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Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
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I have become enthralled by the webcomic series Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques. It is one of the oldest webcomics in continuous publication, starting in 2003. And I started from the beginning, so I have a long journey ahead.

The series starts with a twentysomething guy named Marten befriending Faye, an employee at his favorite coffee shop. Her apartment burns down and she ends up moving in with him. There's definite "will they or won't they" vibes but they stay friends, without things turning romantic or sexual, though in fact they treat each other better than some couples do, even if the mercurial, temperamental Faye does take a swing at Marten (playfully) from time to time. And then Dora, Faye's boss at the coffee shop gets involved. She starts as a goth with a taste for metal, but starts to lose that as she warms up to Faye and Marten. Again, there's clear interest between Marten and Dora but both hold back due to the possibility of Marten becoming involved with Faye. The Faye drops a bombshell: A traumatic incident from her past has her emotionally unable to get into a serious relationship. She wants Marten as a friend, but is not ready to go further. Which leaves the door open for Dora. And that's kind of where I'm at, somewhere around 2005 or so, I think.

Other characters appear as the series moves along. Marten's buddy Steve and his girlfriend Ellen, family members (Faye's mother and sister, Marten's mother, Dora's brother), Raven (another coffee shop employee who also knows Dora from the goth world), members of a band that Marten joins, and so on. Some of them have their own plotlines, e.g. Steve and Ellen, or get involved in the Faye-Marten-Dora triangle in various ways.

All very standard rom-com or dramedy stuff so far. Cast some popular millennial or Gen Z actors in it and, boom, new TV show or movie.

But then there's an s-f element that seem to escalate as the series goes on based on what I've read about it. While the series generally appears to exist in the early 21st century as we know it, one thing is off kilter: AI exists in the form of what are called AnthroPCs. And one of them, named Pintsize and belonging to Marten, is a major supporting character. He's a holy terror, frequently damaging stuff and messing with Marten's life, and provides some terrific comic relief. And apparently, more AI characters come along later, even getting into relationships with humans.

The writing is incredibly funny. Witty banter abounds, snarky insults fly freely, even between friends, and everyone, even the somewhat dimwitted Raven, manages a zinger now and then. Realistic dialogue? It happens (e.g. when Faye opens up to Marten and Dora about her past) but seems to defer to incredibly witty banter when there's a choice.

Another characteristic is that the series is quite LGBTQ friendly. Marten's boss is gay, as is Faye's sister. Dora is bi, sometimes flirting with Faye as much as Marten. And apparently there are some important same sex relationships later on in the series.

Anyhow, here's the link to the Questionable Content site. In spite of QC being largely about sex and relationships, there's no onscreen bedroom action and even nudity is done with strategic obstructions over naughty bits. Language gets a bit salty, though, as you might expect from 21st century twentysomethings. Really, it's mostly PG-13, maybe shading into R at times (e.g. when Marten's mother turns out to be a famous dominatrix and porn actress).

Questionable Content (This will show the most recent strip on the homepage. If you want to start from the beginning as I am, click First in the row below the strip.)
 

Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
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Gah, I am getting so caught up in the lives of these fictional people. I am up to 2010-11 in terms of when the comics were written and Marten and Dora had a lengthy relationship, moved in together, and then broke up. Which I kind of knew was going to happen but somehow it still upset me a little. They seemed like such a great couple on paper, but her past relationship issues led to a conflict and they went their separate ways in the heat of the moment. Marten won't even go to the coffee shop now (since he would inevitably have to see her).

Dora's future seems like it is probably Tai, Marten's current boss. Dora is bi, Tai is lesbian, and there's been some flirting even while Marten and Dora were still together.

Marten's is less clear. Faye, formerly his best match, has now got some control over her past trauma and is in a real relationship. His neighbour Hannelore, while she does have a good friendship with Marten and the others, is a severe germphobe with OCD and until recently freaked out if someone so much as touched her (she is getting better with some help from the gang). Most of the other female cast members are now in relationships or are gay.

And I've realized another great thing about Jeph Jacques' approach. He will often have a character start as a supporting character, then ease them into the main cast over time. And sometimes, supporting characters come, play their part, then disappear.

So Angus, Faye's boyfriend, started as a customer at the coffee shop who had fun verbally sparring with her. Over time, his role expanded, as did their relationship. One of the last strips I read before bed last night had them finally hitting the sheets together.

Marigold, a new female cast member, is similar. She started as a socially isolated gamer geek who helps Marten fix Pintsize. Then she turned out to be Angus' roomie and there was a plot line about her having unrequited feelings for him, but she finally conceded him to Faye once Marigold and Angus both became friends with the rest of the group. She is also a close friend to Hannelore. who has helped her with cleanliness issues and through her post-Angus hangover.

And Hannelore herself started as a classic sitcom "weird neighbour" character (think Kramer in Seinfeld) before developing friendships with various members of the group as she started struggling to overcome her mental health issues. Most recently, she went on her first ever date with a rather unlikely character. It was quite innocent, just a night out with no real sexual element (he's a promiscuous type but he's getting over a breakup that was his own fault). She even gave him a tight hug as thanks for the date, and that's the first time she has initiated physical contact.

Part of me wants to give up. I haven't even hit strip #2000 yet and Jacques is getting close to releasing #5000. OTOH, the characters are compelling and the writing remains top notch, so I keep going back.
 

Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
Pronouns
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To some extent, I would say that Questionable Content is Friends or maybe Cheers done right. There's that whole element of a group of friends dealing with life and relationships, but their lives are more realistic relative to their socio-economic status, they are a more diverse group, and there's this nice element of keeping things fresh by bringing new characters into the main cast realistically, easing them in rather than just "hey, here's a new main character" as TV series tend to do.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
To some extent, I would say that Questionable Content is Friends or maybe Cheers done right. There's that whole element of a group of friends dealing with life and relationships, but their lives are more realistic relative to their socio-economic status, they are a more diverse group, and there's this nice element of keeping things fresh by bringing new characters into the main cast realistically, easing them in rather than just "hey, here's a new main character" as TV series tend to do.

Comment of unrealistic socioeconomic state of missing sentient may be valued ... when all thought processes out of here and now ...
 

Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Comment of unrealistic socioeconomic state of missing sentient may be valued ... when all thought processes out of here and now ...
I was referring to the oft-cited criticism of Friends that none of them seemed to have jobs that would actually support living the lifestyle they did in New York. I have always kind of gone with "that boring everyday stuff was kept offscreen" but I get the criticism. Here, you actually have Dora worrying about her coffee shop's balance sheet and people struggling with rent and taking in or keeping roommates based simply on not being able to afford the place themselves. And there's a range of socio-economic statuses, too, from a couple who are almost subsistence and working so-so jobs just because they need the income to a couple who come from fairly well-off families (e.g. Hannelore's father is a tech billionaire who lives on a space station, which another s-f element in the story).
 

Carolla

wondering & wandering
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She/Her/Her
At the moment I'm reading "Lands of Lost Borders - Out of Bounds on the Silk Road" by Canadian author Kate Harris. Was passsed on by my friend who has done some long distance cycling (ie coast to coast across Canada). Author Kate & her friend(s) are intelligent adventurers who cycle (most/much of) the Silk Road - yes, Marco Polo's silk road - do you remember that from history lessons in elementary school? It's both a travel adventure and reflection on life & what prompts people to explore new frontiers in ways that others usually do not. It's not a part of the world I know much about, so I'm constantly referring back to the map to orient myself. Finding it interesting on many levels.

Next up might be a non-fiction - "The Heart of Transformation" by Michael J. Leckie - on transformation of individuals that then transforms organizations.
 

Waterfall

Well-Known Member
I'm currently reading "Buried Giants" by Kazuo Ishiguro, who won a Nobel prize in literature for " Remains of the Day"
I'm almost finished but basically it's about a couple in post-Arthurian Britain, where the wars between the Saxons and Britons have ceased. There has been a strange mist that has come over the land that has caused everyone to forget the past. (mass amnesia.)
It's a journey of love for the 2 main characters, a married couple who have a deep love for one another, Axl and Beatrice, to find their son whom they can barely remember anything about and haven't seen for years.
Slowly they start to remember the past throughout their journey to their sons village, while encountering knights, dragons and warriors.
Enjoying it so far...
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
When day collapses ... can you imagine the visions? Maybe a Black Horse of sorts ...

Thus may carry the entire sphere of light ...
 

BetteTheRed

Resident Heretic
Pronouns
She/Her/Her
I'm currently reading The Forgotten Home Child recommended by a friend. So far, a good read, about a part of Canadian/U.K. history that I know little of.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
I have always been interested in the concept of the unconscious psyche and the nature of it being abstract and no existent.

Has anybody read any literature on this mysterious portion of the great forest of intellect ... the darker side of what we call mystery and myth with layer upon layer of context?

It appears there are groups absolutely against it ... "cons" including those of con science posing awkwardly ... thus wrinkles!

Folds in time?

If you could root something out of these places would you be condemned by another class? Life appears like that for folk that wish to be greater than they are in virtue! Thus much misinformation for questionable values ...
 

Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Has anybody read any literature on this mysterious portion of the great forest of intellect ... the darker side of what we call mystery and myth with layer upon layer of context?
In fiction, Davies definitely played in that space, esp. in the Deptford trilogy. He was a Jungian so archetypes and that sort of thing come up a lot in his work, but with Deptford it's pretty explicit, esp. in The Manticore.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
In fiction, Davies definitely played in that space, esp. in the Deptford trilogy. He was a Jungian so archetypes and that sort of thing come up a lot in his work, but with Deptford it's pretty explicit, esp. in The Manticore.

Imagine dark flowering things like galangal roots! Got ta wonder about busy corruptions ...
 

Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Marten's is less clear.
And it's clear now. After a couple false starts with other women, he kissed an intern from the college library where he works who was clearly interested in him (and him in her) in the last strip I read. They've been friends for a while and she came out to him as trans at a party one weekend. So, yeah, the cismale lead is now in a relationship with a (cute, redheaded) transwoman. And from my peeks at the current storylines, they are still together in the current storyline 2000 strips later though it looks like a new career opportunity for her might become a problem.

In fact, basically all the main characters except Hannelore, whose anxieties around physical contact are still keeping her from getting involved with anyone intimately, are now spoken for at the moment. And I'm thinking and hoping her day may come. She's already become less anxious about physical contact, at least if she is initiating or expecting it.

Dang, I am really into these fictional people, eh.
 

Delightful Life

M&M, Cascadian Lovers
Found this orphan :3

The Dancing WuLiMasters
By Gary Zukav

This book was one of those books I would tend to see on everyonez bookshelf

Along with the Ludlumz, Lustbaderz, Francis, Shogun Dood...
 

Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Questionable Content continues to fascinate. Jeph Jacques has a great approach to handling his large cast. There will usually be a couple characters or couples whose story is the main driver while the rest move into supporting roles. Then as those storylines reach a point of maturity, others will move into the foreground and the previous main characters move into supporting roles. And he still drops new characters from time to time.

So we had the story of Faye and her new AI girlfriend and business partner Bubbles dominating for a while (there's a long story about Faye's breakup from her last relationship and how she ended up with Bubbles) but they are pretty settled now so other stories are starting to come forward, including the first wedding between major characters as Marten's boss Tai proposed to her girlfriend, and Marten's ex, Dora. Marten's own relationship with Claire seems to be ticking along nicely. They are living together now but not talking nuptials yet. She's major stressed out as she does her final set of exams before graduating with a library science degree (yay!).
 
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