So... what's this cartoon about again?

Short 'n' sweet... it's about time travel, and all the fun and interesting stuff involved with it. It's also about lampooning historical figures and speculating humorously on current celebrities.


Shouldn't it be called 'Times Like THESE'? I thought that was the correct phrase.

Either way is correct. Besides, I don't want people getting this comic confused with a Foo Fighters or Barbara Mandrell song.


What type of audience are you aiming this feature at?

Generally I'm targeting anybody from teens to seniors, sci-fi geeks to history buffs, and so on. From time to time the content will be pointedly mature in nature, so this comic isn't recommended for those younger than 15. I'm not trying to be a role model here.


How does the time machine work?

It's basically a cell phone and some laser pointers reconfigured around a powerful time-traveling element, all concealed in a large brass pendant. You simply type in the destination time, aim the pendant forward, and hit "Activate". The machine will then project a "time window" about six feet away and up to a maximum of six feet in diameter. After the machine is deactivated, you'll have five seconds to get through the time window before it starts to close up. Be careful not to touch the sides of the time window... it'll burn you real bad.


How would I know that Cassie's in a different time?

If Cassie is in a time other than the present, this will be indicated in the panel by a yellow frame (what I call a "timeframe") surrounding the scene, with a tab in the upper left hand corner indicating what year it is. Once she crosses the time window back into the present, the frame will disappear in the next panel.


What is this time machine powered by?

At first it was powered by the cell phone battery, but all that energy to activate the time machine's crucial element drained the battery only after a couple of uses... so Cassie paid a visit to 2205 and bought the most technologically advanced battery at that point... a hybrid of solar and fusion power. Now the machine recharges itself in seconds, and can make 20 time windows between charges.


Does this time-travel element have a name?

It's called Sesquicentium, and on the periodic table it's Element 150. This element doesn't exist in real life... yet. (And once it's discovered, more than likely it'll get a different name, and it definitely WON'T have time-travel powers.)


Who shares Cassie's secret about the time machine?

Only those that Cassie can genuinely trust to keep it secret, since she knows all hell would break loose once the secret to time travel got out and everybody got their own time machines. Only her husband Philip, her two closest friends Matt and Bethany, and a select other few know of her secret and won't be telling anyone.


And how can Cassie be so sure about that?

The late Douglas Adams wrote that once time travel became commonplace in the universe, the space-time continuum had gotten to the point that "the past is like a foreign country... they do things exactly the same there." Once Cassie tells someone about her time machine, she waits a few seconds and sees if a lot of stuff changes around her. If it does, she knows this person won't keep her secret... so she'll whip out a Men-In-Black style neuralizer (procured by Agent Scott from the FBI) and erase the person's memory of her secret so everything will go back to normal.


What's Cassie's full name?

Cassandra Lorraine Webber. (Maiden name Wells.) "Cassie" I got from Casio, makers of timepieces among other electronics; "Lorraine" is the name of Marty McFly's mother; "Webber" comes from C.E. Webber, one of the creators of Doctor Who; "Wells" is - duh - H.G. Wells, the author of the literary classic The Time Machine. (Cassie's not supposed to be related to H.G., by the way.)


And her date of birth?

February 8, 1982. I just wanted to pick a date that would be easy to remember, like one that's palindrome-ish when you write it a certain way (like 2-8-82).


So does this mean that she and the other TLT characters will be aging as the strip progresses through the years?

Yep... I really don't have a choice there, since this strip DOES deal with the passage of time and real-life events past & present.


How can Cassie and her friends afford to travel around the world?

Cassie has amassed a sizable stash of money thanks to her time machine and a series of wagers on horse races and sports games, not to mention some smart investing in the stock market. (But she prefers to stay at her job, because she enjoys her profession.) And she's more than willing to spend the money to accommodate anyone to go with her.


How will you address the complexities of time travel? Won't the time machine have to calculate where the Earth will be positioned in space or something? Some of the storylines aren't historically accurate, what's up with that? etc...

I am invoking the Mystery Science Theater Defense on all the scientific relevancy stuff: Just repeat to yourself, "It's just a comic strip, I should really just relax." Basically, in terms of seriousness and relevancy, "Times Like This" is closer to "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" than "Back To The Future". There's not gonna be any paradox crap here... if Cassie or Matt run into themselves, they'll just interact like normal people... maybe shake hands, scratch each other's backs, nothing serious.


Are your characters based on anyone in real life?

Yes and no. I crafted the names from real-life people, but the personalities are for the most part just made up. Cassie is based on no one in particular. Matt Gahan originally had the last name of "Gahane" and that was based on a good friend of mine whose last name used the same letters, but I decided to leave off the last "e" so he'd have the same last name as the lead singer of one of my favorite bands. Bethany Gibson is a name based on another past friend named Stephanie.


Are there any taboo subjects you won't touch?

I'd prefer to stay away from tragic events like 9/11, the Holocaust, real-life murders or assassinations, or the deaths or personal troubles of celebrities. I don't want to do any storylines that may open up a can of worms for me.


I've got my own webcomic. Is it okay if Cassie or another TLT character makes a cameo appearance in it?

It's perfectly fine with me, as long as: a) you mention me or the website (www.timeslikethis.com) on that page containing the comic image (or the image itself); and b) you don't have them say anything racist or homophobic.


When did you first dream all this up?

I first thought of doing a time travel cartoon in 1987... back then I was gonna call it "Timefold" and it was going to be a more serious type of series, and it would've been in comic book form. I didn't have any characters set in stone, though.

Then in 1995 I gave it another thought. This time, it was in comic strip form, played mostly for laughs, and it would be more family-oriented and suitable for newspapers. Here are a couple of sketches I drew up and put on my very first personal website:




As you can see, the characters all have 90's hairstyles and the machine was in the more bulky semi-rock shape, where someone would have to stoop down and crawl through the ring to get to another time. Also, Cassie had the last name of Vernon back then (from Doc Brown in BTTF Part III stating he was a big fan of Jules Verne). I was so gung-ho about this idea at the time that I even went ahead and had the drawings officially filed at the U.S. Copyright Office. But back then, webcomics weren't that prevalent on the internet and I'd have to spend hours drawing up dozens of strips (and spend around a hundred dollars on postage) to ship my idea to all the comics syndicates... just to have all them reject me. And of course, real-life trials and tribulations also got in the way. But now I'm hopeful I can keep the new, improved version of Times Like This going for a while.

Dare I ask who your influences are?

Cartoons and comics have always fascinated me from my early childhood, starting with Charles Schulz and the "Peanuts" series. The first "Peanuts" book I had was a hardcover adaptation of the "Snoopy Come Home" movie, given to me when I was 4 or 5. From there my comic tastes evolved with Jim Davis and "Garfield", and by high school I was into Berkeley Breathed's "Bloom County". Other cartoonists, animators and illustrators that I hold in great esteem include Garry Trudeau ("Doonesbury"), Tom Batiuk ("Funky Winkerbean" and "Crankshaft"), Lynn Johnston ("For Better Or For Worse"), Ralph Bakshi ("Fritz The Cat" and the "Mighty Mouse" cartoons of the late 80's), John Kricfalusi ("Ren & Stimpy"), Mike Judge ("Beavis & Butt-head" and "King Of The Hill"), Scott Adams ("Dilbert") and Seth McFarlane ("Family Guy"). Currently my favorite syndicated comic strip is the hilarious "Pearls Before Swine" by Stephan Pastis.

I'd also have to credit: David Willis ("Shortpacked!", "It's Walky") for indirectly waking me up to realize that I was in my mid-30s and I haven't done anything cartoon-wise yet, and this guy's younger than me and already making money off his webcomic; and Dave Kellett ("Sheldon"), who showed me that even cartoonists from the syndicated-newspaper-strip world can make the jump to the webcomics universe with a good degree of success.

Other humorists that I can say influenced me from my impressionable youth up to now: Douglas Adams, Mel Brooks, all the guys in Monty Python, P.J. O'Rourke, Dennis Miller, Robin Williams, Kevin Smith and Jim Norton.


Where can we reach you at?

I do have an email... just type my name as one word, the at symbol, and gmail.com (I'm publicizing it this way to fend off the nasty spambots). My personal Twitter account is TMOverbeck ... the Twitter link on all the TLT pages is actually Cassie's.