"This is King Features calling to inform that you have been cancelled."
My Cage is a syndicated comic strip by Melissa DeJesus and Ed Power. It features a world of anime-inspired anthropomorphic animals, including our hero, Norman T. Platypus, who looks to survive the daily rigors of his soul-sapping office job at McGuffin Inc. when he would much rather be poor and creative. He's joined in his personal hell by his co-workers, included Ashley, a tiger that delights in tormenting him, Maureen, his attractive gold-digging office mate, Jeff, an incredibly stupid shark that works out of a bathtub, Rex, a doberman who is the egotistical fiance of Violet, a chihuahua with the darkest of hearts, and finally the boss Max, a red dog who Norm believes to be Satan himself. Rounding out the cast is Norm's freespirited fiance, a dog named Bridget, and Squishy, Norm's beloved pet amoeba whom he appears to love more than anyone else.The strip ran from May 6, 2007 until it was suddenly canceled, with its finale running on October 31st, 2010. Ed and Mel's blog for the strip seems to have expired after some severe technical difficulties, but the strip has been in reruns on gocomics.com. Additionally, the creators announced plans to try and revive the series as a webcomic in the future once the rights to the characters revert back to them.This comic strip provides examples of:
After the End: Maureen explains to Lily that humans disappeared off the Earth a long time ago and animals eventually took over society. The comics summary on its current gocomics.com run explicitly mentions the apocalypse backstory.
Art Evolution: The strips art changes greatly in the course of three years, starting with heavy animesque influences against largely white space before gradually becoming rounder, more expressive and more colorful.
Author Guest Spot: Ed Porker and Melissa DeHaresus appear in the "Meet Your Maker" story.
Children Are Innocent: Played semi-straight with Maureen's daughter, Lily, though Norm is working his hardest to dispel it every time he babysits her. Violet and Rex's daughter Sunny, on the other hand, is an outright aversion.
Chirping Crickets: Chris pulls this trope after one of Max's attempts at a motivational speech. Easy to do since he actually is a cricket.
Cool Big Sis: Though she started out as a simple Gold Digger, Maureen started to evolve into a workplace equivalent of this to Norm, in a strange sort of way.
Fetus Terrible: During Violet's ultrasound the doctor is quite terrified that the baby's heartbeat sounds like the theme from Jaws. The strip was cancelled before this could be properly built up into an arc.
Fish out of Water: Jeff in the literal sense. His desk is in a bathtub filled with water; however, he doesn't seem to have any problems "walking" around like anyone else. Though like Aquaman he does splash himself with water from the cooler every so often.
Geeky Turn-On: Norm has a thing for smart women. Its also why Norm and Bridget belong together.
Gender Equals Breed: Subverted. Bridget (A Dog) has a daydream about her future children with Norm (A Platypus): A platypus girl and a puppy boy. However, their hair colors do match gender.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Showed up from time to time, and the official blog used to run the ones that did get caught. It became increasingly common during the final couple of months.
Gold Digger: Maureen the "Poverty Avoider" though she's been shown to have Hidden Depths. Furthermore, she wants money less to blow it all on superficial things and more to ensure financial stability for her daughter.
Hair Colors: Violet's hair is uh... Violet, Bridget's is pink. Not many other characters have hair over their... fur. (Norm, who is prematurely bald, doesn't even have fur on his head.)
He Cleans Up Nicely Bridget comments how good Norm looks in a suit. He tells her to savor the image as the suit makes him sweat in buckets.
Hilarity Ensues: Subverted and Lampshaded as Violet gets ready to have her baby, and its not as "wacky" as she'd thought it would be.
Lampshaded Double Entendre: Subverted. Norm mentions to Rex that even though he wasn't able get a dinner reservation he and Bridget still have "plans" (complete with ribbing and winking). Rex correctly guesses that said "plans" are eating mac and cheese in front of Heroes.
Meaningful Name: "Norm" is Average. Rex and Violet is a play on "Sex and Violence", their daughter's name is Sunny. "Ash"ley is the Perky Goth.
Schedule Slip: The strip's official blog experienced some severe technical difficulties in late 2010 and has since become defunct, which caused a screeching halt to the reruns prior to the move to gocomics.
Sequel Hook: The final daily strip hints at "Santa vs. Dracula" being published as a book. The joke being that it is Ed Power and Melissa DeJesus's actual second project together.
Ship Tease: Norm and Ashley get a lot of deliberately acknowledged moments. Ashley once commented that she's only attracted to Norm when he's in a relationship.
Culminating in an epicShip Tease with Norm and Ashley finally admitting their true feelings to each other...only to be interrupted by a personification of King Features Syndicate, come to inform them that the strip is being cancelled. (The revelation was dropped immediately thereafter and Norm and Ashley's relationship went back to normal for the ending strips.)
Probably because Ed Power was a commenter there before the strip started and a lurker/occasional poster for its entire run - many of the 'Mudges were big My Cage fans as well.
The strip for October 17th, 2010 made another shout to the Comics Curmudgeon community and its founder, Dean's Comic Booth, The Daily Comics Review, and several Curmudegeonites and other fans of the strip by name.
To John Hughes in a Sunday Strip shortly after his death.
Ed revealed in a comment on Gocomics that Bridget T. Dog was named after Bridget Jones because his wife was reading one of the books while he was assembling the proposal for the strip.
Small Name, Big Ego: Rex practically personifies this, to the point where he is almost completely incapable of speaking about any subject besides himself in spite of nobody caring who he is.
Take That: A story arc that originally ran in late 2009 ripped into the "Lisa Dies of Cancer" story arc in Funky Winkerbean when Jeff's son performed in a play based on it.
Norm and Bridget's off-panel break-up was intended as a slam against For Better or for Worse, which ended its run with a Wall of Text epilogue after a main character's wedding that attempted to explain what should have been shown in the strip in only a few panels. In My Cage, the only people happy after the wedding are the bride and groom, because they hated the wedding and the honeymoon and they thrive off being miserable.
Take That, Critics!: In one of the final strips, the authors made a special mention of a Comics Curmudgeon forumite named kahvigirl who had written a diatribe where she accused My Cage of being nothing more than "Cathy in furry drag". They awarded this poster the Golden Squishy for "Best insult of 'My Cage' on the Internet".
Tempting Fate: Norm quits his job after yet another idiot was put in charge. "We'll be OK as long as there aren't any surprises."
To the Batnoun!: Norm imagines himself as Batypus, gets hurt, and asks for a bat-ambulance as he thinks he's ruptured his bat-spleen.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Used in a sitcom parody, and then later made official with Norm and Bridget's marriage. (The cartoonists had intended for both to be "average-looking," but readers said otherwise.) In still more Lampshade Hanging, Maureen once complained about people expecting her to go through with this trope. Cue Norm's panicked attempt to distract Bridget.
The Unseen: Steve, who phones in why he isn't coming to work.
What Might Have Been: Word Of God is that a planned Running Gag was for Rex and Violet's child, Sunny was to be an Anti-Christ like force of evil, opposed by Norm and Bridget's yet-to-exist child. Cancellation put the kibosh on those plans, though it might be revisited if/when the comic goes to full webcomic format.
Wingding Eyes: Apparently in this universe such pupils are medical condition. When Maureen learns her date makes 500K a year, her eyes bug out with dollar signs, which frightens her date and she has to be taken to the emergency room where she is treated for the "Tex AveryVirus."