Comic Strip: What's New? with Phil and Dixie
What's New? with Phil and Dixie
is a gaming comic by Phil Foglio
that ran originally in TSR's role-playing-centered Dragon Magazine
, and then in the official Magic: The Gathering
magazine. It's now republished on the web
This comic strip provides examples of:
- Appliance Defenestration: Played straight in page 1 and page 2 of the comic in Dragon magazine #63 (July 1982), in which computers are hurled through open windows by owners frustrated with fantasy RPG programs.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: On casting models for Magic: The Gathering cards:
Agent: Do you have any trouble working with elves, trolls, fairies, minotaurs, wizards, merfolk, werewolves, vampires, zombies or artists?
Model: Ew...real artists?
- Author Avatar: Phil
- Bear Hug: In panels #5-6 of a comic from Dragon magazine #58 (February 1982).
- Bedouin Rescue Service: Parodied in one strip. "Hi! You folks lost?"
- Bowties Are Cool: Dixie often wore an oversized bow tie in the early strips.
- The Cameo: A credited one by Tramp's Wormy, and uncredited walk-ons by many others (e.g. Skywise).
- Canon Discontinuity / Old Shame: They claim never to have heard of Magic: The Gathering in one of the strips after that period ended. (This is justified in-universe by a Robotic Reveal, but still.)
- Cash Cow Franchise: Mocked in "a story it will be easy to fit expansion sets onto" and some others.
- Catapult Nightmare: In one strip◊, Phil and Dixie wake up from a dream (shown in previous strips) in which their Character Alignments were changed to Evil. Unfortunately for them, it turns out it wasn't All Just a Dream.
- Chainmail Bikini: Discussed.
- Costumes Change Your Size: In Dragon magazine #68 (December 1982), a man who's 6 feet tall and weighs maybe 300 lb. becomes an elven woman at least two feet shorter. When asked how he did it, he says "Special shoes".
- Covert Pervert: Elves, as revealed in these two strips.
- Death by Origin Story: Parodied when a nascent superhero is subjected to so many different methods of acquiring superpowers simultaneously that he is reduced to ashes.
- Description Porn: The comic in Dragon magazine (June 1983) played this for laughs. Demonstrating a spy's ability to be intimately familiar with all sorts of weapons, it shows a spy coolly rattling off the name and statistics for a Mauser 1906, an AR-15 assault rifle, and... a rubber duck.
Spy: ...capable of killing five men simultaneously.
- Deus ex Machina: Invoked in a discussion of why overpowered superheroes are unsatisfying, where a superhero named Deus Ex Machina Man is saved from a gun-toting criminal by a falling safe.
- Didn't See That Coming: The robot doubles have already read the comics ahead, analysed Phil's writing style and claim "There is nothing you can write that we are not prepared for." So, he gets Dixie to write the next page, which turns out rather unpredictably.
- Disneyfication: Inevitably will be applied to Magic: The Gathering: The Movie.
"...of course, there are elements of game play that'll be changed onscreen to make the characters more sympathetic."
- Everything's Better with Penguins: "It's a Penguin Generator! Wow! I've wanted one of these for YEARS!!"
- Evil Costume Switch: Dixie undergoing a literal lampshaded costume switch, complete with the large breasts. Phil also gets a costume switch when he turns evil, but with less lampshade hanging.
- Evil Is Sexy: In-universe example — Dixie's reasons for her Face-Heel Turn.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The mini-game Escape from C'thulu. "You just open the box, read aloud the enclosed incantation... ...and then, escape."
- Face-Heel Turn: Toward the end of What's New?, Dixie turned into a Card-Carrying Villain because she figured evil has better fashion sense.
You're changing alignment
? But why? Dixie:
Are you kidding? The perks are fantastic! Better hair — bigger bust
— bitchin' outfits — plus
I get my own minions!
- Fanservice: Dixie provides this in spades.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot: Done as a gag, with the pair answering fake letters from gamers. Also an in-character fake letter that Phil sent in as a joke.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: A misshap with a mind-switching device results in Dixie and Growf switching bodies for a few strips.
- Freudian Excuse: How some evil geniuses (with a slight resemblance to a certain Baron von Wulfenbach) come to be.
- Game Breaker: In-Universe, the Rukh egg.note
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: A young man wishes to become a whoremaster, but the guidance counselor tells him there's more to it than just LXIX (69).
- Gulliver Tie Down:
- Hand Rubbing: In Dragon magazine #53 (September 1981), Phil shows us how it's done in panel #4.
Phil: Do with it? Why — I know exactly what we can do with it! Heh! Heh! Heh!
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: In the last few strips, after Phil turns evil, Dixie becomes "uber-good" when she realizes she can still dress sexy while being heroic... but mostly so she could continue kicking Phil's ass.
- Hocus Tropus: One strip includes versions of Disappearing Box, Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat, and Saw a Woman in Half.
- Hurricane of Puns: An explanation of the "Jester" prestige class includes a demonstration on how to turn a Hurricane of Puns into an effective — if somewhat indiscriminate — weapon.
- I Can See My House from Here: Said by Dixie in a strip about flight.
- I Got a Rock: Word for word.
- Impossibly-Low Neckline: Dixie's outfit after she's become Lawful Good combines this with an Absolute Cleavage. As she remarks, being übergood still gives you the fashion perks of evil.
- Janitor Impersonation Infiltration:
- Matchlight Danger Revelation: The comic in Dragon #50 used this. Phil and Dixie were exploring the TSR dungeon in the dark and realized there was someone else with them. Phil lit a match, revealing that the other creature was actually a demon. Then the demon blew out the match...
- Mirror Morality Machine: Responsible for Phil's Face Heel Turn.
- Morally Ambiguous Ducktorate: In an issue about spy games, one of the spy gadgets identified by a recruit as a trainee test is a rubber duckie. Apparently not a normal one, as he points out that it's capable of killing several people simultaneously (and has a plastic squeaker device in its mouth, too).
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: The alien spy in this page.
- Motor Mouth: The comic in Dragon #67 (November 1982) had an example (see the last two panels).
- Ms. Fanservice: Dixie Null is basically the ultimate sexy geek Girl Next Door (aside from her extended stint as a bikini-wearing supervillain).
- Neck Lift: Once happened to a game-company flack who interrupted yet another attempt by the hosts to address the topic of Sex In D&D. One panel shows him being subjected to this trope; the next reveals that it's Dixie, rather than Phil, who's doing it.
- Nice Hat: Phil's bowler.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Magic card illustrations.
- On the Next: Perennially subverted by Running Gag promises that "Sex in D&D" would be next month's topic.
- Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: This strip reveals the disturbing nature of orc flirting.
- Our Dragons Are Different: A recurring character (or plot device) was Growf, a tiny purple dragon that induced Squees followed by third degree burns, and reproduced by Explosive Parthenogenesis when wetted.
- Our Elves Are Better: Parodied here. And here.
Phil: Though for some reason they're not well liked.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder: What's New? offers this take on exactly why there's no consensus on gnomes.
- Pirate Girl: In its Magic: The Gathering days, the strip depicted semi-retired characters, including Benalish Hero turned into a Pirate Queen and converting the Island Base into a resort.
- Production Foreshadowing: Towards the end of the run, Krosp from the then-in-development Girl Genius makes several appearances. Both Krosp and Agatha also appear in thefourth panel.
Hey... if he wants the chief spy job that
bad, he can have
- Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: A strip about live action role-playing talked about how magicians get the short end of the stick. The strip showed a stage magician telling one of his teammates how his 'useless' magic tricks had just saved their lives. The teammate then asked what he was going to do when he ran out of rabbits and pulled back to show the magician pulling rabbits out of his hat to feed to the monster that was attacking them.
- Pungeon Master: A proposed "Jester" archetype for Dungeons & Dragons is shown to kill monsters with pun-attacks. (And, not incidentally, his party, demonstrating that Puns aren't picky about targets.)
- Rage Quit: "Oh! No! A power failure!"
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Growf
- Riddle of the Sphinx: In a What's New? report on riddles, Phil is caught by a sphinx who reveals that since everybody knows the answer to the traditional Riddle of the Sphinx now, she's switched to a new one: "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"
- Robot Me:
- Running Gag:
- In the 1980s run of What's New?, Phil and Dixie kept promising that their expose of "Sex and D&D!" was on its way, only to be put off for another month each issue. When it finally did arrive, it was just about the mating habits of various monsters. Psych! One might suggest that they ultimately provided this with XXXenophile...
- The mail snail became a slo-o-owly crawling gag.
- Shame If Something Happened: The gnomes' modus operandi.
Gnome: This cartoon, for instance. It would be a shame if something happened to it.
- Shapeshifter Baggage: An aversion is described as one of the potential problems with shapeshifting. The shapeshifter tries to disguise himself as a flower in a field of flowers... but he cannot change his mass, and so his flower rather stands out.
- Shock Party: One of the strips in Dragon magazine was about espionage Tabletop RPGs. Part of it explained why it was a really bad idea to throw a surprise birthday party for an undercover spy. It starts in the last panel here and concludes at the top of this one.
- Shout-Out: Regularly.
- Something Person: The look at roleplaying superheroes featured Gazebo Boy.
- Stripperiffic: Dixie's ninja outfit, among others.
- Stating the Simple Solution: Lampshaded in a strip about minion recruitment.
Greven il-Vec: Done much minioning?
Krosp: "All is in readiness." "You're a genius, sir." "Don't screw around — kill him now!"
Greven: Not bad, but Volrath won't listen to that last one.
Krosp: They never do.
- Stop Helping Me!: In-Universe in a piece on animal companions: "Some animals possess human level intelligence or better. These can be disastrous. And some are just animals that want to help you and think they can. These are worse."
- They Fight Crime: Magic: The Gathering – The Movie
- Underboobs: When Dixie is in her Ninja persona, her outfit includes underboobs.
- Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: The strip in Dragon magazine #72 (April 1983) was about jesters. The middle of this page has a jester killing a monster with bad puns. The next panel shows the danger of unintended side effects.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: The end of the Heel Face Revolving Door arc.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: An episode about superheroes included a panel about the need to have powers that are actually useful: "Gazebo Boy finds his singular power of metamorphosis useless against the evil Termite!"
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: A god in a game uses this reasoning for explaining why he has to appear in the form of a fiery horse.