[Hitori Dake no Renga, the comic that saves women, children and small animals from fates worse than death.]

Not So Frequently Asked Questions

This is the section where I answer the questions nobody has been writing in and asking repeatedly. If you would actually like to ask a question that nobody has asked yet, please send it to hdnr@floodgap.com.

  • Can I browse past panels?


  • What does hitori dake no renga mean?

    Literally, "one person alone's renga," or, more freely, "one-man linked verse."

    I introduce the concept in "One Man Poetry."

  • What is renga?

    Renga and renku (also referred to as haikai no renga) are Japanese "linked poems," a form of collaborative linked verse. Traditionally these poems were, as the description implies, done by multiple poets, one giving a prompt, and another a response. These poems were classically using a five sound unit/seven sound unit/five sound unit stanza (technically morae in Japanese, a distinction we'll talk about) for the first stanza (the hokku) and a 7-7 sound unit second stanza called the waki. Subsequent stanzas have their own special terms, but these first two are obligatory.

    Thus, you'll notice every panel has a 5-7-5 and a 7-7, clearly marked (a few have a couple sets). That's the central gag.

    There are certain customs and traditions about how the various stanzas of formal renga should be formed, which I haven't strictly observed here; the 5-7-5 stanza, of course, has taken on a life of its own and is today the well-known modern haiku. There is more about the technical construction of formal renga in this very complete Wikipedia entry.

  • Isn't this a little weird?

    Sure. It's consciously something different than your usual webcomic, a little mix of literature, graphic art and pop culture. My aim is your nerdy intellectual side. If you don't have one, that's okay. This site will help you develop it.

  • If renga is collaborative, how can this be renga?

    Solitary renga like this one have always existed, though strictly speaking they would be part of the more general category of tanka. However, I have endeavoured (wherever possible) to keep the prompt-response format with sharp division between the stanzas and preserve the flavour of a true collaborative renga (in this case reminiscent of multiple personality disorder), plus infect these poems with the gleefully austere doggerel style that especially characterizes haikai no renga (for a particularly snarky vulgar example, see the renku Wikipedia entry). For that reason, these poems are best rated PG.

  • Your syllabification is weird. (Or wrong.)

    No, it isn't (I don't think). One problem is that English speakers who don't understand the difference between morae and syllables will run multiple phonemes together into valid English syllables when there are a greater number of actual Japanese morae. For example, most English speakers would see haiku as two syllables, haiy-KOOH, but in Japanese it would be three morae ha-i-ku. Similarly, most English speakers would see n as part of the coda of a syllable, rendering renga as REN-gah, but in Japanese it also has three morae re-n-ga.

    You'll notice I have avoided defining what a mora actually is, and in fact nobody has a good formal definition (this is me speaking as someone with a Bachelor's in linguistics) except to say that they are not syllables as we think of them in English. In fact, syllables may have one or multiple morae.

    The modern English haiku form gets around this problem by using syllables as the sound unit, which virtually all English speakers can instinctively parse, but syllabification between dialects naturally can vary. For example, idea in my particular idiolect (Californian with an Australian national mother) has three syllables. Since I'm the poet, my diction is always the correct one by definition, darn you all, but where there is likely to be contention I will use diereses to mark off syllables. For Japanese words where morae should be counted instead, I have parsed them out for the reader. However, if I have made a mathematical error, I would appreciate the correction.

  • I love your work. I would like to reprint it. Possibly even send you money. Maybe.

    HDNR is under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. In a nutshell, this means you have implicit permission to redistribute my original work, or to screw around with it, provided you give me credit and aren't doing it for money.

    Blogs and stuff like that are also okay, even if you are making money on the blog (you big fat liar), as long as you aren't charging people to look at it and credit is given. A link back is appreciated and so is hosting a copy of the panel on your own server. I'd like to hear about it, of course, but you still have my implicit blessing.

    If you are doing it for money, like merchandise you intend to sell or a newspaper with paid circulation or some such thing, I'll probably still let you do it assuming you're not putting them into a book and selling them as an item (unless you give me a big piece of the action), but you will need to get permission from me first by mailing hdnr@floodgap.com and depending on your circulation and use I may ask for a formal arrangement to be made.

    I put my original work in bold for a reason: in some of these panels I use artwork that is the copyrighted property of other people. I believe this use to be appropriate and legal under the concept of fair use in the United States for purposes of social commentary, but that doesn't mean your use will be construed the same and I can't give permission for images I didn't own in the first place. For panels using those images, permission for their use will need to be secured separately, if required, and you will need to make the judgment call for yourself to determine if it is. If you aren't sure about the sources for something I've done, I will be happy to tell you.

  • Are you Japanese?


  • Do you spend too much time listening to J-Pop?

    Probably. Mostly anime OSTs though.

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All art and verse except where noted are copyright © 2008-2010, Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved.
Certain images may be copyrighted by other parties and appear here under fair use in the spirit of social commentary. They remain the property of their respective holders.

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