The misanthropic cyborg girl to lead you through the Singularity

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Kimiko Ross, star of Dresden Codak hangs out with probably nuclear-powered individual and Tiny Carl Jung, builds supervillainous memory-stealing devices, and waits for the Singularity with almost evangelical devotion. In the meantime, she traverses some funny and fantastical landscapes.

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Created by Aaron Diaz, Dresden Codak follows the various adventures and non-adventures of Kimiko Ross, a young girl with a tragic past and a near-absolute devotion to science.

Kim writes alternate pre-history fan fiction, plays D&D (Dungeons and Discourse) with her superheroish friends (who share the apt last name Tokamak) and Tiny Carl Jung, and spends her free time trying to design a sentient AI or harnessing the energy created by dead authors spinning in their graves.

But Kim's remarkable intelligence and rabid transhumanist ideals don't win her points when trying to connect with other human beings. One of her few friends mentions that Kim once changed schools when she forgot her locker combination — and you'll notice she devotes a lot of time and mental energy to not talking to boys she's interested in.

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Many installments of Dresden Codak are one-off strips (and not always starring its central cast), but the longest arc, "Hob," explores both the roots of Kimiko's transhumanism and where it will eventually lead. When a group of post-Singularity time travelers (and a post-Singularity robot) crosses paths with Kimiko and her crew, Kim is eager use the robot to advance human technology, even at the risk of global destruction. When we do see the post-Singularity world, don't merely see the tensions between the transhumans who eagerly merge with new technologies and the humans who cling to their humanity; we also see the desperate acts humans resort to in a world where technology can and does cater to their every whim. The frenetic pace might be a bit much for some readers, but it's interesting to watch Kim's backstory unfold alongside her potential future, and to see the interplay between people who have destroyed their technological paradise and a young woman who would do anything to bring it about.

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Even if "Hob" isn't your particular cup of transhumanist tea, there's plenty to love in the shorter installments of Dresden Codak. Diaz thrusts his characters into all manner of fantastical situations — such as when Kim and Dmitri Tokamak both take jobs in their dreams or Kim encounters a man haunted by the ghosts of his possible future selves or Kim travels to the place where the dead experience the things the living have forgotten.

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In addition to his increasingly eye-popping art, Diaz offers a mix between the haunting and the hilarious. He has a knack for telling a beautiful story, full of interesting ideas and lush illustrations, then finishing off with a joke that should negate the resonance of what came before, but doesn't. And sometimes the individual comics are simply funny and punchy; we've previously mentioned Diaz's "Caveman Science Fiction."

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Diaz has started a new arc "Dark Science," which seems to take much of the earlier absurdity of Dresden Codak and slowed the pace down measurably. It also puts Kim in a fresh setting, one where we'll hopefully see Diaz bring some real worldbuilding chops.

[Dresden Codak]

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DISCUSSION

By
Corpore Metal

Been following this one for years, long before I discovered IO9 actually.

If you read through them all, you can see Diaz' evolution as an illustrator. The stuff that he's putting out now is worlds more superior than his early days. Not that his early ones are bad at all! They are still very funny and clever, just that his technique and execution have grown enormously.

There were some very strips of DC that he took down from the site for reasons unknown. I wish he left them there because they were worthy efforts even if a little rough around the edges.

He recently started a semi-separate blog where he talks about the principles of illustration and art. Anyway, I think this is the part reason why DC updates so slowly. That and he has a day job I guess.

And actually, I don't think Dresdan Codak is really about Vinge's Singularity as such. If anything it seems to be a kind of clever commentary on just how alienating that nerdy mindset is.

What I think Diaz is really interested in and probably how he got started down the Hob story arc is that he's more interested in playing with philosophy and probably in his outside reading discovered all the post-humanism stuff. That's why he has all these other strips about stuff that's not about Kimiko and is about other ideas in philosophy and science and so on. Just likes to joke around with ideas I guess.

But if you're patient for the once in a blue moon updates, I think DC is worth it.