this presentation is missing something without them. So I hope one day I find them in some dusty digital corner. In any case; this was En Guard. Thank you for reading.