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Malki !, David

Entry updated 21 December 2023. Tagged: Artist, Author, Comics, Game.

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Working name of US author, cartoonist, book and game designer, and former film trailer editor David Malki (?    -    ), who describes the unexplained exclamation mark following his surname as an "honorific" analogous to Jr or PhD. He is best known for the popular web-Comic Wondermark, published since May 2003, which featured in the early online magazine Flak and in the print edition of the Satire venue The Onion until 2008; it continues to appear online [see links below], with two new multi-panel strips typically being added each week for many years. Apparently owing to work commitments in game design, the site remained static for some six months from Christmas 2021 and was updated only with a "Classic Wondermark" reprint in June 2022; but it became more active in late 2023.

Somewhat after the manner of Terry Gilliam's animations, Wondermark recombines public-domain engravings and woodcuts from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, plus dialogue balloons more often than not in anachronistic modern idiom; the resulting surreal, whimsical and/or black Humour, frequently with sharp social insights, has an intermittent Steampunk flavour. The strip's cut-and-pasted retro Technology has featured Airships and one-man flying Machines, massive retro Computers, domestic Cryonics projects, Cyborg animals with implanted wheels, ponderous Victorian mechanisms to access the Internet, weird Inventions, a variety of Robots, and ramshackle Time Machines. Further recurring items of sf interest include the murderous Alien Gax from planet Gax (a Shapeshifter) and such chimerical Monsters as the dread piranhamoose. Several Wondermark collections have appeared, beginning with The Annotated Wondermark (graph coll 2004), assembling the first 100 strips. These alphabetically titled volumes all include a selection of "failed" strips not published online, plus (from #2 onward) such additional material as fake period Advertising and a longer bonus story covering multiple pages. The prose Dispatches from Wondermark Manor, issued in three volumes and assembled as Dispatches from Wondermark Manor: The Compleat Trilogy (omni 2011) is a broad and perhaps overly verbose Parody of melodramatic Victorian adventure yarns.

With Ryan North and Matthew Bennardo, Malki! edited Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die (anth 2010), whose titular Precognition Machine infallibly forecasts how – though not when – anyone who consults it will die. This device also features in a spinoff Card Game designed by the same team, Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination (2014), whose players must work to fulfil such predictions, however unlikely – an actual example being death by banana peel on a Space Station. [DRL]

David Malki

born 21 September 1980




Wondermark Manor

works as editor


Machine of Death


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