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One comic until apocalypse. The next one is fairly labor intensive since I'm trying to draw above my ability (yes this is something artists do.) Friday's post will hearken back to Crisis of Infinite Rummage. One of the rare times I actually have a rough preview: Question No they don't shoot the mom!

137 thoughts on “Fanfickle

  1. Sometimes a romantic plot is stronger when it’s the sub-plot, not the primary plot. Just as with horror and monster movies, the less you give away, the more the audience is drawn in.

    1. And sometimes the lack of a romantic plot of any kind makes something work better. For instance, Star Trek First Contact originally intended to have Picard go planetside while Riker stayed on the ship for all the action scenes and a romantic sub-plot. In the end their positions switched and the romance idea just didn’t happen but this ended up working in the movie’s favor. It made the scenes with emotional development stronger and, let’s face it, a romantic sub-pot in any story that involves time travel is just kind of icky. At some point you’re sleeping with a distant descendant who may have be older than you are.

      1. I don’t think you meant descendant. That word means a person that results primarily from your sexual activity.
        Lineal descendant, a consanguinous (i.e. biological) relative directly related to a person; or
        Collateral descendant, a relative descended from a brother or sister of an ancestor.

        Unless your intent was more risque then I thought it was based on earlier posts. And yes Anal-retentive IS hyphenated.

        Proud member of the Grammar Police since 1957 and Chair person of the Department of Redundancy Department.
        This would refer to a person you met in the future; Ancestor or ascendant would be a more accurate term for a relation met whilst time traveling to your past.

    2. I’m not sure I have any comment/opinion on degree it works better or worse, but a romantic subplot is frequently used as the tie between otherwise separate stories. Happens on TV shows a lot, but I’ve seen it in books too.

    1. Let’s not rush to judgement before all the facts are in. The plot B arcs may actually magically increase the readers’ cholesterol. We just don’t know yet.

  2. First of all the pic of The Question and Batwoman is awesome.

    Secondly, after all the crap Kat gave Damien how does she not see how creepy and/or predatory HER actions can be construed?

    C’mon, bring back Alex. At least he perved on/intended to corrupt people WHO WERE OF LEGAL AGE. I am so sad I ever used her as an avatar.

    1. I re-read the last strip and noticed the Squid Boy and Goth Girl poster, awesome! That’s one of my favorite pieces on your DA Chris. (And when I first started reading Shotgun Shuffle it was the header image for the site. I am still waiting for those two to make an appearance in the comic.)

        1. @Mr. Blue: He refers to “Scott the Dick” from South Park, who was possibly the least popular person in Canada.

      1. That’s probably very true.

        Which reminds me! Let’s see here, hypocrite, hypocrite, aha! There it is. One more and I may have a BINGO on Kat’s sociopath card.

        1. I’d say the ‘narcissistic disregard of how one’s actions impact others’ is at least half covered.

      1. Well, realistically, show me a fifteen year old that doesn’t know a good amount about sex, and I’ll show you a brainwashed homeschooled fool who thinks the Earth is 6,500 years old.

        But yeah, Kat’s over the line.

    1. She’s using the term “romance” and later saying there’s the inclusion of “romance or sex” so we don’t necessarily know that she’s planning/wants anything that would properly be considered smut.

      That being said, a 23 year old getting a 15 year old to draw and write a comic while the 23 year old watches, which includes two characters that the two of them each appear to have some degree of emotional investment in (perhaps even identify with) and then insisting the 15 year old add a romantic angle is fantastically maladjusted in so many ways. So not arguing it’s good or innocuous, but smut may not be the direction of screwed up it’s going in.

    1. I can only think of one word for this kind of creepiness, and it’s “grooming.” Kat needs to have a serious sit-down talk with Chris Hansen.

      1. Well, maybe. I know it’s grooming if she does this for three years and then makes a move on or after Pumpkin’s 18th birthday. If she’s not that patient this may be more contributing to the delinquency of a minor being slapped on the statutory rape or child molestation charges. I’m not really sure of the finer details here, just guessing.

  3. Methinks Kat is a frustrated and lonely young woman with just a weeee bit of a blind spot when it comes to how her own actions are perceived. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see that Pumpkin doesn’t think fanfic has to be synonymous with smut or romance.

        1. Someone once told me that bags under the eyes were a sign of drug use. Don’t know if that’s what Rusche is going for here.

        2. Sleep deprivation will do it as well. Especially long term/chronic periods of not getting enough sleep.

        3. I can usually be a sign of general un-health. You know like if you stay up late and don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis or eat junk food or don’t drink a lot of water. I’m also 23 with bags under my eyes and I’m aware that I’m not as healthy as I could be.

      1. Yeah, very generous perception, but still quite possible and something I’ve been wondering about. She’s definitely shown blinds spots for herself and her apparent lack of a coherent plan to move her agenda with Pumpkin forward is also potentially a sign. I’ve been considering it less and less likely, but still hold it as a possibility.

  4. Ellie and Quinn were walking home, back to their apartment after a long day of bickering about the council of Bhrent Wookies.
    It was a dark and stormy night, Quinn’s purple dress was half off (50% the sale price. Eyes up here you pervs.) The duo united in working justice through bending had a busy day in tracking down the bespectacled bearded one known to Lakeland as the Panhandler.

    They took a turn down a dark, poorly lit alleyways in hopes to avoid the drenching downpour. This choice only made things worse. For standing there was their arch-nemisis.

    1. The menace known only as the hipster stood there, cloaked in shadow and the stench of his ironic rebellion against personal hygeine. The rain water managed to trickle through his unkept hair and scraggly beard without lessening the impression that both were greasy. You two,” he rasped, his voice coarse with rage. “You two cost me everything!”

      Quinn arched an eyebrow and began to take a step forward. “Oh no you don’t,” Ellie said, stopping her companion. “You got to do this last time.”

      1. Oh no. No. I may not have the League of Revengencers around any more but that doesn’t mean I’m the Crotch-Kicked Hobo in this piece. I’m not coming back until I get some kind of death ray. Or tank. Or at least some damn explosives. No.

        1. *turns around*

          Damn! I can’t stand fighting in the rain. I still haven’t gotten my pants fixed. Look.
          *Matthew tries to point at the split in his pants. As he does that, he pops his shoulder out of joint, knocking his balance off. He falls over, breaking his arm on the oxygen tank of the old stranger standing nearby.*


        2. Just count yourself lucky if you don’t get a brood of ratches bursting out of your body at an innoportune time (not that I think there’s a particularly favorable time for that to happen).

    2. The reason poured off of the green tank on wheels, rivulets cascading off of the chromed handle held by a crag of flesh. But this flesh held such a hate of our beloved duo. A hate so intense, stream was forming off of his bald pate as the intense heat built in his gaze as he realized he wasn’t alone in this alleyways. He caught the whiff of Pantene and mayonnaise (hold the ham and Swiss on rye). His house slippers turned his evil frame around, and as he did, he crackled evilly. A cackle so evil, you’d think someone had a tank of fricken sharks with frickin lasers on their frackin heads.

    3. The knob of old flesh finished turning around and he noticed the fat bum who put his head on backwards fell off of his oxygen tank. He noticed the smelly hipster with the borken glasses standing at the other end of the alleyways. At just that time, a flash of lighting lit the entire alley.

      Ellie turned to face the hygienically challenged hipster as Quinn squared off her stance against the old man tired himself with his laughing. Neither of the girls acknowledged the backwards burglar until his arm was borken. Quinn sneered, Ellie’s eye lingered on the injured man as she took in her surroundings.

      Alex and Tired Guy acknowledged each other with a chin jut and saying, “‘sup” at the same time.

      1. I think I have to stand up for my avatar at this point.

        Tired Guy is definitely a mean, bitter, vindictive old man generally untroubled by scruples in the pursuit of what he wants. Claiming that he holds Alex in some degree of regard or respect, though? Don’t you think that’s a little too far?

        1. Hey, when has a parody of a fanfic ever have reason?

          Besides, Leonard enacted clause 209 of the Roommate Agreement. I had to work with something, and I couldn’t juggle two things at once. I tried that yesterday as well, and I couldn’t get past five.

        2. No particular spin. I just see Alex as a downward spiral and Tired Guy as a steady degredation. Very different decay functions.

  5. Ok, so get your wallets out and we’ll start taking bets on what villain Rosemary ends up parodying.

    Who does the question typically fight? I don’t know as much about the non-core characters of the DC universe.

    1. The only villain I can think of off the top of my head who she’s fought was Bruno Mannheim. I’m sure there are more, I just don’t follow comics like I used to.

      1. Actually Bruno could work as a stand in for Rosemary. He’s a cannibal so if they play up the food prep side of that aspect of his character Pumpkin could make it work. But I can’t think of anything that match the Claybelliene joke in this scenario.

    2. Methinks Rusche’s statement about Friday being the confrontation suggests there may not be time for that to materialize. Also, with Pumpkin drawing it, I don’t know if she’d be foolish enough to throw grease on that fire or not.

      1. I meant more like- if Pumpkin and Kat are pictured dressed up as superheroes, and then Rosemary walks into the room/scene, who would she be depicted as in comic-land vision.

        Do you get it? I’m not sure I’m explaining this very well…

        1. Oh, so you’re saying Kat’s Imagination Cam (like Danny’s from Hidden Agenda Part I – 22 Aug 2014).

          Hmmm, I’d say Rosemary would have to be an establishment villain with a veneer of respectability and authority. Like Lex Luthor being rich and running for president and whatnot, though I don’t think he fits for Rosemary (even if ignoring/allowing gender swaps). I don’t really know my comic villains well enough to fill in the blanks there, but I think Kat would view her as “corrupt authority”.

  6. Hmmm I find myself split on this one lol. Sorry I have been away for awhile, but my computer suffered a cascading failure of hardware and software, also got hit with some nasty virus that was the cause of the aforementioned hardware and software failure.

    Anyways, I am split on what to say here because one the one hand I do for the most part read fanfiction on the basis of pairings. If a fic doesnt have a pairing I like then I dont read it. But at the same time I dont read the fanfics only for the romance and smut, those are just part of the ‘dish’ as it were.

    To me, a fanfic is like a meal. The series is the dish itself (for arguments sake, lets say Shotgun Shuffle is pizza). Now the parings are the KIND of pizza, hand tossed, deep dish, New York style, etc. I happen to prefer hand tossed myself (Ellie/Quin for the win! lol). Now, does that mean I like ALL hand tossed pizza? NO, because the ingredients play an important factor in how good the fanfic (or any story for that matter) is.

    The ingredients are the genre. To me, romance is like the tomato sauce. It should be there and there should be plenty of it, but it shouldnt be on the surface, its a motivating force and a strong influence on the quality of the pizza, but you only know its there when you bite into it. Humor is like the peparoni, it adds a zest to it, a strong flavor that isnt over powering but still enjoyable. The sex scenes are like peppers, a little spice that adds an extra kick, too much and its too hot and no good (unless you are into that lol).

    The same is true with angst, drama, action, ect. A GOOD story needs a balance, a mix of ingredients to create an enjoyable meal. Too much of any one ingredient takes away from it, and like any dish there are some people who dont like and cant stand certian things at all. To me, angst is like anchovies, I wont touch pizza with anchovies lol

      1. Wait, what day is it? The last thing I remember was the though of Ellie, Quinn, tomato sauce. .. The next thing I know there’s Italian sausage and a saxophone. O_o

  7. …That’s…that’s really freaking creepy, Kat. I mean, I see no problem with writing naughty fanfic with unrelated characters with your close friends (*points to self* whoop whoop), but writing smut of blatant self-insert characters with an underaged girl you barely know sets off some alarms.

        1. Oh really? Let me give it a try. Ahem…
          You dang youngsters these days with your hipping hopping music and your japanimay cartoons!

        2. Good call reminding about the pants. I don’t think I’ve remembered to end a comment with “And pull your pants up, sonny!” yet.

  8. … just wow. I’m hoping the final comic in this arc ends with a cutaway of Rosemary entering chili con Kat in the much-teased Hobo Chili Cook-off.

        1. I think whoever enters chili con Alex will place past her by virtue of Alex’s better hobo credentials.

        2. True. I’m not sure if that’d be a negative for being less organic hobo or a positive for potentially having had his lice and other various bodily vermin killed in advance.

        3. Poison-laced chili con Alex could be marketed on the fact that if you eat it you won’t get omega pestilence.

    1. On Monday Rusche said the Pumpkin storyline will eventually be folded into the main story via archive update.

      It’s fifty cents a week. You could … downsize your coffee once a month to offset that whopping two dollar charge. It’s obviously your call. As a once-artist who made money selling my work, the sustainability of putting it up for free on the internet isn’t infinite. If your issue is the idea that you’ll automatically be billed, you can cancel your support and the charge at any time. I don’t like autobilling either, but I still have an ezpass that sucks money from my credit card whenever it needs to.

      In the archives Rusche has discussed the costs associated with the comic as well as the massive amount of time he sinks into the work you will still enjoy for free.

      Personally I think he’s worth supporting and will be enjoying the Pumpkin storyline in addition to the Ellie storyline.

      1. Depending on the implementation other options might become available. Rusche seems to want to enable people to read his work, not lock it behind a gate of any sort. This move seems a combo of trying to support himself enough to have more time to spend on the comic and wanting to provide something in return for people who’re supporting him financially. I suspect he’d be open to any form of technically feasible alternate arrangements that don’t seem like they’re shorting Patreon supporters.

        We’ll have to wait until Monday to be sure about such things, though.

      2. True, but it’s one more website that has my personal info. I don’t mind supporting it at all. I bought one of the Axe Cop graphic novels, for example.

        I don’t mind buying it at the end for a lump sum. Don’t get me wrong: the Patreon is a fantastic idea. It’s just not for me.

        1. And that’s OK. I figured that’s where you were coming from. Well, actually, I thought you didn’t like the idea of automatic billing.

          Anyone know if there is a way to donate through Amazon or something?

          (Hopefully I didn’t come across like a tool in my previous post.)

        2. It’s cool. I rather people tell me things straight and what you said is the reality. I’m used to feedback since I know it’s how you become a kick ass at something. Avoiding the feedback makes it much harder to kick ass

          It’s actually both I don’t like. If I get strained for money, it means I have to hunt down so many places to turn off auto billing. Also, it means someone out there has my CC or Paypal info.

          It’s easier for me to go “Here’s $20” than to have the $0.50 payment every week

        3. I think at the moment the ways to contribute to Rusche are Patreon, buying something from the shop, or donate with PayPal (Donate link at bottom and bar at top has that option). I’d imagine that if he goes the route of allowing pre-purchasing subscription access to the plot B comics as they come out, it’d be a purchase through PayPal. If he goes a batch route for e-books of some form of them, then I’d imagine he’d probably start a new service/option like GumRoad, but that’s unfounded speculation based upon my own observations and no knowledge of how he’s planning on doing things.

  9. I’m getting a good idea the direction Friday’s cliffhanger is going to take now. I thought I might end up liking Kat, but she just seems more and more hateable with every page. I could bear the unyielding, extreme views and preachy lectures, but this predatory behavior is both illegal and entirely hypocritical of her. Good think Rosemary has Pumpkin’s back, even if she probably doesn’t know it yet.

    Anyway the more I read, the less I wonder about Pumpkin being gay and the more I wonder if she’s asexual. There’s more evidence for Ellie being attracted to women than there is for Pumpkin being attracted to anybody, after all. Sure, it’s probably just for the sake of being ambiguous until the reveal, but maybe there’s no evidence because she simply isn’t attracted to anybody, at least not sexually. Of course I’m probably wrong, but it’s just how I’ve been reading her character lately.

    1. Before the plot B arc was announced, it seemed like Rusche had intended Pumpkin’s sexuality to be a red herring that was never actually solidified. He mentioned that the entire Pumpkin at the con story is actually part of the plot B arc. That being the case, everything before this point would’ve been deliberately ambiguous, which is harder to do if showing attraction for either gender. Asexuality has always been a possibility, or that she does have an interest but is deliberately ignoring it at this point in her life in favor of other pursuits.

      As for Ellie, the only evidence I see one way or the other with her is her rections to Blind Guy (definitely social need and wanting someone from a responsibility/trust/support stance, and could go romantic, but also within bounds of feeling comfortable flirting with the guy who isn’t drooling over her and needing reminders she’s not interested, similar to Tommy) and Quinn in the purple dress (which was right after Ginger needled her about thinking she was gay after being asked an opinion on Pumpkin, so well within bounds of oversensitivity to something that would normally be overlooked).

      So I’d put Ellie as having a touch more of a hint than Pumpkin. Granted, that may be colored by my belief that she’s going to get in her first serious relationship with someone Tarra wants for herself and I’m assuming that’s likely David (who Ellie will meet at her next job after whatever this is with Danny).

      1. It’s always possible the plot wrap-up will solely focus on Kay’s behavior and Pumpkin’s mistakes, rather than answering the “Is she or isn’t she?”

        1. I’d assumed that, but Rusche’s author post for the previous comic states otherwise.

          Pertinent sentence copy/pasted: “The Patreon comic will continue with Pumpkin, answer the is-she-isn’t-she question, pair her with an unlikely candidate, and eventually move on to some other elements of their universe.”

          I’m not sure what he’d mean by “the is-she-isn’t-she question” other than collapsing the uncertainty question on Pumpkin’s sexuality.

  10. I feel the same way. I think Pumpkin is going to be more careful with who she will be dating after all the stuff she has seen her sisters went through.

    1. Well…Ginger & Juniper’s issues were both issues that wouldn’t have arisen for a lesbian. I think we have a reasonable belief that Ellie hasn’t done much, if any, dating. No real evidence yet of what things may have been or turned out as with the others, though.

      1. Poorly stated lumping Ginger & Juniper together. Statement should be just Juniper. With Ginger it’s unknown if a pregnancy was part of things or not. We also know Rosemary’s at least a somewhat devout Christian, but we don’t know if that includes a large degree of intolerance for homosexuality or not. So there isn’t any real evidence if Ginger’s issues would’ve changed if with a woman instead of a man.

        Just wanted to correct before I was justifiably yelled at.

  11. After going through all comments and re-reading the comic, I noticed a subtlety of wording I missed my first time through.

    Regarding the last panel, I’d originally misread Kat’s statement to be stating a correlation between good fanfic and romance/sex included and Pumpkin stating that was surprisingly true. I missed that Kat was actually asking Pumpkin about noticing a causal relationship between a fanfic having a strong romantic or sexual component and her desire to read it, and that is what Pumpkin apparently considered and stated that she was surprised to find was her own view also.

    Subtle difference in wording, but makes me consider Pumpkin to be making a larger admission here than I first noticed. While it’s fairly likely that Kat’s attempting to steer things in that direction purposefully, I’m wondering if that slight wording was a deliberate/planned tactic or something that just came out without thinking things through like some of her arguments.

    1. My money’s on deliberate tactic. There’s a clear pattern going on here. One of the signs of an abusive relationship is one partner trying to isolate the other from their friends and family. Besides that, Kat is aggressive, manipulative, dishonest, and filled to the brim with false entitlement.
      She’s also an idiot. I guess that’s not a sign of abuse so much as an explanation as to why she’d be dumb enough to move in on a 15 year old whose father is a chief of police.

        1. Agreed that Katrina’s throwing off red flags right and left and the attempt to isolate Pumpkin from her previous friends (and maybe even hoping to spur a conflict with her family) are certainly enormous.

          @Gravatarless – I guess my question is how much is instinct versus plot. Sometimes your instincts kick in and you “feel” that a certain direction will go where you want and follow it without thinking much about why. Instincts aren’t always all that moral, and generally not very forward-thinking either. This is where I’m getting conflicting signals. Her actions are definitely moving towards a purpose, and a negative purpose. However, to my mind, they still leave an ambiguity as to how much she’s operating based upon an active plan versus an unexamined instinct. I can see the deliberate as likely, but there’s also enough play that it could be a red herring.

        2. To be fair, my tendencies in keeping opinions open aren’t actually based on giving her the benefit of the doubt. It’s more that I consider the worst mistake possible to be misjudging an adversary. This example with Kat is a relatively clear one with the answer mattering in the best way to trip her up or counter her.

        1. Well obviously it’d be relevant there, but I asked if it’s relevant HERE.

          I only counted one literally, by the way.

  12. Hm. An alternate interpretation of Pumpkin’s answer to Kat’s question could be that Pumpkin enjoys making fun of literary train wrecks the same way she does with terrible movies.

    1. That’s possible, but I think that depends on the degree she’s listening to and how she’s interpreting “good” in Katrina’s last speech bubble. If she’s ignoring it or translating “good” = “enjoyable” then that’s a distinct possibility. If she is translating “good” = “high quality” then probably not.

      1. I interpreted the speech bubble placements to mean Pumpkin agreed prior to Kat saying the bit about “good fanfics”. Pumpkin wouldn’t have heard that part yet.

        1. Hmm, quite possible. I was reading the separation between two bubbles as a pause but not one that Pumpkin spoke within, but you may be right.

  13. Another possibility that I don’t know if it’ll get explained until the Patreon part, is how the Ginger flashback is influencing Rosemary’s thinking and how it will modify her actions. If she walks in on Katrina kissing Pumpkin, will concern that Pumpkin will run away from her authority be enough that she doesn’t press charges (which would seem very strongly against Rosemary’s personality)? I don’t see Rusche showing the flashback with Rosemary being in lockstep with her previous actions. I was thinking it’d show her moderating but still acting within character. However he likes throwing in vulnerabilities and mistakes for his characters, so I’m wondering if the experience with Ginger will make her too timid now for fear of pushing her daughter farther in a bad direction.

    1. This assumes one thing: Rosemary doesn’t approve of David.

      While it might have irked her to no end the walk on her daughter in the primary stages of gettin’ buisy, she’s been shown to be quite loving towards her grandkids, indcating that while she may not have approved of the pace or the location for said friskiness, the results are, at minimum, tolerable.

      1. Rosemary has a plan in mind for each daughter. Anything that disrupts that is discouraged. Clearly, getting married and having kids was not in the plan. The plan has been mentioned, and each sister has gotten off the plan at some point, except for Pumpkin.

        Well, perhaps, there is another.

      2. I’m assuming for the purposes of this reply that you meant William as opposed to David.

        Taking Rosemary’s “just a boyfriend, just a tutor, just Santa” statement, she still sees some degree of negative for Ginger. Also, loving and accepting her grandkids doesn’t require a very high opinion of their son/daughter-in-law and happiness with the marriage. We don’t know how cordial Rosemary (or Herb) might be towards William when the grandkids aren’t around. We also don’t know how healthy William and Ginger’s marriage is. We’ve seen William at Thanksgiving dinner keeping an eye on his kids and Black Friday breakfast as a combo of watching his kids and casting a cautious eye on Ginger. We’ve seen Ginger is a fairly dominant personality and know she’s prone to anger. They could have a wonderful relationship or be barely holding things together with lots of emotional trauma all around.

        I am curious to learn more about both William and David and the formative roles they had in the eldest Buckingham sisters’ lives.

  14. Fanfic not working without sex/romance? SAYS YOU! >_<

    (Sorry. I write fic as a hobby and such an emphasis/blanket statement really gets my goat.)

  15. See, this whole argument? Why I don’t read fanfics that much. I really couldn’t care less about shipping, and when it goes overboard SERIOUSLY annoys me. Maybe it’s too many hours on TV Tropes, but there is just no surprise in most romance stories. You can usually tell within a minute if two people are gonna get together in a story, and forcing two people who DON’T want to be together sounds like some creepy shit when viewed from outside.

  16. Let’s see, the last time I read a fanfic that didn’t involve romance or sex? I mean, I do read those too, so I may need to think about this for a minute.

    Well, there was that Mass Effect fic where Mordin explained a poem honoring dead soldiers to Garrus. And that Borderlands fic where Mordecai saved Tina from a trap for spiderants, that one’s just adorable. Oh, and the countless saved documents consisting of stories I liked so much I wanted to read them without the internet. Or most Transformers G1 fics I read, even.

    Chris, this strip is probably the moment I started not liking this woman. It’s probably been building up since she showed up, but this right here? I keep hearing that teacher who said “no one reads genre fiction more than once” with this strip.

    Gah, part of me wants to just delete this comment, but I’d rather not risk ending up writing another one complaining about Kat later that’s even more ranty. Better I get it out now, you know?

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