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Only After Pudding

Thanks for all the praise on the last comic. The middle panel took two 15-hour-days to complete. I'm always a bit apprehensive with Tarragon-related comics since I typically get a bit of push back. There are a few readers who don't get her over-the-top nature as a character, and how any situation she's in immediately gravitates towards that. She's basically a vortex. I'll eventually touch on what happens to Damien and Tarragon, but it won't be for a while. Shotgun Shuffle plays the long game. The reason I put so much effort into that comic is because it's seeding part of the ending, and I needed that reveal to be overly arty. It makes very little sense now, but it will eventually. :)

92 thoughts on “Only After Pudding

    1. The minimum 12 words are noted on this post; credit for being “first” will be awarded.
      However, due to needless repetition of the comment on a follow-up post, the Secondary Sub-committee of Redundancy has deducted 10 points and awarded them to Ravenclaw (because they don’t get enough press one way or another).

    1. First and second, by the looks of things. Of course, that is pending adjudication by the judges.

  1. Unrelated to today’s comic, but it finally dawned on me why the comic is called “Shotgun Shuffle”

      1. Rusche wanted a domain name he could get and didn’t want to have to add “comic” to the end of it or something like that. He likes 70’s music. It’s the name of a KC & the Sunshine Band song. This is similar to the reason for Ellie’s AIM screen name in the early comics, it was chosen because it was available for Rusche to get (where presumably TheFifthSister was already taken).

        Additionally lined up youngest to oldest the sisters’ birthmarks spell out gunshot, which is shotgun shuffled (I assume that came after grabbing the domain name, but I haven’t seen him say that.).

        1. If he is, he won’t tell us until the biography comes out. That way, he knows that he’s going to sell at least 2,000 or so books. But this is just based on the current numbers that I pulled out of my head.

        2. In regards to the birthmarks Rusche has said that they were originally supposed to spell shotgun, but he committed to Ellie being the ‘N’ before deciding if she was the youngest or the oldest. Since the story called for Pumpkin to be younger than her and since Rusche didn’t want all of her sisters to still be in grade school he changed the word to gunshot.

      1. Possibly the only drawback to the DBZ themed restaurant: your entire meal (or several meals) could be filled with nothing but attack charge sounds. Well, and the narrator questioning if he’s really going to pull it off. Tune in next time!

        1. DBZ-themed restaurant: 7 meatballs for your spaghetti, but you’ve gotta undertake a ridiculously long quest before they can complete your order…

          along the way, you’ll encounter/ defeat/ be killed by/ be resurrected by/ be joined by a random group of tagalongs, some on even more ridiculous quests than you are, and by the time your meal is finally ready, you’ll have completely forgotten, and will have already eaten…

  2. I see her shirt is striped, dark and light. Her hair, is brunette with what look like hilights in it. And she’s eating chocolate/vanilla pudding….. hrmmm a theme maybe?

    1. Maybe it’s so her snack blends in with its surroundings to confuse predators. I’d be unsurprised to learn she’s the youngest of several siblings.

  3. Hmmmm, I wonder the consequences of Blind Guy approaching the apartment while Rebecca’s working. How close does he have to get to perceive her suit being used and/or interrupt it? Would he detect what they’re looking for and claim it first?

    After all, it’s extremely strongly hinted/suggested that he’s Tarra’s David, “the cleaner of Tarra’s messes,” so he likely has some resources beyond the norm. What he might potentially do to much up their plans is difficult to predict.

    1. I have to assume he walks past the building periodically (‘cuz he’s kind of stalky like that) and could have sensed something was off from the sidewalk. Otherwise I’m not sure what their plan was for hiring Ellie to go on a date with him other than potentially jeopardizing their plan in the manner it’s being jeopardized here.

      On an unrelated Tarra/David note I wonder if David wasn’t always blind but instead lost his sight because of something Tarra did.

      1. I also have been guessing that he wears dark glasses due to something related to was he did with Tarra. When it was hinted he was Tarra’s David, I also started wondering if he’s actually blind or using it as an excuse to hide something else regarding his eyes.

        Considering the difference between Tarra’s current birthmarks with her in high school (ref pic on the wall in comic You’ve chosen a dangerous path, currently dated November 17, 2014 or her in comic 20/20 Part III, currently dated December 3, 2014), he might just be hiding the way his eyes look for a completely bizarre reason.

        1. I’m pretty sure the negative side effects of Tarraforming are caused by long term exposure.

          @That one guy: I suppose he could be faking, but him not noticing Ellie during Black Friday leads me to think he isn’t. Also, Rusche has said that Tarra had anger issues when she was younger and I think her accidentally crippling her mentor might have lead to her becoming more in control of her emotions.

          Although if he is faking and he let her think she crippled him… The fallout from that revelation might be very entertaining to read but it would also make David into a huge *expletive deleted*.

        2. Cancerous cell growth is generally unchecked until it’s large enough to feel an abnormality. However, what if another side effect of Tarraforming is affecting the birthmarks?

        3. With them causing cancer along with their appearance, I assume the damage is radiation. As I understand it increased exposure just increases the odds of bad luck with radiation scrambling cell DNA such that it doesn’t reproduces in a munged way rather than heals or self-destructs (hence the reason why a singular ‘cure for cancer’ seems odd to me). So I think on exposure and really bad luck could be enough.

          He knew Ellie worked at Kohl’s, so even if he wasn’t faking on seeing her, he might’ve realized she was there one way or another and just refrained from acknowledging her out of the blue.

          Anger issue is certainly possible, but faking blindness might be something like hiding that his eyes give off light (which Tarra might’ve been party to causing) rather than trying to trick Tarra. My expectation if he is faking is that Tarra knows the reason, not that he’s trying to trick her.

        4. Hmmm… I’d forgotten that Ellie mentions irradiation during that fight. I suppose I have to propose that that’s either hyperbole or referring to something other than Tarraforming. I can’t imagine Ellie being aware that it emits radiation without Tarra also being aware and her future self needing to warn her suggests she isn’t.

          I think it’s likely that Tarraforming causes cancer for reasons other than radiation, like smoking and eating processed meat do. We don’t actually know how Tarraforming works. Maybe it’s a form of ki manipulation and Tarra’s primitive technique directs the body’s energies in a manner that causes damage on cellular level but X’s refined technique doesn’t. Kind of like the difference between watering a field with a fire hose vs an irrigation canal.

          On the subject of David seeing Ellie… It was mentioned in a comment to ‘Window Shopping’ (dated 1/8/14) that the reason he was out on Black Friday in the first place was because he overheard Pumpkin talking about it during class. Clearly he was hoping to ‘accidentally’ run into Ellie. That being the case the idea that he would notice her but not say anything is baffling. Granted it’s not beyond the realm of possibility given his interactions with her thus far, but still.

          Also, more than anything else, given how well known his is a Blind Guy the idea that he might not actually be blind feels wrong somehow.

          @mR. Blue: In regards to the birthmark issue, my personal preference is that they just grew naturally as she got older.

        5. The other sisters seemed to consider it the course of wisdom to get a certain distance away. I think the thing with Tarra is more that she thought her technique also made her immune to it. Technically visible light is a form of radiation, it’s just one that we tend to assume is fine as long as it’s not too strong. I suspect that was Tarra’s feeling about the radiation from Tarraforming. It’s certainly possible that Tarra is properly protected from any radiation and it interrupts something biologically too, though.

          Considering that he apparently doesn’t knock on Ellie’s door to say hello when he periodically checks up on her, I think it’s established that Blind Guy isn’t intending to make her aware of all the times he’s near/observing her. Considering that his discussion with Ian was a movie reference, it’s possible that wasn’t intended as Rusche’s joke but he was trying to cover and make his presence seem more like a coincidence (if Pumpkin was discussing the gift hit list, he might’ve had a few ideas to pose at different stores that seemed likely).

        6. I think it would be considered wise to distance oneself from the general collateral damage of a Tarra fight.

          I’ll admit your suggestion is possible, but it strikes me as overly complicated. Besides if the technique produces radiation how would one improve it so that it doesn’t anymore. I feel like it would be like trying to engineer a nuclear reactor so that it doesn’t generate radiation.

          Blind Guy doesn’t knock on Ellie’s door because she doesn’t know that he knows where she lives and if she knew he knew she’d be super freaked out. Since she no longer works at O’Jack’s he no longer has a convenient excuse to interact with her. The entire point of him going out on Black Friday was to hope he’d run into her and thus have an excuse to interact with her. That being the case I don’t see why he would try interacting if he’d noticed her and if he isn’t actually blind I don’t see how he didn’t notice her in ‘A Hot Girl’s 180’.

        7. Different frequencies of EM interact with the body in different ways. Additionally the change in technique could be a change in shielding. Another possibility is it might be a more in the beam steering direction for the EM to avoid backscatter.

          If we are assuming some kind of science behind Tarraforming, then either Tarra already took the equivalent of a super soldier formula/McGuffin juice that she thinks protects her or shielding herself must be part of what she’s doing. Now if we’re assuming full-on magic, then all bets are off as we don’t know how the magic system works (though shielding self is sometimes done in fantasy magic series, such as in the Belgariad for moving a large rock having to push back to avoid moving or Recluse series when talking about how throwing chaos fireball involves shields moving it).

          I won’t claim that isn’t overly complicated, but I think with Tarra being as over the top as she is, overcomplication is a possibility.

          If Blind Guy saw the look on Ellie’s face, that would’ve told him she didn’t want to talk to him. Also he wouldn’t want to blow the secret if he wasn’t blind. So I wouldn’t see him not initiating conversation that odd, if he could see the look on her face. Also if he remembered Tarra talking about the tradition, he’d know Ellie’s on a schedule and would probably duck out on him pretty quickly. We don’t know how much he’s stalking her, though seeing him checking up on her during one of her dates suggests a fairly strongly creepy amount. I’m not saying I think he can see (or has some kind of super science/paranormal sense allowing similar from experiments with Tarra), but I don’t think that possibility has been precluded yet.

        8. It occurs to me that our ability to theorize about the nature of Tarraforming is greatly hindered by the fact that we don’t know what it does. Other than the light effects we haven’t seen it being used in the comic.

          I suppose I can’t help but look for an Occam’s Razor solution. Though I suppose you have a point and when dealing with Tarra Arkham’s Razor might be the more useful tool.

          In regards to Blind Guy: this discussion has led my to closely analysis his behavior and come to find it much more questionable than I previously had. That being said I will come to his defense and say that him being at one of Ellie’s dates was probably a coincidence.

          I’ll admit Blind Guy being either not blind or Daredevil isn’t impossible, but I still think it’s highly unlikely.

        9. Terraforming is definitely too mysterious to know much about, but we never let that stop us from speculating here. If nothing else it might lead to Rusche throwing in a mention to clarify something later if he wants to make certain one avenue is chosen/precluded.

          I would’ve thought Blind Guy being not blind or having superhuman powers was unlikely before I admitted he was likely Tarra’s David who is likely her tutor and someone capable of “cleaning up” after her. To me, that’s practically screaming something more than expected going on. It might not be the ability to see or superhuman powers, but it’s gotta be something.

        10. I’m all for speculation, but I prefer to have ‘something’ to base it on. We’ve seen so little of Tarraforming that one could suggest it does any number of things and there’d be no evidence to refute the claim with. Plus I feel like we’ve examined this conceptual rubix cube pretty thoroughly and have kind of started debating in circles.

          I agree 100% that there’s something going on with David. Speculation on what that could be would likely fill an entire thread on its own.

        11. I concur that we have a decidedly solid amount of Terraforming speculation. I wasn’t intending to say we needed more, just that I thought it was good to put in.

        12. I’m of the thought that he tracked Ellie down from listening to Pumpkin and Ashliii talking amongst themselves. However, If he has any other training situations for Ashliii outside of the school, this may also be another possible avenue for The Blind Guy (Mr. David Stevens) to get his information.

  4. Wilf’s need for glasses makes me think his eyes have hypnotic powers that he can’t turn off.

    Speaking of the long game I feel the need to speculate on Wilf and Merrick’s presence in Orlando during the con. I wonder if Tired Guy might have orchestrated the entire Danny situation just to get the girls out of their apartment.

    1. While it’s not impossible that Tired Guy might’ve had something to do with Danny (either all along or just later on), I don’t know that I’d take Wilf’s presence at the con and Merrick selling montage somewhere convenient as evidence necessarily. It wouldn’t be surprising if Tired Guy has several irons in the fire, so there could be other reasons for the recon. Additionally montage dealing may be Merrick’s other job (he did try to interest Ellie).

      1. And no reason to say that Wilf’s side job would be selling fake imports in order to hide his subliminal impressions for the impressionable individuals. I.e., people who would be some of the website’s core demographic.

        1. I kind of like the idea that Wilf and Merrick hang out in their free time and travel the con circuit selling foreign knock-offs and montage.

        2. And now is time for everyone’s favorite mental bad boys, Wilf and Merrick, staring in “Give my <3 2 Montage". Give my <3 2 Montage is brought to you by the people who failed at "College Roommate Hotties." Annnnnnd here's Wilf!!!

      1. That linked comic was my primary inspiration for the idea. If I wanted to justify it I suppose I’d suggest that it’s the type of ability that’s more effective the less the target’s brain has to reconcile. So it’s super effective when getting an unemployed girl to accept a job she’s iffy about, but almost no one can be convinced to buy a foreign knock off unless they’re already inclined towards that kind of entertainment.

        1. Upon consideration I’ve decided I don’t like this idea since it removes Ellie’s responsibility for agreeing to work for the dating site and I feel like dealing with that will be an important part of her character development.

          Also, I’ve come to realize how ironic it is for Quinn to shame Ellie about being an emotional prostitute when she was suggesting Ellie ‘work the street corner’ when they first became roommates.

        2. Hypnotism is effectively a method of turning off some safeties and giving the brain direct orders. However, such things are still referred to as, “the power of suggestion” for a reason. When carrying out a hypnotic command, a person’s brain still functions otherwise as normal. A suggestion that doesn’t seem strange (such as having indigestion, fatigued eyes, feeling energized, or having sore muscle) will pretty much fit seamlessly into that. A suggestion that goes far outside someone’s expectations (everyone magically seeing you in a different way, irresistibly wanting someone previously repulsive, intuitively understanding a foreign language, or being able to fly) will constantly have to fight against experience and will more easily break.

          I can say from experience, if you hypnotize someone and tell them that they’ll cluck like a chicken when you say word X, it’ll work once. If you try to tell them that it’ll work once, it’ll do so and they’ll be impressed. If you try to say it’ll always work, it’ll work once and it depends on the person how many times after it’ll work, but eventually it’ll be done. If you hypnotize someone and give them a method to fall asleep as an insomniac or while they have a headache and they’re grateful/appreciative, it could potentially work for the rest of their natural life (all I can say from experience there is it survived a few years of nursing school, which I presume would’ve covered the placebo effect which works for similar reasons).

          So, even if Wilf literally mesmerized Ellie to convince her to take the job, everything after she said yes (including watching Merrick & Nena with her profile) would’ve slowly eroded that work and starts to be on her for continuing doing.

          The above is considering our normal world hypnosis (and mesmerism) and cannot say for certain how that does or doesn’t change with the Shuffleverse.

        3. As a side note, above statement about personal knowledge is hypnosis. I have absolutely zero knowledge if mesmerism (hypnotizing someone quickly, without them realizing it’s happening, and not due to drugging them) is real/possible or not.

        4. I feel like we’re in extremely muddy water as to where we draw the line between the power of suggestion and mind control. I’m going to lean towards mind control in this discussion just because that’s how it tends to be depicted in fiction.

          The way I see it, assuming Ellie ultimately gets fed up and quits the dating site, if there wasn’t hypnotism it’s a case of her making a morally questionable decision in a moment of weakness then having the guilt and regret slowly eat away at her until she realizes she’s in a bad situation. Whereas if there was hypnotism it could be argued that it’s a case of her preexisting morality reasserting itself until she’s able to overcome the outside influence.

          Regardless of whether or not there’s hypnotism involved I have to wonder how much the tendency people have for when they make a bad decision they’ll mentally double down rather than admit they made a mistake is in play here.

        5. Ellie wanted an excuse to agree, Wilf gave her a nudge, not a push. So I think it’s in the realm of suggestion rather than control. She had a choice and the suggestion was enough to help her pretend she wasn’t making a bad one. I don’t know that it’s quite in the realm of hypnotism, but he could have a slight boost compared to a normal person in terms of persuading. He didn’t display any prowess to push someone who is resisting, so that’s still completely unknown (and maybe interesting in the upcoming comics if Nena successfully begs off).

          It seemed to me that she wanted to make the decision before Wilf and he just tipped her over the edge. So I think this counts as her making a morally questionable decision. Her lasting so long is the type of “decision inertia” you’re talking about. Well, a mild type that naturally breaks down, not the severe type that’s enormously self-reinforcing with all inputs.

      1. Considering her comments to Quinn regarding Alex’s gravity-free imagination, I’ve been assuming Ellie prefers more support.

        1. Elllie, sure, but if she takes on an alter ego? Normal boob-physics don’t apply to women wearin Female Super Costumes, isn’t that so? Even costumes that are one molecule thick and lack any structural features (suspension, cantilevers, etc) at all. I think that I read that theyre made of boobolium.

        2. I don’t know, if you’re going to go super powered route, I’d say better to assume it’s a symbiote suit that escaped from Tarra’s lab (or Tarra herself).

        3. Great. Another new comic with 6 years of archives to read. THANKS GUYS! >:O

          On a related note: Pumpkin would make an awesome Gyrognome.

        4. You’re welcome. ;-)
          Hm. Which of The Sisters for Good Girl/Bad Good Girl? Maybe one of them for GG, one for BGG….

        5. Symbiote suit, like Empowered’s costume? Yowza: gotta be one of The Sisters who could cosplay the heck out of Emp!

      1. Recall that KK isn’t on the cast page yet because she’s going to be put on during the third major story arc. Also Barrel didn’t show up on the cast page until after O’Jacks was shut down. So it’s possible that he shows up later (or that he doesn’t make the cut).

      2. Damien? The only thing that I can think of is the reference from “Wayne’s World.” Unless that is the DFX guy’s name… it is, isn’t it?

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