Comic Book: Meanwhile
Meanwhile is a comicbook by Jason Shiga.One day, Jimmy goes to eat some ice cream. Afterwards, finding himself in desperate need of a bathroom, he runs to the nearest house and asks to use the facilities. Then the owner introduces himself as Professor K, and asks Jimmy if he would like to help test one of his inventions: a machine that can travel back in time ten minutes, a machine that can read memories, or a box that can kill everyone on Earth.Jimmy says yes, and the results aren't pretty.Meanwhile is a branching storyline that unfolds differently depending on Jimmy's choices, and the bizarre branching panel layout reflects this. And most of these branches end unpleasantly: death, endless feedback loops, or the discovery of a very dark secret about Jimmy's world. The reader is pretty much required to read every branch in order to get the entire picture—and the one happy ending can only be reached by cheating.Meanwhile can be read here on Jason Shiga's website. Or bought as a book with full-color art. Or as an iOS app.Not to be confused with the tropes Meanwhile Scene and "Meanwhile, Back at the..."
This comicbook provides examples of:
- Choose Your Own Adventure
- Connected All Along: Zig-zagged in one of the possible endings. Jimmy goes back in time and lives as all of the characters in the story: the ice cream man who gave Jimmy ice cream, the scientist, and Jimmy's own father. He raises his child self as his son.
- Depopulation Bomb / Doomsday Device: At face value, the Killotron is a device which inexplicably kills all human life in the universe. However, with the proper preparations, it can be used to prune off alternate quantum possibilities and thus control entropy. The upshot of this is that proper use of the Killotron can apparently result in Utopia.
- Easter Egg: Page 41 and page 47. There are links (tabs) that go to these pages, but none of them are reachable from the start.
- Also the alternate ending, an infinite loop hidden in plain sight on one page spread. In it, Jimmy finds Ultima, a Utopian world free of entropy. On this note, during the argument between Jimmy and his past self, there is one panel that cannot ever be reached normally where one of the two Jimmies says "Ultima" for no apparent reason. This is potentially a clue to the above-mentioned alternate ending for those who know what it's a Shout-Out to (see below).
- Mad Scientist
- Mundane Utility: The Doomsday Machine also makes ice cream.
- It controls entropy, which allows it to reconfigure matter. And it destroys entire parallel worlds to do so.
- Shout-Out: Ultima (see Easter Egg above) is a reference to the Easter Egg of the same name in the Choose Your Own Adventure book Inside UFO 54-40. The Ultimas of both books are utopias that can only be reached one way: cheating.
- Temporal Paradox: Averted. Jimmy used the time machine to go back in time and raise his younger self as his own son. This is not quite a Stable Time Loop in that he also prevented his younger self from using the SQUID to implant himself with his father's memories, therefore ensuring that he himself never came into existence. Of course, by this point, the universe's failure to implode properly is the least of the world's problems.
- Time Machine