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Comic Strip: My Cage
"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:
  • Acme Products: McGuffin Inc. and its rival Deus ex Machina Industries
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Emil the Emo Emu.
  • 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.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Norm is a platypus, but he's blue. We also have an orange shark and pink and purple dogs.
  • Animesque: King Features boasts of it being the first anime-inspired newspaper comic. Despite evidence to the contrary.
  • 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.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Maureen does her impression of a "celebutante".
  • Book Ends: The final strip, much like the first, has Norm reading a Snapple fact on a bottlecap. This one says "The End".
  • Brand X: Parodied when buying more generic groceries Norm asks what's in the box labeled "Food".
  • Call Back: Norm tells Bridget that Ashley is a 300-pound crack addict with a rare skin disease. About five months later Ashley returns the favor.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Parodied in one strip: Ashley (the tiger) mentions she's a vegetarian. Norm replies "We live in a world of talking animals! If we're not vegetarian we go to jail!"
  • Catchphrase: Ashley tries to make "Gorilla Cookies" a catchphrase, which turns out to be quite popular.
  • Cat Girl: Ashley, who will quickly remind you that she is a Bengal Tiger.
  • Cats Are Mean: Ashley has a penchant for playing very elaborate and mean-spirited pranks on her coworkers. it's implied that she torments Norm especially because she's attracted to him.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Parody: Norm imagines a remake with Oompa-Lumpa Ninjas.
  • 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.
  • Crapsack World: Of the "Happiness is a punishable offense" variety.
  • Crossover: With Slylock Fox and Cassandra Cat.
  • Crusty Caretaker: The Creepy Janitor is probably a serial killer and speaks of things like wearing Rex's skin.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Violet the receptionist has no patience for anyone.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Max. He even wields a pitchfork in one strip and in another admits to being the devil.
  • The Ditz: Jeff the Shark plays this role until the "unicorn" shows up and makes him a genius by comparison.
  • Dueling Shows: The strip has been strongly compared to Dilbert, simply because they're both set in an office. Lampshaded a few times.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Not really embarrassing, but implied that everyone's middle name is "The".
  • Enfant Terrible: Sunny is the most adorable little hellspawn you've ever seen in your life.
  • Epic Fail: How did Jeff get stuck in the water cooler?
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Violet is touched by "It's a Wonderful Life".
  • Everything's Better With Platypi: Norm.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Actually in Jeff's case, everything's even worse for sharks.
  • Exploding Calendar: Bridget's desk calendar's pages keep falling off.
  • Eye Pop: In the form of a contagious disease known as "Tex Avery Virus."
  • Fantastic Racism: Norm's neighbor is a "flight supremacist."
    • During the 2008 elections, Max didn't vote for Bearack Obama because he was "white-furred."
    • It's also common to frown on Interspecies Romance.
  • 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.
  • Four Girl Ensemble: Norm admits everything how knows about women is what he's seen on TV.
  • Furry Confusion: Subverted with Squishy the Amoeba.
  • The Gadfly: Ashley is this to Norm.
  • 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.
  • Hit You So Hard Your X Will Feel It:
    Ashley:And Norm, if you tell anyone about this, I will hurt you in ways The Three Stooges would envy.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Kenny The Unicorn.
  • Idea Bulb: Parodied; when Jeff has an idea about making the office more green, he conjures up a compact-fluorescent bulb.
    • Additionally, when the strip takes place in Norm's head, Creativity is a lightbulb.
  • Interspecies Romance: Norm and Bridget.
  • 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.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Rex and Violet's Marriage.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Parrot Hilton, Kevin Sloth, Halle Beary, Matthew Iguanahey, Vin Weasel, Jessica Albatross, Quack Black, Brad Pitbull, etc. Becomes something of a Running Gag.
  • Noodle Implements: It's probably best we not know what Ashley was planning to do with a welding torch and Norm's work ID.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: Nobody can really say what "MacGuffin Inc" does.
    • Lily once did a report on her mother's job for Take Your Daughter to Work Day. All she discovered was that they had free internet access and limited supervision.
  • Official Couple: Norm and Bridget. A big segment of the finale centered around their wedding.
  • Oh My Gods!: "The Cartoonists" are the supreme beings. Charles Schulz is the most powerful of all.
  • Oscar Bait: Norm writes a screenplay called "Saving Private Gump" were Tom Hanks plays a mentally challenged soldier during World War II.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: "Sam".
  • Parental Abandonment: Norm's mother died when he was young. Norm's Dad isn't exactly Mr. Sunshine.
  • Perky Goth: Ashley.
  • Petting Zoo People
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Max, who is even red to make him look even more like the Devil. At one point, he even lampshades it.
  • Power Trio: Norm's Brain, Heart and Libido.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Violet.
  • Prank Date: Serves as both Maureen's most horrifying experience and Creepy Janitor Guy's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Or a Red Dog anyway...
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Max and Norm, and this was Lampshaded.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Jeff can't enjoy The Daily Show for that reason.
  • 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 epic Ship 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.)
  • Shout-Out: To The Comics Curmudgeon, of all things.
    • 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.
  • Species Surname: Just about everyone, including the parody celebrities.
  • Stealth Pun: They're cereal killers.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Kenny The Unicorn is definitely not Max's illegitimate son.
  • 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."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Jeff, on occasion.
  • 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.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Go hunt yourself".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Norm and Ashley are Type 2.
  • 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 Avery Virus."
  • X Meets Y: The typical format for Norm's Fan Fiction, such as "Scooby-Doo and Shaggy Meet Hannibal Lecter."

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alternative title(s): My Cage
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