- Creator(s): Graham L. Wilson
- Website(s): http://icculus.org/mwm/symel/
- Update Schedule: No set update rate
- Launch Date: January 1, 2006
- End date: February 10, 2007 (original run)
- Genre: Geek Humor/Parody
Symel is a free content Internet cartoon project founded by Graham Lawrence Wilson and first created on January 1, 2006. The cartoons follow a collection of penguins (with a female named Symel being the star character) living in the Antarctic wastes. These penguins look like the Linux Kernel mascot Tux, with inaccurate yellow beaks and feet, and are out spoken supporters of free software. Singularly, the government of the penguins is in the form of a "Quakeocracy" in which the leader (Quakemaster) is selected through a Quake III Arena tournament. There is a source of conflict between the penguins and a group of American soldiers stationed at a near by military and research base (called Little America after the real life establishment). The penguins also meet trouble from a Killer Whale or attempts by the software industry against their free software views.
Sometimes the cartoons take the form of parodies of advertisements such as one where a Fido Solutions holiday commercial was changed to make Santa into a cruel and malicious slave driver with a violent temper (this Santa is now an offical character; there was also a whole page dedicated to humourous advertisement modifications). There is also one cross-over into another fictional universe, where the Bug Fairy from Casey and Andy torments Symel (also appearing later when Symel is trying to work on a fire works launcher).
The uploaded cartoons are in the from of animated GIFs, and feature slides showing the character's actions frame-by-frame. Speech was provided by it being written out in text with a line pointing towards the speaker. The original cartoons were drawn in KoulourPaint and animated with a small freeware tool with a more abstract and wavy art style. At the end of 2006 these character templates where replaced with more symmetrical and conventional art styles. In 2007 and 2008 he experimented with more advanced animations, oddly enough created with the Game Maker software creation tool. These include some remakes of the original GIFs and new adventures, none of these have been uploaded. In 2008 the site and created GIFs were taken down and the website was redone to "to remove antiquated or potently misleading information." The new site was finished and uploaded in January 2009 but a account corruption lead to it coming down in the summer.
The cartoonist has now abandoned Game Maker and is building a custom made animation tool for himself to use, mostly due to resource intensiveness of Game Maker and his own tool running on the GNU/Linux operating system. The tool is called Piga Animator and is being made under his and his twin brother's development organization Piga Software. This is intended to be used for a fully animated special called Symel: Please, Please, be Fair Use!, which will feature a grand parody of science fiction, old wikipedia:shareware computer games and various aspects of mass and cult media. Work on smaller animations is being considered for tools testing as well. Even as development occurs on Animator, work on character templates and script writing continues - though not as priority project.
On June 1, 2011 the Symel website was re-launched as a sub-section of the new website for Malcolm Wilson Multimedia: the creator of Brogo and contributor to various other projects. The current cartoons are released under the latest version of the GNU Free Documentation License as is a Symel play script and the text of the website (also under GNU Verbatim). There was also uploaded on the old site in a sub-directory (AntarcticEx) a small Internet adventure game written in HTML called Symel: Antarctic Explorer where players would take the role of the Symel and explore through various areas of the cartoon's setting (graphics made in ASCII text art), there was also an easter egg room in the form of "adasda.html". As of the new site launch, this game is no longer available.