The Whiteboard Author(s) Doc Nickel Website http://www.the-whiteboard.com/ Current status / schedule Updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Launch date July 18, 2002
The Whiteboard is a paintball webcomic created by "Doc" Nickel, an Alaskan airsmith. It has been collected into five print books to date: The Whiteboard: Digitally Remastered (2005) [ISBN 1-59971-219-9], The Whiteboard: Untapped Potential (2006), The Whiteboard: Hit It Again! (2007), The Whiteboard: Target-Rich Environment (2009), and You Only Ref Twice (2010). A special full-page color The Whiteboard was also featured in Paintball Games International magazines' special "What Paintball Gear?" issue in 2003. In 2004, the Russian magazine пейнтбол (Paintball) printed  several translated versions of early TWB strips.
The first strip was created on July 18, 2002, using a dry-erase board:
I'd just installed the board in the shop, and on a whim I scribbled up this comic, snapped a pic and posted it in the forum. The forum regulars liked it, so I drew a couple more and posted those as well. -Doc Nickel
The difficulty in photographing the shiny whiteboard surface, and the limitations of the single-panel format led to the change to a more conventional pen-and-ink three panel layout. The strip was originally based on personal anecdotes collected while running a paintball shop, but it has evolved into a comic with many unique characters and storylines receiving over 400,000 unique visitors a month.
TWB was never intended to be a furry strip. Besides the fact it wasn't intended to be a regular feature in the first place, polar bear was chosen simply as a clearly-Alaskan icon, and as a stereotypically bad-tempered, grumpy sort. I mean, would you want to tell a grumpy bear that you broke your marker and need it fixed by Friday? When I started thinking about a regular-feature strip, I started planning the usual fish out of water gags; customers surprised at a bear working the counter, calling Fish & Game who would come and tranquilize him and try to transplant him back to the arctic, yadda yadda. I thought those jokes were too clichéd, however, and wanted to focus on the shop/customer jokes, which is why I drew the original comic in the first place. -Doc Nickel
- Doc is a Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). Originally intended as an Avatar of the author, Doc has evolved into a unique character. As such, he's the boss. The big brain. The head honcho. King of the ice floe. Owns and operates an as-yet unnamed paintball store, basically just as a dodge to get to play with wild toys and build cool gadgets. Has an affinity for Mountain Dew, big wooden mallets and Autocockers. Can hear a leaky 3-way or maladjusted ram snap-ring at forty meters, and carries around vertical mills like other people carry a Leatherman.
- (Jolly) Roger is a Raccoon (Procyon lotor). He's a computer geek, programmer and electronic transmogrifier. Often the voice of reason when new projects are contemplated, but occasionally the one wondering aloud where they can get some Thorium and a couple of particle accelerators. Has been known to troubleshoot electropneumatic software over the phone, on the field, and under fire. Has recently started testing active camouflage of his own design.
- Swamp Fox (Swampy) is a subspecies of Red Fox local to the Kenai Peninsula (Vulpes vulpes kenaiensis). He's your typical laid-back rec player. Swampy is good but not great, and thinks an automag is plenty "high tech" for him. A regular hangout at the shop and frequent bystander when a new gadget gets tested, he's usually the first one to call the fire department. Doesn't mind helping sweep up the debris. Got his nickname from the American Revolutionary leader brigadier-general Francis Marion, known as The Swamp Fox
- Bandit is a Ferret (Mustela furo). One of the best out there, he seems to have been born with a marker in his hand. Skinny and fast, he's out on the field just for fun. Plays pump and stock, even in tournaments, and truly believes in the adage of one shot, one kill. He can't understand why somebody might need five 9-volts and a thousand paintballs for a single game. Can hide behind small twigs and uses Sup'Air inflation tubes like other players use the "snake". Owns only one marker, and knows how to use it. One of the few characters in the strip whose specific marker of choice is clear, the CCI Phantom in Vertical Stock Class configuration.
- Snowshoe (Shoey or Shoe) is a Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis). More of a tourney player, Shoe prefers the fast-paced, paint-flyin' games. He's usually got the newest marker he can afford, but often has to be dissuaded from buying the latest overhyped gadget or trading the old one in 'cause new ones are nickeled. Between game days, he can usually be found at the Shop watching paintball videos or flipping through the latest fliers and catalogs.
- Jinx is an Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus). Jimmy's the new kid in town, and new to the sport as well. Strangely enough, not everyone thinks that exposure to the regular Crew is necessarily a 'bad' thing. That remains to be seen. He lives with his mother, father, four older sisters and four younger sisters, being the only boy of the couple.
- Rainman is a Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus). Semiserious tourney wannabe, though he spends more time practicing his 'trash talk' than his snapshots. A decent player, but worries more about appearing a professional player than actually being a pro. Yes, he knows he has a famous profile.
- Red is a subspecies of Red Fox local to Alaska and northern Canada (Vulpes vulpes alascensis). He owns the local Paintball Field, and runs it with the help of the Crew and various volunteers. Genuinely wants the customers to have fun, but won't put up with kids who want to "bend" the rules or can't learn to play safely. Like Bandit, he spends no time fussing with fancy markers. On the rare days when he does play, he perfers to pull out a box of rusty Nel-Spot parts and scrap one together.
- Jake is a Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis). He's laid back and easygoing... at least 'til he gets on the field, where he's confident and aggressive. Few players will risk bunkering him after seeing what happened when Bandit got the drop on him during a woodsball game.
- Bruno is a Brown Bear (Ursus arctos). Bruno's a bit older than the usual crowd, a little slower and not able to tuck or hide quite as well... But he makes it up in spades by being a devious, methodical and downright sneaky bastard. A fan of old pumps, he sometimes uses a semiauto just so he's not quite as sore in the morning.
- Sandy is a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes). She's the new office girl. Starting out as an accidental hire after a party, she managed to put Doc's paperwork in some semblance of order, which came as a surprise to everyone since even disaster-recovery specialists said that would require heavy machinery, high explosives and UN approval. Knew absolutely nothing about the sport when she first arrived, but she's learning.
- Tawny is a Bobcat (Lynx rufus). She's Snowshoe's girlfriend. Shoey won't admit it, but if she wasn't keeping his gear cleaned and fixed, he'd never make it to the starting gate in time. He also won't admit she's a better player, and she'll let him win.
- Pirta (PJ) is a Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia). She's a waitress at the Thai-takeout place down the street, and got roped in by the guys as they were fleeing the UN, US Army, and most of the Alaska National Guard after they fired a refrigerator 500 ft. though the air, landed it in front of the restaurant, and Doc's homemade Mountain Dew started eating through the asphalt. Pirta had only known of the shop antics from what the EMTs and firemen told her when they'd come in after another call. That is, until she found out an old friend worked there...
- Howie Gray Wolf (Canis lupus). He's the owner of a Bar & Grill on the highway known as Howie's. He has a mysterious past which hasn't been disclosed yet. The crew frequently stop by Howie's after playing on Red's Field before returning home.
- Larry and Darryl Humans (Homo sapiens sapiens). Two semi-regular players at Red's. They are there for humor, notably when Larry brought paint grenades or when Roger shot Darryl with a tranquilizer "powerful enough to stop a charging rhino."
- Packrat is a Woodrat (Neotoma sp.). So far only seen in one story arc, he's a regular player at an 'outlaw' field where normal paintball rules don't apply. After tricking Tawny and Sandy into being body shields and constantly calling Tawny "toots", his spine was injured because Tawny threw him through the air (where he also scored many hits). A sneaky, dirty adversary on the field; other than that, not much of him is known other than he likes woodsball and being a trickster.
- Gino is a Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Loves beer and poker and accidentally scares the others through his looks alone. In doing so, he set Jake's "self defense mechanism" off, resulting in Jake getting a trip to the washing machine and being labeled biological warfare by Doc's security system.
- Kasi is a Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). She's about the age of Jinx and they seem to be friends. Kasi is also the daughter of Howie's actual girlfriend. This girl appears sporadically during the comic and has been suggested by Doc that she's got a crush on Jinx.
- Dunc is a Cougar (Puma concolor). He works with Jake at the bank. Dunc felt immediate attraction for Pirta when she went along with Sandy and Tawny to Jake's job asking him to coach them.
- Mr. Quisenberry is a Lion (Panthera leo). He is the boss of Jake and Dunc at the bank and seems to be particularly strict with his employees.
The author has a humorous look at how a typical strip is created on his site.
Characters from and references to The Whiteboard have been featured in the following strips by other authors:
- November 2, 2004 in Weak-End Warriors.
- Jan 17, 2005 in Freefall.
- April 22, 2005 in Register One.
- October 20, 2005 in Schlock Mercenary.
- September 4, 2006 in The KAMics.
- October 15, 2006 in RevolverComic (Spanish).
- November 24, 2006 in Carry On.
- April 23, 2007 in Evil Overlords United.
- January 15, 2006 in Suicide for Hire.
- June 24, 2007 in Suicide for Hire.
- August 24, 2007 in CameoComic.
- September 27, 2007 in Evil Overlords United.
- March 1, 2008 in PvP.
- March 4, 2008 in Cross-Time Cafe.
- December 12, 2008 in The KAMics.
- February 6, 2009 in Air Force Blues.
- March 25, 2009 in Magical Misfits.
- April 2, 2010 in Freefall.
- August 21, 2011 in CameoComic.
The Whiteboard has itself done cameos of characters from over a hundred other webcomics, usually during the annuarly Halloween parties.
Howard Tayler, author of Schlock Mercenary, wrote of The Whiteboard: "If you’re not already reading The Whiteboard as part of your daily trawl, I hope it’s not because you think the comic is only funny to paintballers. I’ve only paintballed once (an experience I found miserable) and the comic is one of my favorites."
April Fools' Day
In April Fools' Day of 2011, the comic strip of the day and its archive were replaced by Rick O'Shay comic.
- ^ Paintball Games International's "What Paintball Gear" Annual 2003, pg. 194
- ^ "пейнтбол" Summer 2004 issue, pg. 48
- ^ Project Wonderful stats. http://www.projectwonderful.com/advertisehere.php?id=17739&type=5
- ^ Tayler, Howard (August 16, 2006). "This run of The Whiteboard needs your attention". http://www.schlockmercenary.com/blog/index.php/2006/08/16/this-run-of-the-whiteboard-needs-your-attention/
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