Wanderers, when I was a kid I always wanted a pet robot. I’m sure that some day, when artificial intelligence becomes indistinguishable from actual intelligence, robots will come after me for being so patronising towards them, but it’s true. I thought it would be really cool to have a robot that would just hang out and play games and hopefully not get wet ever (because we all know electricity and water don’t mix).
Fast forward a few years, and I was at college, skulking around in the canteen and generally feeling a bit bitter about the fact that there were no robots around to be revision-buddies with me (human friends have other things to do, after all). I got chatting on a study break and some of my friends started talking about a webcomic they liked. This piqued my interest, partly because I’d never even heard of webcomics before, and partly because this particular webcomic happened to be set in a world where little talking robots – AnthroPCs – were commonplace. And that, Wanderers, is how I came to be introduced to Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques.
One of the things I love most about QC is that nothing is made unnecessarily weird. Many of the main characters’ parents have somewhat unusual occupations – Marten’s and Hannelore’s mother’s spring to mind – which are more or less just accepted by the group. Another character has a robotic hand. Characters of all sexual orientations and identities abound. There are personified computers running around. None of this is treated as a particularly big deal, and this easy-going but sensitive style leads to a very relatable read for anyone who happens across the comic. It’s that much more relatable if you happen to be knowledgeable about indie music, especially at the beginning of the comic.
It’s worth mentioning that if you start at the very beginning (a very good place to start – no, no singing, sorry – [There’s something in the water this issue – Ed.] but really, I do recommend it) you’ll notice a distinct evolution both in the art style and in the comic itself as you travel through the archive. Earlier comics tended to focus a lot more on Pintsize’s antics (which are many) and Marten’s indie rock references (which are also many) but over the years the focus has decidedly shifted to more human experiences.
I could tell you more about the comic – I’m sure the Editor would be very pleased if I did – but I honestly wouldn’t know where to start talking. My advice is to check it out. Have a read. There is a slight chance that if you use the ‘random’ button on the site to get a feel for things, you might land on a Yelling Bird comic or a Turkey comic. These, while not part of the Questionable Content continuity, are gold (usually posted when Jeph is at a con or otherwise busy). If this webcomic appeals to you, you’ll know pretty soon after landing on the page, and I’d hate to spoil it for you, so I’m just going to leave you with a link to one of my favourite early strips and, just so you can see what I mean about the art style, a recent scene between Clare and Clinton. Enjoy!
I’d give this 4 out of 5. It would be a 5, but I wish we saw more of Pintsize these days.
Eleanor Musgrove (apologises for the headline… and still wants a robot)
Please note: this comic does occasionally push the boundaries of ‘Safe for Work’, so bear that in mind before you visit. Your mileage may vary.