Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

A New Feature: The Fourth Wall

In an effort to deprive myself of even more sleep, I’ve decided to alter somewhat my contribution to Atomic Junk Shop; every so often, I plan to forego the whole column-essay-rant-listicle thing and just draw a cartoon. The strip is called “the Fourth Wall,” and it will show up in this space when the mood strikes me. I’m not setting a schedule or a firm deadline for it, so don’t kvetch if it’s not often enough. It’s “semi-occasional.” The first of these is following shortly after this post, by about a minute.

clarkSo what’s the Fourth Wall, and where do I get off stealing Linkara’s title?

Let’s answer each of those questions in order. In theater, “the fourth wall” is the invisible wall at the front of the stage, the one that’s been removed so we can see what’s going on. To the actors, or more accurately, the characters, the wall exists, and they are unaware of the wall, except when one of them breaks through it to talk to the audience. The same principle applies to film, TV, comics and cartoons. When Ferris Bueller talks to the camera in the middle of a scene, he’s breaking the fourth wall, to cite a fairly obvious example. The tradition goes back beyond Shakespeare; he often had characters carry on whole conversations with the peasants in the crowd. King Lear in particular is full of this business.

daredevil“The Fourth Wall” is a web-comic that I drew (with Craig Kemper writing) from early 2002 through early 2006, as a regular feature of a site I co-own called Monkey Spit. I revived it briefly in 2009 for another site, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Craig was off making smartphone games by this time, so the revived strip was written by me, along with contributions from friends like Kevin Wilson. After three or four strips ran there, the site owner did something that was offensive to me (I think it was something misogynistic), so I pulled the comic down from there. You can see some of the old strips at Monkey Spit, but the site is in disarray at the moment, as I am moving the old hand-coded HTML pages to a WordPress setup (at a glacial pace), and most of the content is not currently available, but I hope to rectify that eventually.

deadAs to why I get to intrude on Linkara’s turf, well, I was here first. I had already let The Fourth Wall slip into neglect about a year before Lewis started his blog. I knew him when we both used to post on Gail Simone’s forum back when it was on CBR, and though I haven’t asked him, I don’t think he’d begrudge me the use of the title, since I never gave him any grief about it when the shoe was on the other foot.

And now you know the backstory, so go ahead and click the link to see the return of The Fourth Wall.

The Fourth Wall: Lighter and Brighter


  1. Simon

    I remember reading them elsewhere, the DD one being my fav. One more notch for the site’s list of columns?

    – “In an effort to deprive myself of even more sleep”

    (Insert Cronin joke.)

    – “And now you know the backstory”

    (Insert Hatcher joke.)

  2. Le Messor

    I’m a regular viewer of Atop The Fourth Wall, and it would never have occurred to me that you’d taken Lewis’ title.

    Of course, I knew what ‘The Fourth Wall’ meant already. 🙂

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