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The Fellowship of Something Stupid

Friday's post will be up about noonish. My sleep got all jacked this week with antibiotics and pain meds. Had to get out of the routine of not sleeping ever. See you then. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Tarra TvTropes Thank you to whichever readers added an entire page to Shotgun Shuffle on TVtropes. I'm a huge fan of that site. It made my week. You can find this link by clicking on Tarra. I'd assist in fleshing out more tropes myself, but those would probably be better coming from someone less biased since many are of a critical and analytical nature. Ellie HangoutsI also redirected Ellie's to a Google Hangout I made. This in place of the old GoogleMaps plotter I had. It's probably best at this point to set up a time I can be online if anyone wants to talk in some form of real-time. So tonight (Wed) at 10eastern/ 9 central I'll be on. Any other time zone, do the math yourself. We'll see how it goes. Maybe I can throw misc images up of random junk my computer has on it. And now the bad with the good. I found the TVtropes link via Google, but I also found a comment about my site  in a forum on a different webcomic. It read as follows: Writing Crit

"I'm giving "Shotgun Shuffle" a try, but man the art is a lot better than the writing.

  I even got a "but man." Ouch. So I reached out to this person on the same forum and thanked them for trying the comic. I also gave my email address and asked what specifically needed improvement in their eyes. They may be reading this now. Who knows. But I certainly hope they email me. It's the only way I'm going to get better. I don't need reassurance from any of you thinking that comment needs to be compensated for. I've gotten other criticisms in the past, and it's always with the writing. ALWAYS with the writing. And that's fine. I'm not the best writer. I'm one guy. And hell, half the time I bounce ideas off friends, they tell me they don't want spoilers. So I'm left with little feedback. lol. I had a friend who said once "If you can't say anything BAD about me, don't even talk to me." A very cynical person, but his point was if you can't say the bad with the good, you're not helping him better his craft. And that's incredibly true. The TVtropes link also has a secondary page (which many do) called YMMV. That stands for "Your Mileage May Vary," meaning it's a page for observances that may not reflect what every viewer sees or feels about the content. One of those tropes was "Growing the Beard" (I suggest you look some of these tropes up for your favorite shows, it's a lot of fun.) It stated Shotgun Shuffle ran a meddling-about/generic tone until Blind Guy came in and convinced Ellie to stick with her job. Then the comic showed merit/picked up. That is the difference in readership I have. And have noticed since that point in the comic. Some of my readers like the manic, out-there, parody silliness I do. Some can't stand that and like the more down to earth stories. I'll have both. I'll always do both. If we're in a certain storyline you don't like, don't give up on me. I got plenty of "whatever I'm not doing" coming up after it. Judging by the forum post, our new reader may be taking issue with the story we're in. This story is merely a field trip. It's a rarity (and possibly the only time) these girls will be written together in one story. So I'm hitting Cinnamon being evil, Anise being weird, and so on. And it's actually almost over. This is three months worth of strips so far. All of it to convey what's coming up in another 3 comics or so, which is back down to earth. It's not necessarily the comic going into outer space, but whatever character the story is revolving around. As such: Relation to Earth     So with enough of these weightless elements causing a huge $#!t storm at a mall, eventually they'll come back down to earth. Ginger is there to do that. The Buckingham girls will make reappearances, but they're not setting any future tone for the comic. The comic will also ALWAYS contain surreal elements adjoining whatever underlying message it has, though. Just not typically as many as we're seeing now. It may not have anything to do with that. It may be too back-and-forthy. Quinn talking to Ellie around the lake may have been too flash-backy... In summary, whether you're a veteran reader of mine, or this is your first visit, always know my door is open. I will never bite your head off for even the simplest of grievances. Feel free to email me anytime. I want this comic to be for everyone. But every reader has different interests. Different types of stories, characters and pacing they prefer. So I know I can't possibly make everyone happy. But I can try to get to most of you. I get plenty of praise, honestly. I have the best fans I could ask for. But if your interest EVER wains, you need to talk to me.  This is my first comic-venture.  I won't get any better in a vacuum. -Chris :)  

174 thoughts on “The Fellowship of Something Stupid

        1. Don’t sweat it, you know I’m not gonna judge you. Tease and mock probably, but not judge. We all know Ginger will do that enough for all of us.

        2. Ladies, did you know that the other day Ellie asked me if I had been eating Campbell’s soup? I said no, and she said something about “Mmm, Mmm, good” under her breath awkwardly.

        3. Don’t forget that she smothered your face in her boobs and sent you an artist’s depiction of her naked over your objections.

        4. The new one? I don’t remember there being an old one. But yea, call her Aunt Quinn, I bet her and Ellie will think it’s funny. Also the suspense is killing me, did I get a hoverboard for Christmas two months ago or not?

        5. You know, her new friend. When was the last time we meta friend of one of our aunts? When that guy Aunt Cinn brought to Christmas tried to play my 3dgs, or when Aunt Anise brought the yeti man to your birthday?

  1. Awfully quick on the draw there, Ellie. Defensive much?

    And ‘Fellowship of Something Stupid’ huh? I swear I’ve been in that group once or twice…

      1. Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.

        But if you’ve NEVER been part of a fellowship of something stupid you probably have led a boring life and have no good stories to use as ice breakers or party entertainment.

  2. On the plus side that has to be the shortest time i have ever spent in TVtropes simply because i didn’t look up all the different definitions of the tropes.

        1. One of the reasons why the page isn’t very big yet. I try to contribute, but I keep getting distracted. . .

        1. Love it. More quotable than a dozen other movies. I still hear “THAT’S A LOT OF NUTS!” most any time I hear a large number of something.

        1. I thought that Plan Nine from Outer Space was the worst movie ever. I mean, Refer Madness had a slight black humor to it. And like it was said above, either you love it or hate it, but Kung Pow is here to stay.

        1. Please excuse the Backwards Burglar. He is an idiot. We have trained him wrong, on purpose, as a joke.

  3. given what we’ve seen so far as to the girls specific levels in the stratosphere, i am terrified that pumpkin somehow ranks above cinnamon and anise

    1. Ellie & Blind Guy are both higher than Anise too, if I’m not misjudging due to curvature anyway. Have to wonder what puts them that far out there. I would’ve guessed Blind Guy closer to Juniper’s altitude or maybe a bit above her but still below Cinn.

      Also looks like Tired Guy is on par with Cinn, which is frightening to live near him when that includes Ratchantula release (even if intentional breeding is still up in the air).

      I’m wondering what hijinks KK will get up to in order to be less down-to-earth than Quinn. Unless Quinn’s narcissistic tendencies don’t count as being not down to earth.

      Rusche, are we misinterpreting that, or maybe different scales on the Buckingham side versus the non-Buckingham side and some places that it’s maybe compressed/expanded for readability/space concerns as opposed to precision?

      1. I’d like to remind you that KK has not only dealt with the ratches (or whatever the four legged version was called), but also had artillery pulled in on her store.

        In contrast, Quinn has the sisters Buckingham (yet has had minimal exposure to the hijinks they’ve created this tme) and had Alex.

        So, to me, KK not being fully on erf makes sense.

      2. That earth diagram involves surreal elements revolving around the characters. Anise being weird isn’t as surreal as Ellie having a floating phone or a perfectly spherical cat. KK isn’t herself in outer space, but things around her are.

        I will have a few characters some might find further out than Tarra, but not as random as her. Wandering Girl is one, but I have to follow a sequence of story events to get to her. Her surreal elements are extremely subtle, as opposed to Tarra’s very obvious ones.

        1. Or a treasure chest, somebody wants to get and open up.


          (Don’t know if it’s true, but it had to be done! ;) )

        2. I’m glad someone else asked. I was getting sick of it.

          Half tempted to run him out of the League of Revengencers, I tell you what.

        3. You’ll eat those words when the Master has finished my training. Right now, I’m up to mumbling kicks and spinning fists.

  4. Sometimes opinions on writing depends on life experience/viewpoint. For example, I remember my mom mentioning offhand that she’d thought a certain author was horrible at writing women. I hadn’t noticed anything odd/different from books that apparently wrote women well but every other woman I asked who was familiar with him thought the same. I’m apparently just not aware or capable of noticing the difference.

    I wish you good luck in determining these things and your quest to add their elements to your writing, though based upon the examples of comics the commenter gave, I suspect it’s the “out there” elements and slapstick-type jokes that’s irritating to him/her.

    If you want something critical from me, the only thing I’ve got is that I can be a relatively impatient person and I’ve occasionally found myself impatient with the pacing because I want to know about what’s going on with a different part of the story. With dead tree books that cover multiple characters I’ll sometimes skip chapters for characters I don’t care about as much and flip through to the ones I do and then go back once my curiosity is satisfied. I consider that an aspect for myself and not something that I’d expect a third party to be able to know and stick with, so I don’t consider it a valid complaint. Also you do this in your spare time and I appreciate it, so if everything isn’t the way I’d wish if I can wave a magic wand, oh well (as a Linux sysadmin, there’s definitely a fair amount of, ‘Yeah, it’d be nice if it had that, but for being completely free I can’t complain’).

    As a note, that wasn’t a hit against Gump Wars specifically, primarily because there wasn’t anything big dangling with the story at that time that was bugging me. I was mildly impatient, but it wasn’t too bad. If you’d inserted a month of non-story comics immediately after say Ratchantulas, that would’ve irritated me.

    1. I will never hear the end of Gump Wars. lolol I got an email mentioning it this morning I still have to respond to.

      I do let things simmer. Like Quinn + Eagan or Ellie + Mr. Stevens. Tiredguy’s biding his time as well. What part of the story are you referring to specifically? That you find yourself wanting to get back to?

      1. I think that T.O.G. is shipping Mr. Lavender and Mr. Stevens so that the noise in the apartment will bother Tired Guy to the point where he’d take three hours to storm from his apartment to pound on the door. Only to be met at the door buy two people wearing Timex digital watches, borken; holding one helium balloon, one water. Wearing a black suit jacket, a pair of black suit pants, one hat each, black. A pair of sunglasses each and $56.14 between the two of them.

      2. There isn’t anything at the moment. You’d just asked for criticism as to things that were potentially irritating and my just woken up mind felt a need to comply. I just couldn’t think of anything other than a personal flaw of mine.

        I spend enough time at work focused in trying to nitpick and find flaws before they turn to something bigger, so I try to avoid doing that with my entertainment, and anything that jumps out as problematic I just don’t get very far with in the first place. I still remember and analyze way more than normal by habit.

        1. Actually, now that you mention it, I never watch shows while they’re on TV, I’ll buy the seasons on DVD/BR instead. Watching the first show frequently means watching the whole season, and sometimes going and buying the next even though it’s not on sale yet.

          When it comes to stories I find interesting, it’s basically as if my curiosity did a full brainwash to make me do what it wants.

        2. Well damn man, take away half the fun of tv. Either that, or seeing if you can race to the bathroom, wash your hands, run to the fridge and get back and put the noise cancelling headphones back on before the movie comes back on.

  5. Don’t stress it. Yours is the only one which offers a value for money roller coaster ride. Most of the other webcomics that I have come across tend to be bland and a little predictable, while your? yours just explode all over the place and are worth the wait and anticipation. In terms of writing, that was a sad little comment about your abundance of wit and humour and talent which you infuse in each of your comics.

    1. It’s one of my new favorites. I’ve read stuff from Weregeek to Dead Winter and well beyond, and coming back here three days a week is one of the day’s high points in webcomicking.

    2. DAWW. Thanks cj.
      I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t read any webcomics on the regular. I think it’s mostly because of the same things you said. Everyone dates each other, or talks about gaming, overly edgy, drinking beer/bar bullshit, constant-sexual-innuendo comics, or retread crappy narratives that feel forced (like main character meets random bigot who’s being a bigot out of nowhere for no reason.) That’s not all of them obviously. Many are great. The reason I don’t read the great ones is I have a horrible time investing myself in someone else’s story anymore. I’m either too afraid I’ll steal their ideas, of I’ll be self conscious that they’re so much better than me. hhahahah.

  6. Junipers place makes sense. Who wants to deal with that bullshit when you’re hungover. And I assume Pumpkin is secretly a Magical Girl, Sentai or something similar. Maybe Blind Guy is Daredevil?

    1. My guess is that Pumpkin is a cosplayer, so her connection to any one reality is more tenuous. She spends a lot of time in other realities, like most any artist or writer, so the connection to Erf is a much more gossamer thread. By comparison, Quinn is currently wrapped in boat chain that makes Jacob Marley’s look like a herringbone necklace.

      1. Wearing only a boatchain sounds like a Halloween costume on a budget for Quinn. Think she cleaned the algae off first, or left it to be authentic and point out it really was from a boat?

        1. That’s much less of a substitute for the dress people were voting on her buying.

          Also to the original commenter’s point, I’m hoping Toby (Blind Guy’s dog) has rocket engines and can fly him from place to place. Maybe I just want to see a dog with rocket engines having a grown man ride it.

  7. The poster reads nothing but main stream comics. You would think that if he or she is “always on the lookout for rare excellent webcomics” that there would be at least one non mainstream title in his or her list.

    *shrug* Probably has his or her radio tuned to Top 40 as well and still thinks themselves as cutting edge.

    1. Yeah, there was a bit of tonal dissonance in that list, wasn’t there? Guy comes in from a comic where tiny smutty robots shriek about butts but can’t take a comic where the nerds form a rogue’s gallery? Scuse me while I scoff.

    2. Yeah, I think the last time I listened to a Top 40 the song that was on had lyrics written by the lyrical-genious-singer herself which were “I live for the APPLAUSE-PLAUSE, live for the APPLAUSE-PLAUSE.”


      Yep, just gonna turn that radio off now.

      1. I always change those lyrics to “Applesauce” and sing along. It’s much funner, and the idea of living for applesauce is much more appealing to me.

        1. Mr. Blue is curious now, he thinks that Ellie would be the sister to perform “Applesauce.” What does Banena and others think, Mr. Blue thinks.

    3. You know, on the subject of the original poster who Chris quoted from, I would like to put forth the following thoughts because I know fandom can create intense emotion and I’ve seen (and even been part of) fans do stupid things that can potentially cause backlash for the thing they are fans of.

      Don’t track the guy down through the internet and harass him “in the name of Shotgun Shuffle.” I don’t think we have anyone here who would do that but just on the outside chance if there is, and if they are thinking of doing it, and if they read this, just don’t do it. People are entitled to their opinion, Chris is already reaching out to him to get honest critical feedback and that’s awesome. That’s where it should end. Giving him a hard time won’t do anything positive. Peace out *mic drop*

  8. This strip is so far the highlight of my day. It certainly beats being stuck in the ditch because a semi skating on ice forced me off the road. When I get out of my car and back to a computer I’ll probably be posting about the art/writing thing because I have some thoughts on it that are too complex for phone posting.

    1. TLO, not seeing a later post, so hoping you got home safe and just were tired at that point.

      Also the number of semis on the roads seems to have been increasing in the past year or two (at least around where I live) and I’ve been wishing more and more that we’d build our freight railway system back up. They already make dual traincar/semi trailers, so a little rail to central depots and a crane would get them ready to deliver to endpoints. Fewer long haul semis would mean fewer on the road at any given time and drivers would be able to spend more time at home.

      1. Today was not a good day but it could have been a worse one. After spending what felt like eternity sitting in the ditch (no, this ditch did not appear to be the ditch Juniper lives in) waiting for a tow I ended up taking my car in to make sure I didn’t screw up my undercarriage, tie rods, alignment etc. It’s fine but that ate up most of my day. But as I said, it could have been worse. Last year I totaled a car in an ice storm (walked away without a scratch that time also which was cool). I think I mentioned earlier this week that moving south is looking very appealing, it looks even more so after today. But I didn’t mean to worry anyone, sorry.

        1. If it were Juniper’s ditch, she probably would’ve been amenable to helping keep you warm. Main issue would be a few hours in a car with her and you’d probably be intoxicated due to breathing the alcohol fumes.

          Glad to hear you’re good and didn’t have too much bad luck. I’m lucky that way myself. I definitely get bad luck, but pretty frequently it’s about as good of circumstances for the bad luck event as possible (80+% of car breakdowns in high school/college happened in my parents’ driveway, for example).

        2. Dude, I would have to worry about being in Juniper’s ditch. I just uncovered information that Ellie is not the first Buckingham sister to be in his presence.

        3. Alex has pictures of Mr. Rainbow on his wall man. ON HIS WALL. THE HORRORS.



          Almost as bad as the Ratchantulas crawling up that lady’s shoulder.

        4. Wait a minute… way back in one of the comments Mr. Rainbow was dropping hints that she had dated Alex at one point. I thought she was just being catty with Mr. Not Mine but you’re right. Huh. Maybe his goal is to date them all? Kind of like PokeMon?

        5. Okay, that date them all freaked me out. Only because they would be tainted by him whose name we shall not speak of.

          *mutters* dirty hippie.

        6. Are you claiming Alex is capable of getting Juniper to keep her clothes on and was reduced to using his imagination again? Wow…that’s pretty impressive. I didn’t know it could be done.

  9. Just gonna say, I actively read over 50 webcomics, but this is one of the ones I check the night before update day for in case it’s already updated. Just sayin’.

    1. I know that feel. I don’t read 50 on a regular basis, perhaps 10-ish? Whatever. I actually wait as long as possible on the update day to read this, but that’s because it’s one of my favorites and I like to save the best for last.

    2. I’ve got 42 that I consider myself to pay attention to, though two thirds of those are either one update/week or sporadic/unreliable so I only check once/week. This is the only one I currently comment on, so, like Jamilee, I save it for last when I’m going the list too as it takes a lot longer going through comments than just reading a comic.

      I’ve gotten in the habit of reading while eating dinner and it’s part of my nightly winding down routine.

      1. At one point I was reading fifty-ish webcomics but it got to too much of a hassle to keep up with and I realized that many I was reading just out of habit and not because I enjoyed them anymore. A lot webcomics I give the benefit of the doubt to because some graduate drastically in art and/or writing quality (Penny Arcade or Questionable Content come to mind) while others start out strong then meander or stagnate. I made a choice a couple years ago to limit myself to around tenish that I realy enjoy and I’ll dabbe with a handful of others if something new catches my eye or if I go back to see if something I once liked got its quality back. So really no more than 15 at any given time. Shotgun Shuffle made the grade easily and remains there, here are a few reasons why:

        1. The evolution of art and writing is very apparent. I came in right at the point Ellie was starting at O’Jacks and the improvements from “Pilot” to that point were noticeable. By the same token Chris could have settled very easily into the comfortable niche of “odd couple room mates with fan service all the time” If he had I wouldn’t still be here.

        2. Things happen and they stick. Gag a day/status quo is god strips are done to death.

        3. Chris interacts with his fans, takes advice, values there’s opinions and wants them enjoy the experience insteAd of being yet another fevered internet ego.

        4. The fans are awesome here and the level of surreal meta fun can’t be found anywhere else on the web that I am aware of.

        5. Chris has a plan. You can see it with the foreshadowing of some aspects of the story and it pays off. His pacing is typically good (some of the time jumps have been jarring) and his framing and effort to do more than just depict talking heads is greatly apprecieted. I know he’s teased animation a few times, I for one hope it happens because unlike some animated webcomics Shotgun Shuffle I think would greatly benefit from his flair for the cinematic.

        So for those who cant deal with wall if text, I am picky about the webcomics I read but I keep reading this one because Chris cares about his quality and keeps improving, the fans are awesome and I always want to see what will happen next. Rock on.

        1. I blame all typos and other errors on the fact I typed that on my iPod and I am exhuasted.

        2. I don’t know about questionable content. I started that recently within the past three months, did a complete archieve crawl. I felt that the art seems to be sustained overall, so there isn’t much there that can attest to the capabilities of the author. The writing, stagnated after, okay, this is halfway funny. He’s complaining about the girl not knowing his name, he can’t remember her name, and I can’t remember most of their names. Off the top of my head, it seems that one of the more interesting things about that strip are the personal computer robots that hang around.

          I’m thinking of tossing QC out, because the quality control has gone south way before TLO did.

          Sorry, I just seem to be unable to quit making bad jokes.

        3. QC has upgraded in the art department drastically since it started. Storywise, I think it bogged itself down with too many plot threads and a story that hasn’t really done anything in a while. I will give Jeff credit, shortly after the point where QC jumped the shark he did cut drastically back on his reliance on Pintsize for non sequiter vulgar punchlines. But he hasn’t quite figured out what to do to fill the gap. Even Penny Arcade isn’t where it used to be quality wise which bugs me because it used to be one of the gold standards I compared all other web comics to but I still think it’s a great example of how creators can learn evolve and improve through doing. Go back and look at the first handful of strips and then jump forward even a few years in the archive, it’s a significant leap.

          As far as

        4. Shadow artist or not I’m not really digging the new style. I can appreciate the effort it takes to change things up but there is just something about it that feels “off” now. The top three things are “bendy limbs,” which I hate unless used for momentary extreme reaction sort of depiction. The way he now “shades” noses by making them look like every character is a raging alcoholic with red nose syndrome. And the slow graduation from not wanting to depict teeth as simple white slabs that has resulted in everyone looking like they are part beaver (buckteeth is what I’m sayin’). Any one of these I could probably be ok with but the presence of all three tips it into the cartoon version of the uncanny valley. Of course YMMV.

        5. The beaver teeth… yes, that is something I notice right off the bat now and it’s not pleasing to the eye. I’ve also noticed the lack of backgrounds and shading. Both of which have vanished completely unless it’s a straight-game-parody strip. But even those are cutting corners. There was a time there were backgrounds. Some elaborate, some not. Then it was colored bgs with some shading/texture maybe. Then it became different colors. Now it’s all the same color. There’s no placement anymore of where any character is. They’re just in a void. http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2014/02/03

          The characters’ proportions are becoming very chibi-ish as well. The bodies are squattier, the faces and heads more like bubbles. Tycho used to look like a badass with his design, now he’s a forgettable cameo in an episode of Ren and Stimpy. And as I’m writing this, I see they’re doing another comic with Scott Kurtz called “The Trenches.” http://trenchescomic.com/comic/ <---Speaking of Ren and Stimpy. Wth. Why are so many comics emulating this style now?? I hate the Mr. Potato Head noses! BLERGH The drunk-uncle nose reddenings are something better suited for Santa, but it seems like EVERYONE is getting into that with comics now. That is actually a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I can't stand everyone looking like they're congested/have the flu. But that's disappearing too with PA. Why? Honestly, I guess it's because it's another extra photoshop layer they don't wanna do anymore. Just like shading and backgrounds. PA hit it's stride so well at one point. Now it's "how quickly can we make it and go back to playing games" ...?? Fantastic guys. Fantastic minds. I just don't understand what's going on with the quality standards. I don't know their daily routines, but I'm sure they have numerous tasks at hand with conventions and charities. That's good. But content is key. When I first started reading Penny Arcade (always intermittently,) I knew it was two dudes. Knew they were hella popular. Got to their site and saw they only updated 3 times a week. Loved the comic. But I was baffled it wasn't more the 3 a week. This is wayyy back in the day. And I'm going to myself: "Three times a week? But there's two of them! Why isn't it 5 or more?" And when I found one of them did the majority of the work on the strip, I wondered what the hell the other guy must do. lol

        6. Read some of ‘The Trenches.’ Then clicked the “about the authors” page. You’ll see at the bottom, none of these 3 are even drawing it. http://trenchescomic.com/about

          There are three of them. Garnering the credit, but outsourcing the work to 2 other artists (who suspiciously competed in a webcomic contest Strip Search.) Was this the winning prize? To do their art for them? This brings the collaboration of this site to 5 people. The info line under the comic just reads Copyright the PA guys and Kurtz. This is probably what they’re doing with the main PA comic as well. Outsourcing art. Hell, I’d love to do that. But I get the ol’ leery-eye when webcomics start looking like minimalist revenue streams.

          Am I being over critical with this? I tend to do that with things. I also assume too much. (the leery eye works overtime…)

        7. I hadn’t even picked up on the fact that the backgrounds are vanishing for the non gaming strips. And I tried the Trenches when it first came out, but I couldn’t get into the largely unlikeable cast. I certainly didn’t realize it was the product of FIVE people. That would make it the webcomic equivalent of the band Slipknot, when you have that many members in something (Slipknot had something like 8 or 9) there is no excuse for being mediocre because your expectation raise in proportion to the number of people involved because otherwise… what are they doing there? Speaking of Kurtz though, I know he delegates at least the coloring chores for his comic to an intern or assistant who goes uncredited so this is familiar territory for him.

          And no, certainly not overly critical at all.

        8. “What are they doing there?” Exactly. That’s why I get the thought its franchising-out lackluster cookie cutter webcomics to roll in more smaller increments of income. It’s literally what Hanna-Barbara did in webcomic form. Quick to produce, cheaply made, minimalist production value.

        9. Maybe they got the idea from Drew Carey when he borrowed “Who’s line is it anyway” for the prize of winning the strip search. (intended)

        10. I’ve been reading QC for several years, and the art did get a lot better at first but I think he’s hit his stride now and it looks good enough to me currently that I could see myself being happy with it in Jeff’s place. As for storyline stagnating, I can see that, but I’m going to give him a pass for a while before I give up on it. He’s been full-time supported by his comic for years, he does five posts/week, and topping that all off he mentioned in a post a month or so ago that he and his wife were separating. With no real ability to take a good break, and probably having the situation leading to the separation be a drain for a while before, I find some degree of slump to be expected. I’ve enjoyed parts of it enough in the past to be willing to take the 90 seconds or so it takes for the page load and me to read it and his post comment and go on for a while before making a decision about giving up on it.

        11. okay, I can sort of understand the mental anguish of separation. But just right now, I have to wonder if he’s putting the right perspective in play. But what do I know, I’m just an old fashioned romantic single dude who used to love the original Ren and Stimpy, and Garfield when Jim Davis did most of it.

        12. I have to agree with you on all points, but #4 especially. I love the comments section. Somewhere along the line it turned into a forum and it’s beautiful.

          I really love the hints from Chris as well. Can’t wait for the presumed eighth Buckingham sibling to show up, by the way.

        13. Agreed about Rusche’s participation in the comments is very nice. Giving hints here and there, but not too far but not just teasing either. Responding to commenters with explanations, reasons, & viewpoints; clarifying things that were being misinterpreted; and even a nice public “Damnit that was supposed to be a surprise for a while longer” when someone guessed Blind Guy == Mr. Stevens. Makes for a nice, enjoyable environment.

        14. I got lucky with ducking the table on that one. But I just did an archive troll again, and Easter Eggs galore are abound all over the place.

          I think that Chris had done an excellent job in presentation of the story and characters. At first, I thought that the key chain that Ellie had with the mad face was Quinn, in representation for HER apartment.

          But, go back and look at it again, the one after Quinn’s head wakes up on Ellie’s body.

        15. Didn’t notice that even the first time. Nice touch, though I more wonder at the point he did that comic if he intended to eventually post Index Man or if he put it in as an inside joke to himself (and presumably any other readers of his personal acquaintance who were previously familiar with Index Man).

        16. Nah, I was going to post all my pre-Shuffle stuff there. Need to do more of those pages so I can post diff stuff. Any of you big-commentors going to attend a Google Hangout with me? I haven’t heard any days or times mentioned. It’s not on camera or anything. Just scrolling chat deal. (with pictures I post.)

        17. I will, I will. I mean, generally I choose not to use Google plus items because of the increase of private messages going to my mail box, according to Kim Kommando. But you man, you’ve got me to …

          No, I’m not going to say switch.


          ..change my mind about the situation. I look forward to the next session.

        18. Thanks as always TLO and Jamilee.

          Point 5) I agree. It’s something I’m planning to work on. Luckily, most of the future stories are pretty linear and don’t ask for any jumping. More streaming from character to character. I have a tendency to write my stories as if it were episodic like a television show. So within a thirty minute period of viewing, you’d keep up with all the aspects of what’s going on. So Ellie draggin Quinn out of her room to go to Thanksgiving would be the start of the episode, and the ending of this story would lead to the credits (if you’re thinking run-time.)

          That doesn’t always translate into 3-posts-a-week.

  10. The discussion and the vote for Quinn to buy the dress that was 1/2 off having commenced and been finalized. All those against Quinn buying the dress that was 1/2 off signify your votes against by saying “Nay” with a comment about lasagna being used for ceiling tiles.

  11. Wait, wait, so Quinn knows about the awkward air, and she’s willing to play on it!? I’m happy, Quinn is my favorite. :3

    1. Okay, now that I’ve got Mr. Blue’s response here.

      I love this place. The seriousness and the absurdity. It’s like John Hughes, Blake Edwards, Robin Williams, Walter Cronkite, Leslie Nielson, Kentucky Fried Movie, You Can’t do that on Television all mixed together with your red and green kool aid.

      Then, then you have the message threads. I love some of you guys. The rest, eh, I could buy some of you a beer. The others, you’re probably too young for that stuff.

      Need to grow some hair on your chin for Anise to snark about first.

      Ah, yes, the Scotch Pines, lumberjack shirts… I forgot, MONTY PYTHON. One of the best mixes of serious and absurdity in the History of the World according to Queen Max.

        1. NO. I didn’t. You interuppssted me. Now shut up before I feed you to Mr. Reddish-Yellow and her RATLANTULAS!!!

          I’m sure that everyone here was wonder what may have been going on from the first strip of Shotgun Shuffle, where Ellie was found at the computer. While the artwork looks like a glossy, quick comic style, their are several layers present to show an initial depth to the characters.

          While the artist, Chris Rusche, told us about how he was utilizing different software packages to create a strip from start to finish, he still made sure that these images, although in two dimensions, were not flat in any standpoint.

          Creating tension from the first panel between siblings in order to establish the door for the viewers into his world, letting the camera initially settle in on Ellie. Perhaps because she was the least moving of the characters, I don’t know about that, just a remark. The tension started from panel one was enough to create the bait needed to bring the reader along with just tension. But his artistic dynamic in placements, conflicts and visually representing them not only with the written word, but in creative representations of the written word as well. Pumpkin’s vocal inflection is easily seen in the pattern of the letters as anyone with more than one sibling would instantly recognize as the sibling sirens to the paterfamilias police force of Mom and Dad.

          Well, I’m sure that if I’m going to be honest, Ellie would be an interesting person to date. She doesn’t seem to be high maintenance, she’s down to earth and quite possibly the 2nd to most intractable with sister that we know of. You’d have to read the series to know of whom I speak. But as far as fictional characters go, Ellie has yet to show that she can stand on better level than she’s on now, as occupied by Cilia Foote. Hot, down to earth, and very protective of those around her.

          mutters… if I wasn’t such a koothrappali… grumble

        2. Paterfamilias. Really.

          Well, Delmer and I are gonna go get the car ready, if you can get the pomade out of your hair long enough to join us.

        3. I think if Ellie were manifested in my life, she’d be a friend I was incredibly attracted to but honestly believed it wouldn’t be a good idea to date (not that I have a perfect record of listening to that belief). If I had to guess characters from what’s been seen so far as good match for me, I’d pick the points on the Erf triangle (Ginger, Tarra, & KK).

        4. I just wondered what a date with KK would be like.

          However, on a good note for today, I told a cashier at the store that I like being at the store when she’s there, because I really enjoy her smile. She lit up like a Christmas Tree in Crazy Eddie’s in July. She did a little dance too, but well. I guess I made her day.

          Yes, I am clueless, if anyone is asking.

  12. Okay, breaking character once more, but I just have to say, I love the sparks falling. Great representation, great addition, and it’s not coming out of my allowance.

  13. I’ve never been one to hold back on helping critique something that I feel comfortable critiquing. However, I know from past experience that my ability to write a storyline is horrid, and In the past I’ve never gotten too far with anything I’ve created, which I’m sure all had major plot holes and such.

    However, I will dwell on the topic at hand and see if I can not come up with some solid advice on my part.

    but on another topic
    Ellie has totally been staring at Quinn’s booty. I’m positive.

      1. Also, I may or may not be extremely excited to join a live chat with a bunch of people that enjoy the comic as well as the great Rusche himself. SO FUN!!! *_______________________________*

  14. Wow, that person has no idea what they’re talking about. I end up looking into a lot of comics because of the art, but I STAY because of the writing. I am always willing to look at all angles, but I seriously can’t see the “writing could be better” angle. Not seeing that AT ALL. I’d also be curious to see what they have to say, but I doubt it’ll be useful.

    You’re hilarious, man. Keep up the great work!

    1. Yeah, Mr. Blue thought that Willis had the absurdity down pat with the Big Cheese. But Mr. Blue only thinks that Willis is nothing more than a glorified hack pandering to his fans via fanservice and having those at his beck and call pounce on trolls for live entertainment.

  15. Are they talking about the first chapter? As much as I love this comic, the first chapter was the roughest writing-wise. Once it got into chapter two it really hit it’s stride.

    Or it could be that guy just prefers different sorts comics? Action? Fantasy? Steampunk? Sci-fi? Shotgun Shuffle isn’t the most action packed, or fan-service filled, or plot-twist-ed. . . which is a good thing. It’s more slice-of-life, with a healthy dose of comedy and a good and lighthearted focus on characters.

    Whatever. A slightly negative review is not going to change my good opinion of Shotgun Shuffle.

    1. You got that right Mr. J.

      But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Even if he’s on that side of the fence. But if you don’t mind my saying this, I think that you err in trying to assign Shotgun Shuffle in the realm of current web comic genres. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s like waiting every other day for a bit more of a John Hughes movie that you just can’t get enough of.

      1. It’s actually Ms. J, and now I have the urge to watch Home Alone and Sixteen Candles again. Now that you mention it, I can definitely see the similar vibes between the two. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like Shotgun Shuffle so much.

    2. Questionable Content & Dumbing Of Age are both on my normal read list and they’re both definitely slice-of-life comics. I think the other two are as well, though I’ve never more than skimmed through either of them.

      My guess as to this person’s problem is that Rusche strays a bit farther from “normal” both with the situations and the background. The characters are still very human with normal motivations and act in realistic ways (note I consider Tarra more plot device/background than character at this time), but it requires a little more suspension of disbelief if someone wants a “normal life” comic.

      On the other hand, my reaction to QC or DoA has never been literal laughing out loud or mentally saluting the author with statements like “You magnificent bastard” and Rusche has gotten both responses from me a time or two.

  16. Sweet Lord, in the diagram the Blind Guy and Ellie are just about in the same level of ‘out-there’. Clearly they are perfect for each-other, not that we had any doubts.

  17. Typically, someone can’t be bothered by quality of writing AND invest a good deal of time in something, the two are contradictory.
    Essentially, when people say that about something, I assume they
    a) dropped it before they actually read it, that doesn’t seem the case.
    b) have become invested in the characters but fault some specific area, in which case, that will always happen.

    Honestly, Rusche, I love your strip, and it’s at its best in small pieces. While you have an overarching plot, it’s always been a small part. That always seemed deliberate to me, and changing it would… I dunno, leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    You have the strength of most dailies standing on their own, which is something most webcomics that actually have a plot don’t do.

    As a few others have said, this is one of the few strips I check back with regularly, and the reason is, I’m amused by every strip, I’m never left wishing I’d waited to read today’s with the next one.

    Basically, I think if you changed anything up drastically, gems like your star wars/Gump parody might become impossible, since you would have to spend all of your focus on the agenda that a more detailed story would become.

  18. Well, I already made my opinion known in my blog post, but I guess I can gush- I mean comment a bit more.

    First off, I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the weird shift in Penny Arcade, but I always assumed that was because of how hectic their schedules are with being parents and managing their little media empire. However, I guess it would make sense if they had a “ghost artist” doing it.

    Second, time for a confession. When I first started reading, the sisters cast list wasn’t up, and I don’t think Blind Guy was added yet. Looking at the silhouettes (and the fact that the face symbols wasn’t explained yet) I honestly expected the comic to be extremely different when I started digging through the archives. I was thinking it was going to be a more action-y series because I saw a character silhouette was carrying some kind of weapon. I wasn’t expecting it to be what it became, if only because soooooo many comics have started with the “generic slice of life” comic just to switch to “oh hey, let’s introduce this outer space/alternate dimension/dark evil menace plot and have our characters become generic heroes instead of giving them depth.”

    I actually got worried the first time we met wheelchair ninja, because I was afraid we were suddenly about to veer off into some “my clan is attacking your sisters and the one sister’s roommate as we speak” story. I was happy it didn’t.

    To have this comic start as slice of life and continue on that way (albeit with some wackiness ensuing) is great, because we get some amazing character depth along the way even as we’re laughing and figuring out what makes characters tick.

    I will also add, I used to read about 30 webcomics back in the day before my last computer crashed and I lost all of the bookmarks. I read Sinfest, Basic Instructions, xkcd, and a few others, but I think most of what I used to read and love have ended (Melonpool was one of my favorites, as was It’s Walky! which did the whole “slice of life changes to huge alien fighting plot” but did it well) or just faded away.

    1. Sinfest was the first webcomic I was ever introduced to. I love the character design and narrative (most of the time.)

      This comic will always be more slice-of-life than anything else. Wheelchair ninja is just more elaboration that Tarra’s character is blatantly over the top. Thanks for the gush– comment. :)

      1. Every time I think Sinfest has run out of ideas, he manages to introduce one more little twist or one more character that brings the whole thing back to life. Plus, his Sunday strips are some of the most gorgeous ones I’ve ever seen.

      2. I liked Sinfest back in the day but it gradually strayed very far from the stuff I liked about it. The Bad Webcomics Wiki recently did a really good piece on Sinfest and it’s recent trend towards suckitude.

        1. I found it. I had absolutely no idea he had did such a large shift in his characters to fit a pro-feminism-movement narrative. Bizarre, man. Bizarre. Obviously shows I haven’t been to his site in a while.

    2. Wheelchair ninja made you think the comic might veer off into heroes save the world territory, but the Omega Pestilence, which didn’t come that much later, didn’t?

      Just curious because I don’t necessarily mind veering off in weird directions as long as it’s still interesting, so wasn’t worried/paying attention for that, but thinking back the ratch thing seems like a more likely excuse to force the type of change you’re talking about.

  19. You know, even I’m tired of talking about whales, so I’m happy the mall is almost over so I can go back to noticing tiny things and drawing dry comical conclusions from things.

  20. Is it weird that I enjoy the comments section of your comic almost as much as the actual comic. Not quite, of course. I’m not that desperate for human contact, but I do enjoy it greatly!

    1. agreed. It’s definitely it’s own story sometimes, almost like when they go and interview people taking part in reality shows for what they’re thinking.

      On a side note, the little Tails avatar/gravatar on Pumpkin’s Tumblr is adorable, I’d love to get one.

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