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'Sluggy Freelance' Celebrates 10 Years on the Web

When the world was first introduced to the Web comic Sluggy Freelance, a character named Riff had summoned the devil online. Riff discovered that the only way to get Satan out of his computer was playing an endless loop of Alanis Morrisette's music.

These kinds of zany situations are typical for Sluggy Freelance characters, who have found themselves crossing into other dimensions and fighting aliens, among other adventures. Creator and illustrator Pete Abrams celebrates a decade of his Internet comic this weekend.

The strip started as a gag-a-day comic, but Abrams says he soon found himself creating longer, more involved story lines. The strip's length grew — today it can reach up to 20 panels — along with its audience, which numbers around 100,000 readers.

Characters took on lives of their own. Riff's friend, Torg, a former Web designer, started as an easygoing everyman, but soon became one of the strip's heroes. Characters like Zoe and Gwynn each have their own peculiarities, and two talking animals named Bunbun and Kiki are featured prominently in story lines.

Abrams says that his illustrations are more polished than when he started. "When I first started Sluggy it was really a very quick sketchy style," Abrams says. "I had the right number of fingers, but maybe the arms were two different lengths."

Though the strip's devoted fans, called "Sluggites," devour Abrams' books, T-shirts and plush toys, Abrams says he'll never put the strip into newspaper syndication because he doesn't want to forfeit editorial control.

Abrams tells Liane Hansen how his Web comic has evolved over the years.

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