Academy 118 Webcomic header illustration


I’m Ava Pun and this is my webcomic! Follow the adventures of the elements of the periodic table here at Academy 118, a strange school located at the heart of the universe.

Who is this comic for?

Anybody of any age who loves science!

How often does this comic update?

Every Monday (with some non-zero probability)!

Where do I start reading?

Academy 118 consists of a series of comic episodes. Each episode can be anywhere from 1 to 20+ pages long and is self-contained—you don’t have to read them in order. Clicking on an episode’s title will take you to the first page of that episode. Past episodes can be found in the archive page.

How did Academy 118 get started?

The first stirrings of what would later become Academy 118 began in December 2014 when I was home sick with the flu. Inspired by this xkcd, it was initially a fantasy story simply named 118 in which characters had the power to control the chemical elements. The current Academy 118, with its periodic table personifications, was conceived in August 2015 and has nothing in common with 118 but the name.

I started working on Academy 118’s website in March 2016. Unfortunately, I also injured my wrist that year (for an unrelated reason) and took a break from drawing for a while. After spending the next two years focusing on school, I finally finished the site in December 2018, and here we are today!

So are you, like, a chemist or something?

Nah! I’m actually studying computer science at the University of Waterloo, but I’ve always been fascinated by the periodic table. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the stories behind the elements as well as their properties and unusual applications—for example, did you know that antimony is used in camouflage paints?

Some great resources I used while doing research for this comic:

I want to make my own webcomic/website too! How did you do it?

I was surprised at how little information I could find online about making webcomic sites—most of the stuff I found was just drawing or writing advice.

Making a webcomic is really not that difficult! First of all, you’ll need to set up a website:

  1. Get a machine on which to host your site.
  2. Set up a web server on that machine (the two most commonly used web server softwares are Apache and nginx). When that’s done, you should be able to see some sort of default webpage when you type your machine’s IP address into your web browser.
  3. Buy a domain name and link it to your machine’s IP address. Now you should be able to see the default webpage when you type in that domain name.
  4. Learn HTML and CSS to make that webpage look pretty. HTML is for modifying structure (text boxes, images, headers/footers), while CSS is for modifying appearance (colours, fonts, backgrounds).
  5. You’re done!
Secondly, you’ll need some sort of system that allows you to display the comic title and navigate to the previous and next comic pages. I couldn’t get any of the ones I found online to work (why do these dependencies have dependencies that have dependencies???), so I just made my own messy custom webcomic engine thrown together five minutes after learning PHP. Feel free to use that one or code your own. Also, remember that this is just how I made the site—I’m sure that there are many other (probably better) methods.

If you don’t want to learn how to code—it can be frustrating at times—there are sites that will do all the hosting and webcomic engine-ing for you (just google “webcomic sites”). There are also some free “drag-and-drop” website builders out there, but none of the ones I’ve used were really suited for making webcomics.

What else do you do?

I love competitive programming and was honoured to represent Canada at the International Olympiad in Informatics 2018! I also do puzzlehunts and occasionally write electronic music inspired by science.