Once the storywriting hero of the Bay Area BBS scene, Tristan A. Farnon has adapted to the rise of the Internet by quietly becoming one of its most prolific and widely-read authors and cartoonists.

Born on April 20 in some indeterminate year, Tristan A. ("amateur" or "anonymous", to distinguish him from the character in All Creatures Great and Small) lived the first twenty years or so of his life in limbo. Tristan was adopted into a family he couldn't comprehend: a single mom in the lead (her husband died early on) and four other adopted kids from Korea with behavorial disorders. Tristan learned to tune his home out pretty early on. Although he is still uncomfortable with the idea of a family, he says that "people from banged-up backgrounds don't always fail. Unless doing online comics is a form of failure."

Glimpses of the Tristan we know and love today started showing up in high school. He was, he says, the only non-Mormon kid at his private school, so he lived his four years there like the invisible man... which gave him time to do things like stealing pads of school stationery and typing out fake letters to students' parents ("Dear Mr. and Mrs. Whomever, your son or daughter was caught masturbating in the library and we'd like to schedule an important conference...") or printing poster-sized copies of terrible pictures of staff members and making Warhol-esque grids on the walls.

That about covers it for Tristan's dark and mysterious background. Some of the projects he has been involved in include:

Leisure Town

By far the most popular of Tristan A. Farnon's projects and something of an Internet institution, Leisure Town may be the best online comic the web will ever see. Leisure Town is a sort of photocomic; the sets are meticulously collected photographs of the city, its diners and tunnels and such, and the cast is a collection of Tristan's bendy toys. Although their expressions never change, Tristan brings an amazing amount of life into those little plastic figurines. Over those hundreds of pages you experience the lives of a corporate serial killer, a pig that jerks himself back in time, a woman's aborted daughter... it runs the emotional gamut like no other collection of goofy little dolls before or since.

Leisure Town is all Tristan's. He and he alone sacrificed "two jobs, a nice house, several girlfriends and a dog" to bring you the library of Leisure you see today. In the absence of contact information or an e-mail address on the page, he's been doing it in the total absence of feedback. Unemployed and not resorting to banner ads, the expense of maintaining Leisure Town is slowly draining away at him. So why does he still do it?

Maybe it's as cathartic to make as it is fun to read. Let Tristan know it was all worth it: acquaint yourself more closely with a few episodes of Leisure Town today.

10 / 06 / 2003 note: As of a few days ago, Leisure Town has been annihilated, its frontpage replaced with a simple "Thank you, and goodnight" and its content removed from the Wayback Machine. Experiential evidence of the utter callousness and cruelty of God suggests that it will indeed never return. Let us now bow our heads in solemn remembrance and thanks for the great online comic that once was.

11 / 04 / 2005 note: Saints be praised! Leisure Town is back! A cleanly-designed, well-organized archive of all past content now awaits readers at the site -- not to mention a new store, wherein the comic's bendy stars themselves can be purchased. Hallelujah!

rotten.com and gapingmaw.com

To just what extent Mr. Farnon is responsible for rotten.com itself is still unclear -- the contributors of its posts are not credited -- but being that more than 2/3 of the articles on gapingmaw.com (rotten.com's "Thoughts and ruminations from your fearless leader") are written by him we can safely assume he's got at least some part in it.

rotten.com has, over its five years, acquired its share of enemies. A good portion of the fifteen million people who visit the page daily contribute to making rotten.com possibly the most constantly litigated website yet. Although there are more shocking pages out there, rotten.com got there first and makes for a convenient target.

What seperates rotten.com from other, uglier horrorshow sites is... well, it has a bit of class. It is polite to its readers, never puts awful pictures on the front page and is written in a way that seems to hope you're in on the joke.

rotten.com itself may not show much evidence of Tristan's participation, but look at gapingmaw.com (rotten.com's editorial site) for a dozen or so lengthy articles on current events and non-events alike.

"Passengers on their way to Las Vegas are chatty and excitable; those returning home are not. These folks are broken, bruised, defeated. They have no money, nothing to look forward to except another work week. Gambling and pornography carved this miniature civilization out of the desert, and none of us will ever see a penny of it.

Us coach class dopes will never look up at a Bellagio ceiling mirror and see three high-class call girls licking our dicks at the same time. Our personal, private weather forecasts forever remain the same no matter where we travel: uncomfortable and expensive."

10 / 06 / 2003 note: The Rotten.com Library, http://www.rotten.com/library/, as seen on Memepool. I'll say no more.


Leisure Town isn't the only online cartoon Tristan A.'s involved in. Jerkcity, composed of a bunch of Microsoft Chat panels slapped together, is the bizarre product of the late-night chat logs of Tristan and three of his friends.

Okay, that makes it sound like he's the focus of the strip, and that's unfair. Here's the real deal with the main cast:

  • Rands, a sleazy 'grey' alien, founder of the site.
  • Pants, a nine-eyed skirt-wearing monster with a single huge nipple, who does the stripping.
  • Spigot, a goatee-sporting beatnik type, Tristan's character.
  • Deuce, a "nondescript Mummenschanz-type character in a gigantic Polynesian war mask", just this guy.

So, what's it like? What's it about? Well... if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be "dick". I mean, good lord -- it just doesn't stop. Bonghits, blowjobs and, uh, suicide, interrupted by the occasional dramatic monologue. Curiously enough, over a thousand strips later they haven't exhausted the comedic potential of the word "dong".

Spigot: I'M FAT

BBS Fiction

This one took some poking around, because Tristan has apparently gone around the web and asked people to take down collections of his old writing. It's not clear exactly why -- one person maintaining a folder formerly full of his stories said they were "truly wonderful" and always caused a ruckus whenever a new one was posted.

Now conspicuously absent, these stories still serve a purpose: knowledge of their former existence reinforces the idea that Tristan hasn't just come by his recent success by luck and that we can expect even more from him in the future.

"Tristan's stories were filled with irony, interesting situations, and well-written dialogue, all pleasant changes from what else you would find. They weren't interested in causing destruction or insulting others; they just entertained."
-- Jason Scott

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