Ghost In The Machine

Still testing with sketching on paper first.  It cuts down my sketch time by like half an hour.

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Discussion (247) ¬

  1. Mika

    Ha! who ever said those things don’t work!

    • Mika

      Now HP and XKCD need to do a comic swap!

      • dalonewolf25

        Alt-Text: Pre-empting the same joke that XKCD will eventually make

      • Cannon Fodder

        If they do a comic swap, I’ll be happy for a month.

        • Sleet

          I’d actually be more interested in seeing how Randall would do Housepets! rather than the other way around.

          It’d never happen though.

      • Argent Stonecutter

        XKCD would have made a joke about netcat.

    • xhunterko

      Well, this is housepets we’re talking here.

  2. Darcin

    So then what happens if you get a Blue Screen of Death with a Ouija board?

    • Mika

      Spell out Ctl-Alt-Del?

      • SamBlob

        …and hope you don’t end up with Cthulhu…

        • Nia

          Yeah, he’s really cranky when it comes to broken Ouija boards, better if you’ll get Satan. Tleast he can help out, an even treats to a beer

          • Lupus

            I regret getting Windows Vista on my Ouija board… The RAM just can’t cope…

          • Argent Stonecutter

            If you replace the ram with a couple of bunnies or a large collie that will leave you enough space.

    • xhunterko

      Uhh, run?

      • dalonewolf25

        No, just stay there and wait for the spirit to tell you what to do.

    • Argent Stonecutter

      Then you hope that your medium knows CPR.

      Psychic CPR.

      And isn’t squeamish about getting ectoplasm on their face.

    • Inu225

      Call the Psychic Hot-line for Oujia-cal support.

    • Nohbody

      With a text interface, it’s more likely one of the umpteen bajillion Linux distributions. ;)

      • Nohbody

        Also, as Argent mentioned below, if it were Windows it’d be “tracert”, not “traceroute”.

      • Argent Stonecutter

        Warning: unreaped zombies in init
        Panic: SIGZOMBIE in kernel mode
        Double Panic
        Tap table to reincarnate

        • Loki Impisi

          $Do not have permission to exorcist
          $sudo exorcist

  3. Lance

    yea! more Sabrina and Grape!

    • Ryufire


      • Silent Kitsune

        Yay! :D

  4. dalonewolf25


    • dalonewolf25

      Wait a minute! Who’s the spirit controlling the Quija board?

      • Alex M.

        I think it’s spelled “Ouija”
        But just a opinion.

        • dalonewolf25

          Oh, my bad. That word I rarely use, so yeah…

        • Argent Stonecutter

          Yep, it’s named after the “Oui” (yes) and “Ja” (yes) across the top. Kind of like a psychic QWERTY.

          • dalonewolf25

            So…in other words, it would originate from Alsace-Lorraine since it mixes both languages of French and German and references gypsies?

      • Val Kilmer Batman

        Nobody. Sabrina’s controlling it. It’s like a supernatural computer, but with only the text command interface.

        • dalonewolf25

          Hmm…are you sure it’s not Pete?

          • Val Kilmer Batman


            (shocked monocle-man is shocked)

            That was… not something that I thought about…

            She DID just input a text command though.

          • sonic id furreh!!!

            but pete is supposed 2 come back at somepoint
            so wai not naow :?

          • Frank

            Unless he’s got a valid avatar, he’s breaking the rules.

            Would be interesting to see what the penalty is for that!

          • sonic id furreh!!!

            he’ll probably get ah BAD thingy dat he haz to do 0.o laike umm……. laike… umm………………………
            …………………. oh never maind ai can’t thnk of anythin

          • Val Kilmer Batman


            I’m pretty sure he’s not allowed to DIRECTLY influence the game, but he can still do it INDIRECTLY. How else is he supposed to get an avatar?

            Also, were YOU the frank that one that prize on Marooned? If so, congrats!

          • Frank

            Uh… yes… but… what reminded you of that now?

          • Val Kilmer Batman

            Nothing. I just saw it before and randomly remembered to congratulate you.

          • sonic id furreh!!!

            wuts marooned :3 ?

          • Frank

            Marooned: Past tense of the verb “Maroon”. To abandon in some deserted, faraway land. Pirates will use islands, but Tom Dellaringa uses Mars. Of course, Mars implies Martians, so hilarity ensues.

      • Hypergenesis

        Sabrina’s pet spirit of course!

  5. Alex M.

    Ghost in the Shell?

    • Ryufire

      I was gonna say the same thing ^^

      • Mukavich

        Me, too! Does this mean that the Laughing Man is forthcoming? He’d be an awesome ghost!

    • Inu225

      I hear a whisper in my ghost.
      It says “Stop watching Mamoru Oshii films!”

    • Argent Stonecutter

      More like Charlie’s “Laundry” novels.

      “Class five Hand of Glory, five charge disposable, mirrored base for coherent emission instead of generalized invisibility … doesn’t seem to be armed, maximum range line-of-sight, activation by designated power word – are you cleared to use these things?” – Bob Howard, in “The Atrocity Archives” by Charlie Stross.

  6. PrivateElliot

    Ah, the trick everyone does.
    Move the marker slightly!

  7. HonorèDerazey

    I honestly like that your sketching first on paper, makes the facial expressions more lively and funny. I really never figured out how anyone could draw by using a mouse, however, unless you use something like Autocad.

    • Alex M.

      This and the last strip have very good expresions.
      Becoming this my favorite arc.

      • Val Kilmer Batman

        Yeah, i personally like them better hand sketched. If it’s faster, and you’re still going to edit digitally anyway, why not?

    • Rick Griffin

      Uh, I use a tablet

      • Val Kilmer Batman

        Here Rick, use the single raised eyebrow technique.

      • Argent Stonecutter

        I prefer the coated caplets.

      • HonorèDerazey

        I have no idea what that is but it sounds professional.

        • Frank

          Imagine, if you will, a computer with a screen you can bring a pencil to, and the pencil mark wil appear on the sheet of the program that is open.

          Or, just imagine a DS without the top screen. :)

          • The Wolf Kin

            Well, there’s also the ones that are basically just a board and don’t project the image. A bit harder to use (as you have to estimate where pressing will appear on the screen), but they still can be used pretty well.

          • Frank

            I think those are called sketchpads. Don’t hold me on that though.

          • HonorèDerazey

            FRANK! YOUR BACK!

          • Argent Stonecutter

            No, that’s his front.

      • Frank

        Why do cartoonists get all the good stuff?

  8. xhunterko

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but trace, at least in flixel/Actionscript 3, means to check to see if something is working or not and the ide places a readout of the data on the debug screen. So, if shees tracing for ghosts, oh, I think I get it.

    • xhunterko

      Well, the delete was bound to happen. But hopefully I still made my point.

      • dalonewolf25

        Actually, you did make a point. However, keep in mind those who were not trying to and were conveniently there to see it.

        • xhunterko

          I’ll be sure and keep that in mind.

      • Val Kilmer Batman

        I missed it.


        Why was it deleted?

        • xhunterko

          It had nothing to do with the comic.

    • Lance

      nope, you didn’t.

      • xhunterko

        You know, I think I’ll do the right thing and not comment to that comment. I can get very, very, very nasty so I’ll just shut up and not get into any more trouble.

        • BeatReaktor


      • Rick Griffin

        Dude, not cool. Stop bickering.

        • xhunterko

          Sorry bout that, I get so upset sometimes when I see something wrong going on that I just react. More often then not it doesn’t have the desired effect.

    • xhunterko

      Excuse me, can I put this here? Call it an explanation if you will.

    • xhunterko
  9. Gamma

    Hmm, the “DNS of the Dead” must have loads of outdated entries. :P

    • Frank

      Name: Nicholas Porpington
      Deathdate: 1492
      Address: Hogwarts castle

      Now what part of that entry is honestly going to have to be updated ever?

      • Keldor

        Can we say “grave robbers”? XD

        • Val Kilmer Batman

          I’m confused.

          Even of somebody robbed his grave, he’s a ghost. Nothing would change.

          • Frank

            Some ghost stories have the unwritten rule that the ghost needs to stay within a certain distance of his grave. If the grave is robbed, well, let’s just say you’re going to get some pretty darn surprized burglars

  10. Falcon01

    I’ve always felt ouija boards are a bit…well…when My brother and I played with one it kept saying “give Tom your snickers bar”…which was odd because we both hate snickers bars and his name is NOT Tom…

    • Pax

      …and twenty years later, you’ll be given a Snickers Bar as a gift and give it to a hungry man on the streets named Tom out of sympathy.


      • Falcon01

        hehe who knows, maybe…

  11. BlueAnubis

    Who ya gonna call?


  12. Val Kilmer Batman


    Is she like… speedtyping on a Ouija board?

    I’m just imagining the pointer thing FLYING across the board in about three seconds.

    • dalonewolf25

      Gravar has failed you, bro….

    • Val Kilmer Batman


      • Alex M.

        Omg you make me laugh very hard…
        That’s why i don’t see HP on my Ipod Touch
        Very hard to write and i always finish clicking on the ads >.<

        • sonic id furreh!!!

          *sigh* ahh val(kilmer) u should just use ah comp.
          ……….. or 1 of does magical ai-pad that can fit into fanny packs :3
          ^(smosh reference)

      • xhunterko


      • Ryufire

        *Gives Val a chocolate Ganache cupcake*

        • dalonewolf25

          Which Val?

          • Val Kilmer Batman

            I suppose eventually, people will switch to Batman or VKB.

            Once they get used to that, though, I shall become…

            ASIMOV’S SIDEBURNS!!!

            Not really.


            I like my name.

          • Argent Stonecutter

            Asimov’s Sideburns were pretty awesome, I gotta admit.

    • Val Kilmer Batman

      Anyway, I notice that Grape is making that “Wait… what was that again?” look you get when you try REALLY hard to remember something.

      So yeah. I wonder what kind of w/m she can sustain on that thing…

  13. dalonewolf25

    Sabrina’s eyes look mildly odd in the last panel, yet it brings out the purpose of her being sneaky in a sense. I think it’s the dimple that you created in her smile, I guess…

    • PrivateElliot

      finally someone agrees with me!

      • dalonewolf25

        Ah, it seems that you fixed it, however…I still think the dimple crease is a bit too corner-ish…just a tiny….little…I’ll stop bickering now.

  14. explosivepotato

    I hated learning the command line interface.

    I pretty much only used it for playing acid tetris.

  15. AceyWinters

    Loving this new look, more ‘catty’ :3

  16. IceKitsune

    Third and Fourth panel Sabrina are awesome.

  17. Thoth

    Not all that notable I suppose, but I get the impression that pencil sketching makes for thinner arms.

    • xhunterko

      I thought I saw something different, but I wasn’t sure and not about to get the artist more mad.

    • Rick Griffin

      Grape’s holding her arms behind her back.

      Sketching on paper makes for more consistent facial structure.

      • xhunterko

        It also makes for bottom of hands covered in lead and holes in paper where many erases are. At least for me anyways. How do you do it though? Sketch on paper, scan, then color digitally?

        • Rick Griffin

          This is why you use quality paper that doesn’t tear from erasers, and also the good white eraser stuff that erases #2 lead cleanly and does not streak or tear.

          Yes, sketch on paper and then scan and the the inking and color digitally

          • Frank

            Huh. I always thought that, when I get a tablet, I’ll be saving time because I’ll be eliminating those steps!

    • Hypergenesis

      If Rick started using paper from the Fox and Peanut reading dilemma, then yes tracing does make thinner arm, else he changed his models to this new one which I personally like better as it looks less popeye-y.

      ((As in the arm-hand sizes are more consistent with the body.))

      • Exranio

        You know the Giant for arms was one o the things a loved about this comic honestly. I will for ever miss it.

        Excuse me whilst I mourn.

  18. Firewolf

    …I gotta say, without the eye lashes, Grape looks like a he.

    • Rick Griffin

      Wow, you got it!

    • Val Kilmer Batman

      Insee it in panel two, if I try, but then, I came into this knowing Grape was a girl, so… yeah.

      I still found it funny that Peanut didn’t know, but mostly because once you know, it becomes obvious. It’s invisible if you don’t, at least in the beginning.

    • Lance

      Hence that’s why Peanut made her eyelashes stand out for her date with maxwell. and why Peanut though she was a he at the beginning of the comic. =3

    • Frank

      Wait, are you comparing Grape and Sabrina?

    • Argent Stonecutter

      I think Grape has a stronger jawline in this strip, too.

  19. Dreama

    Comic swap would make my month. Seriously.
    … I love this.

  20. Inu225

    Thinking of a tool that is simple to use and has not changed much over the years.

    Toilet Paper XD
    Sorry me and my immature mind.

    • SamBlob

      Also the hammer and the axe.

    • Frank

      Actually, toilet paper has changed quite a bit. All those scented toilet papers? Toilet papers without the little dotted cuts? Single-sheet rolls? And don’t get me started on what people used before we invented paper for that specific purpose!

      • Inu225

        You… why… but…
        Ok. Mr. Smartypants *grumble *grumble *arms crossed
        Can you think of any other tool that fits the above description.
        Besides the hammer… and the axe.

        • Frank

          Mice don’t wear pants!
          Well, at least mine doesn’t. Walter Elias would probably disagree.

          • Alex M.

            There is a famous mice around the world, who wears pants.
            You may know of who i’m talking :D

          • dalonewolf25

            *mouse if it’s singular…

            …AND NO, Mickey Mouse is not good for you!

          • Frank

            @Alex M.: Which is why Walter Elias would probably disagree

          • Alex M.

            I was talking about mouses with pants like Mickey Mouse.
            Not the mouses that Walter Elias would disagree.

          • Alex M.

            About Disney my favorite animation is Destino.

          • dalonewolf25

            Huh…The animation makes sense!

          • Frank

            Of course it does. Walter Elias storyboarded it.

    • Alex M.

      The Wheel.
      Even if had changed trough human history, it have the same “desing”
      Don’t count the aesthetic changes.

  21. Elwood Blutarsky

    How does Grape know how to use an EKG Meter?

  22. ctcmjh

    I’m loving the style change Rick. Sketching with paper first makes it seem much better looking. Their fur seems more fluffy.

  23. Valerio

    “traceroute to Max’s embarrassing past”

    • Frank

      I guess that’ll come later, and probably when it’s least appropriate (say, when they’re being chased by something really scary)

      BTW, happy late birthday.

  24. Valerio

    Sabrina for TOTAL WIN! :D

    • Silent Kitsune

      1 Like
      “You Like This” XD

  25. xhunterko

    Just a quick test.

    • xhunterko

      Although I do hope the artist gets a better view. I wanted to wear this for holloween where I work. But our cheap wal-mart doesn’t have anything good like this. Sigh.

  26. Fuzzypaws

    But what if the ghost is encrypted!

    • Argent Stonecutter

      You only get encrypted ghosts in graveyards, unless you’ve got a REALLY old house. And putting crypts on residential properties probably needs a building code waiver. It’s a big pain in the neck.

    • Hypergenesis

      What you worry for is not the encryption but the spirit of troy, the expelled, the squished. . .

  27. BeatReaktor
    • Frank

      Uh… the image you’re linking to is gone

      • BeatReaktor

        Well ya it got taken down for “profanities” not my fault…

        • Frank

          I should’ve been clearer. “The image is gone. What did it say / what did it have to do with today’s strip?”

  28. Tara

    Grape doesn’t quite look right in this strip, or is it just me? :(

    Oh well, the last panel did make me giggle. :3

  29. Argent Stonecutter

    First of all, you don’t do a traceroute until you detect a ghost. You ant to start out with an aether dump, to look for packets of ectoplasm, with a psycap library filter rule to eliminate non-spooky packets (ghosts of dead insects and stuff). Then once you’re working high enough in the sub-aetheric protocol stack, you can use schrodinger’s netcat to re-assemble the psychic addresses of any potential ghosts.

    THEN you can use traceroute… or you can just flood-ping them to hose them off the local net.

  30. Gaboris

    Why not just PING the IP of the supernatural server on the subnet of the house and TA-DA!!! Lucky I study informatics at collage right? (I’m such a nerd right now.) XD

    • Frank

      “Computer science”, Gaboris. Informatics includes statistics and the biological processing of information – at least in English it does.

      Pinging will tell you if the ghost is there, but the lack of a ping may mean he’s simply too tired to bother replying. Traceroute, on the other hand, will tell you how to get to him – or close enough to know what his (shall we say) area of influence is.

      • gaboris


        Okay ye’re right, but you’d think when a pack of ghosts doesn’t have anything to do all it’s afterlife it would take it’s time to reply… Did that make ANY sense? :D

  31. Oren Otter

    A psychic… at a haunted house… using a ouija board. Is she TRYING to get possessed?
    It’s hard to believe, but I’ve roomed with psychics who did stuff this dumb, so I guess i shouldn’t be surprised..

    • Frank

      She’s only a psychic in training

      • Leinad

        well, her being an actual psychic, trained by a god (or somebody seriously powerful) in disguise, no less, would probably lessen he chance of her being posessed. i’m just sayin’

  32. Dakota Lesmercy

    Well.. thats a large word…. is it even allowed?

  33. Argent Stonecutter

    Oh, we know the Ouija CLI isn’t based on Windows. Otherwise it’d be TRACERT.

    • dalonewolf25

      Well, how about Linux?

      • Mukavich

        Doesn’t exactly narrow it down much. Anything not windows nowadays is a Unix-Based operating system. (Both Mac OSX and all the flavors of Linux are based on Unix.) Unless the Ouija board uses an older OS. Perhaps PCDOS or an earlier version of the Mac OS.

        • Argent Stonecutter

          Could be VMS or MVS or VM/CMS or EXEC or AmigaDOS or MUMPS or CDOS or RTE.

  34. ColtECoyote

    oooo! cool comic strip! must watch!

  35. Salenstormwing

    Wait till she spells out “DEL C:/Zombie/Goasts/InAHouse” on the board next.

    • xhunterko

      File allocations wrong there. It’d be:



      Since InTheHouse is the main location of where any supernatural activity would be located. Technically though, I’m wrong still. It’d be more OnTheProperty just to be sure and cover everything.

    • Argent Stonecutter

      Depends on how old the ghosts are. It might be “PIP [100,100]HOUSE.GST/DE/PU” or even “@DELETE BABYLONGARDENS*HOUSE/GHOST.SYM” followed by “@COPY,P MAMYLONGARDENS*HOUSE”

    • Val Kilmer Batman


      and then he killed the zombee goasts and blew up the house an they were happy.

      And the pants were dead.


    • Argent Stonecutter


      • Frank

        ORA 10-13 error: Table “self” has no “nearby-houses” field

  36. tyrax10

    omg awsomness great work

  37. Kamon

    awsome comic

  38. Argent Stonecutter

    Very nice, it looks like you have a lot more control with actual paper and pencil.

    • xhunterko

      That’s usually the case. Though peole who still do things digitally do awesome stuff.

  39. FerreTrip

    I don’t get it…after glancing at a Wikipedia article, does this mean she just entered a computer command to search for ghosts using a ouija board?

    Wait, sketching on paper seriously cuts down on your sketch time THAT MUCH?! Wow…Okay, I’m definitely gonna have to use paper again…I think THAT’S the style difference that’s been bugging me since this arc started, then.

  40. sonic id furreh!!!

    gwape looks vewwy boy-ish in thins strip… ai wonder wai

  41. sonic id furreh!!!

    fer sumreason ai think sumthin lake the poulter gist (that weird movie w/ dat short ladie that say “ALL ARE WELCOME” ovr and over) will happen

  42. PuDdy15

    Grape: oh okk then… uh can ai write…traceroute Ghouls?

    Sabrina: ok now ur jus bein stupid.. we all know dat ghouls dont exist.. sides it takes skill and technique

    Grape: but u dink dat ghosts are real an not ghouls?

    Sabrina: yea.. pretty much..

    Grape: *stares at Sabrina coldly* NON BELIEVER! … humph fine well at least let me try…

    Sabrina: but u…. u need skill….

    Grape: yea! ai did it! ^_^

    Sabrina: …….

  43. Frank

    That’s not going to work, Sabrina. You need to write “Traceroute

  44. Silver Dragon

    As long as you don’t spell out U-M-B-R-E-L-L-A then you’ll be fine.

  45. WingedWolfGirl

    Bad juju,
    get off the furniture.

  46. NexusWulf

    pretty interresting indeedz

  47. Silver Dragon ordinence

    quick tidbit of a song featuring…

    ZACH THE BUNNY aka(Bun bun bunny bun)

  48. pet_panda

    is it me or is grape not looking at sabrina in the last panel

    • Argent Stonecutter

      Grape does have a kind of thousand yard stare thing going there, doesn’t she.

  49. BeatReaktor

    Step 1. Acquire Ouija Board
    Step 2. ???????
    Step 3. Profit!

    • NexusWulf

      hey i was to write this >:|

  50. Keeshah

    What? no spider think tanks!

  51. anthroguy101

    This comic is win

  52. lavadog420

    this won’t end well. BTW rick, wat new wit king & fox?

    • Mukavich

      They’ll hook up with Peanut, Tarot, and Marvin. and use their awesome powers of imagination and holodeck skills to scare the bajesus out of everyone?

      Hell, all they have to do is get tarot to suddenly become spirit dragon, and there ya go! Bet won.

  53. Rooth

    Heh! It’s almost like someone challenged you to blend IT and a Ouiji board. Good show. ;)

  54. ReCreate

    OLOL, just now i got the joke in the last panel. xD Awesome

  55. Hoheh

    Wait. That works? Learning is fun.

  56. Sansash

    Funny fact: the name Ouija is derived merely from the French and German words for ‘yes’.

  57. littlebeast

    Good thing you’re using Unix, or this might happen: