Tim van de Vall has been drawing and writing comic strips almost his entire life. He was born in 1987 in the Netherlands. He moved to the USA when he was four. He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2010.
After spending a short while working as an illustrator for an ad agency in Atlanta, Tim started his own small online business, Tim’s Printables, a website providing educational illustrations and materials for students, parents and teachers.
Around 2014 Tim started thinking about a comic strip about a hunter-gatherer robot. After several iterations, in 2016 he started the comic strip Ergo.
Ergo centers around a twelve-year old entrepreneur named George Ergo, who is determined to change the world with his fantastic inventions.
He starts a company, Ergo Industries, and builds a robot assistant named Arrowbot to help him.
With the ability to learn at superhuman speeds, Arrowbot analyzes all of human history, and comes to a stunning conclusion: human beings were happiest living as hunter-gatherers. Much to George’s dismay, Arrowbot takes to the trees.
As Ergo Industries continues to grow, George begins to pursue more daring ventures into space travel, genetics, and robotics.
Meanwhile, George’s younger sister, Tessa, happily watches her brother work. While her ambitious brother races from goal to goal, Tessa spends her time drawing, painting, and daydreaming, ever in the present, and without a care in the world.
George’s father, Rick Ergo, watches his son’s far-fetched plans unfold with mild amusement. Sometimes he lends a word of sound advice, but most of the time he’s behind his old 1942 Royal typewriter, writing short stories.
George’s Mother, Sarah Ergo, shows more concern about George’s endeavors than her laid-back husband. George’s antics often cause her a great deal of stress. After a busy day working as a veterinarian at the Ergo Animal clinic, she’s hardly amused when she discovers George’s latest projects, which often end up exploding or causing damage in some bizarre and unexpected manner.
As George’s success starts to take form, he begins to be tempted by greed and power. Meanwhile he struggles constantly between his restless ambition and the realization that there’s more to life than wealth and work.
Day after day, George and the rest of the Ergo family discover what it means to be a family in a fast-paced modern age, where so much is possible. They learn how to handle the complexity of the day, and, often thanks to the observations of a little yellow robot, what it means to be human.
The first Ergo comic strip! Well, I actually drew the strip “Meet George Ergo” first, but I felt that this Sunday strip best sums up the overall feel of the comic, because it involves all main human characters. This strip, like many of the other strips, went through several style iterations before I found the look I was truly happy with.
One thing I feel this particular comic strip does well: It establishes that the events occurring in the panels are real. That is, they are not merely part of a child’s imagination. When we see George building a particle accelerator out of hamster tubes, he’s really building a functional particle accelerator, not just pretending that it functions.
In fiction, I enjoy stories where the character’s actions have actual consequences, and where the characters change and develop over time and reflect on their previous adventures. I remember reading about Jeff Smith’s comic epic “Bone.” I believe he had a similar opinion. In many comics, the characters reset after each adventure. Everything goes back to a static status quo. Perhaps in some ways this is comforting for the reader, but it also detracts from some sort of momentum that can be built up over story arcs.