Monica's Gang (originally titled Turma da Mônica) is a hugely popular Brazilian comic book series that has been running since the 1960s. It was created by Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Souza.The series has countless comic books, strips and almanacs, and is divided in several branches. The main one features four main 7-year-old kids and takes place in São Paulo:
Smudge (Cascão): Jimmy Five's best friend. A pigpen at heart, he has aquaphobia and will refuse to take a bath at any cost. A very skilled soccer player.
Maggy (Magali): Monica's best friend, and basically the poster girl to the Big Eater trope; she loves to eat, particularly watermelons, but never gains any weight or anything, being very skinny in contrast with her red-clad friend. She also tends to be rather girly sometimes.
The Cavern Clan (Turma do Piteco): A caveman dealing with his prehistorical life. There are dinosaurs alongside the giant mammals, of course (protagonist Pitheco was even the one who found Horácio's egg).
Tina's Pals (Turma da Tina): A teenager and her friends, which include her blue-haired best friend, her chubby best female friend and said friend's boyfriend.
The Tribe (Turma do Papa-Capim): A group of Brazilian native-americans.
The Funnies (Turma do Astronauta): A Brazilian astronaut's journey through the cosmos. Frequently stumbles by classic sci-fi characters (a story had him sending his ship to be fixed; Kirk and Spock, Darth Vader, E.T. and the crew from Lost in Space are in the mechanic too), and it can be sometimes adventurous, sometimes pholosophical (in fact, the first graphic novel of the Graphic MSP seal, which deals with Mauricio's characters as seen by other prominent Brazilian comics artists, stars Bubbly in a study on loneliness).
Lionel's Kingdom (Turma da Mata): A group of jungle animals. The English title has the name of the ruler of said jungle (a lion, of course), but the main character is the elephant Thunder (Jotalhão), originally created for the ads of a tomato sauce (which had a realistic elephant◊ on its cans, but eventually changed to Thunder◊).
Anatomy Anomaly: The main characters don't have toes, with the only exception being Jimmy Five (actually, the only characters who have toes are those who regularly wear shoes - except for Chuck Billy and his buddies). Also, Glu is the only dog with no nose (he also walks on two paws, so you might wonder if he's a dog at all...)
Lampshaded in an 80s story where Monica finds out she has no toes and, along with Smudge, decides to complain to Mauricio about it. He manages to convince them by telling them that this is one of the traits that make them unique characters, and then goes back to his sketching board and gets horrified upon trying to draw Monica with toes.
Well, there is an entire team working in Monica stories, so this may be a subversion. Just pick up any of their running comic books (except for the Teen Gang series) and see how much the art varies from story to story. Therefore, it's more like Art Shift (though Mauricio's own drawing style has gotten closer and closer to his characters' depictions in the comics over the years).
Art Shift: One 2009 story was about Jimmy Five and Smudge swiping supporting character Marina's magic pencil and being transported to various comic book worlds. Much Shouting Out ensues.
The plot was revisited the following year. This time, it's Captain Fray who steals Marina's pencil in order to pull off yet another of his worldwide pollution plans, and he drags Smudge (whom he considers his disciple) along for the ride.
Ascended Extra: Monica and Chuck Billy started as minor characters. Both are protagonists now.
Minor case: Smudge and Maggy were secondary characters, and in 1982 and 1989, respectively, gained their own series.
Beautiful All Along: Chuck Billy's teacher is very attractive without her glasses and taking down her hair.
Belligerent Sexual Tension / Slap-Slap-Kiss: A basic description of Monica and Jimmy Five's relationship. Somewhat downplayed in their teen incarnation, when Jimmy - ahem, J - is much less of a Jerk Ass, but not entirely since both him and Monica are more accepting of their relationship by then.
Beware the Nice Ones: Maggy is one of the most unambiguously good characters in the comics, but don't mess with her friends.
Big Ball of Violence: Every time someone's fighting, it devolves into this. Even if it's one of the typical Curb Stomp Battles Monica has with the boys - and even if it's only Jimmy getting beat up.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Maggy. Usually your nice girl, but when food is involved, her unpleasant side comes up. Examples include always taking huge bites out of other people's food, outright invading Monica's house for food and thinking there's nothing wrong with it and eating all at once to not share with other people. It carries to the manga as well, where she's not above stalking the teacher she has a crush on despite being on a relationship with Todd, and, when Monica and Jim had the argument that caused him to break off their thing with each other because of Monica's inability to back down and stubbornness, talking to Monica that Jim didn't deserve her and she needs to forget him.
Boring Invincible Hero: Monica reaches this status sometimes, specially when she's not the star of the title or the story and still beats the villain (great example is a Batman Forever parody where she was Nicole Kidman's character Chase Meridian, while Jimmy played Batman and Smudge was Robin; as she was being held captive by The Riddler - Franklin - and he threatened to spread out Batman's secret identity, everyone suddenly started insulting her - including Batman and Robin!!! As a result, she got so angry that she broke out by herself and started laying down the law on everyone in the room - so much so, she even managed to separate Nimbus and Nick Nope, who had been fused into that story's version of Two-Face.
Lampshaded once in Smudge's book, when they encounter a vampire:
Smudge: Monica! Please save us! Use your strength!
Monica: Why me? This is your book! You're the one who's supposed to save us!
Then after beating up that vampire, plus two more, who had to offend her:
Monica: Sorry, Smudge. I know this is your comic book, but they've just gone too far.
It's becoming endemic with the movie parodies, where plush bunnies are used to defeat basically every villain.
Bullying a Dragon: Jimmy and co. know of Monica's strength. They know she has a short fuse. They know they'll get their asses handed to them in platters if they make fun of her. Not that this has ever actually stopped them.
Butt Monkey: Usually either Smudge or Sunny, but pretty much every boy in the gang has been one at a point.
The writers lately seem to enjoy having one field day after another asserting Sunny's status as Butt Monkey.
Cat Up a Tree: One by one, while trying to rescue a cat from a tree, all four main members of Monica's Gang got themselves stuck until the branch they were sitting on gave in and they fell. After that, they left and the cat remained stuck and forgotten.
Franklin once scolded his dog for growling at a cat that was up a tree. Then he tried to rescue the cat, only to be scratched by the ungrateful animal. Franklin was now the one growling. The dog smiled at this.
And say "bye-bye, mom!" whenever Blu literally kicks him out of them.
The Chew Toy: Sunny, whose "secondary character" status is frequently mentioned, even by other secondary characters (he's a recurring victim on the Tumblr mentioned in Memetic Mutation, which even did a whole day featuring panels of "Sunny sucks").
Also, as of late, everyone in the gang seems to be getting a piece of the cake, thanks to the new writing team (responsible for what you see in the 2000s stories mentioned in the It Runs on Nonsensoleum entry below). Many times the characters show an absurd lack of consideration for the problem at hand or whoever should be helped: case in point is this story, where Jimmy gets his head stuck in the bathroom sink while trying to wash his hair (or lack thereof).
Continuity Porn: Particularly in recent years, as the writers decide to reference really old stories (or long-forgotten plot points, such as Captain Frey being Smudge's crazy uncle). The Milestone Celebration of 500 Mônica issues was filled with this!
Crazy Enough to Work: Jimmy once defeated Monica. How? In one page-long newspaper comic from the nineties, Monica is shown falling off a cliff while running from bees. After painfully crashing through lots of things as she fell, she gets her head stuck on a fence (which has a target on it) and is left unconscious. Near the fence, Smudge tells Jimmy that there's no way his lastest plan is going to work.
Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Smudge seems to have a knack to always say improper things at the wrong time. This is usually what crashes Jimmy's "infallible plans", but he has given himself away many other times.
Dinner with the Boss: Maggy's Dad's boss once had dinner with her family and she was told to control herself. Easier said than done. Maggy's Dad was afraid he'd be punished but instead his boss gave him a raise so he'd be able to support her.
Does Not Like Shoes: Monica and most of her friends (Jimmy Five nowithstanding) walk barefoot, though they wear shoes every now and then.
Actually, there was one story where Jimmy used a boomerang and a minirecorder to trick Monica into thinking her bunny didn't like her anymore and wanted to be Jimmy's instead of hers. He intended to ask Smudge to join but Smudge had a fever so high he couldn't even leave bed. He hated it until it became the reason he didn't get involved with the plan.
In the story where the fever prevented Smudge from joining, the spanner was Mr. Five demanding the boomerang and the minirecorder. Jimmy took them without asking for his permission first.
Flanderization: Sooo much in the late years (since the last decade, or even right at the end of The Nineties). The kids are much more hyperactive and have some traits amped up so as to come across as almost negative - for example, having the resident Big Eater flying into a frenzy at the slightest mention of anything food-related, and using Sunny's perceived "lack of notability" to make him the all-around Butt Monkey (something he was never known for before). Also, they tack in lots of OOC Moments (many of these shown in the Memetic Mutation link - the period can be told by the art style), if only for Rule of Funny.
Flower Pot Drop: Monica once accidentally dropped one from an apartment window and hurried down. She couldn't use the stairs because they were being washed back then so she had to wait for an elevator. Despite this, she managed to arrive on time to be hit.
Forgets to Eat: Used to be one of Junior's defining characteristics (though he was intentionallyneglectful), just so he could act as a foil to Maggy. While he has not lost this one, his role in the stories has shifted deep into Bratty Half-Pint (especially towards Jimmy Five. Poor Jimmy).
Four-Temperament Ensemble: Monica is (very much) choleric, Jimmy Five is sanguine, Smudge is melancholic, and Maggy is supine.
Team Pet = Blu (mainly on the merchandise, for two reasons: 1. each of the other characters has a pet of their own, and 2. in-universe, Blu is Franklin's pet dog - since they were both created together, in 1959, which laid the basis for the rest of the Gang)
Getting Crap Past the Radar: During one episode, Jimmy Five, wanting to get more than just five strands of hair, accidentally ends up with Monica's hairdo and is mistaken for her multiple times. At one point, when it's his mother that makes the mistake, he exclaims, "Mom, it's me!" and opens his towel showing her his genitals to prove his point, with the expected reaction from her. TL;DR, he flashed his own mother. (It's the avatar for the parody site mentioned in Memetic Mutation.)
A considerable amount of Chuck Billy's comics are all about that. Deflorestation, pollution, "how living in a city turns you into a sedentary paranoid" - if his cousin is involved in the comic there is a 99% chance that the story will be about that -, or how the "bad men" will hunt innocent animals for money. He has been turned into several kinds of animals and even engaged into conversation with a waterfall and the Sun himself.
Parodied in one of Jimmy Five's stories, when the title character says "Wait, do you think I like to live in nature, green and stuff? Who the heck do you think I am? Chuck Billy?"
Most of Tom-Tom's comics are also like this, with emphasis on pollution. That, or how teamwork is important.
Improbable Weapon User: Monica uses a blue stuffed rabbit to beat up the boys who annoy her, and just about every bad guy that shows up.
It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Several Jimmy Five's stories in the late 2000's. Before that, it was just the stories with Nutty Ned or his dog, but lately he's been dwelling in the absurdism every now and then (and not only him, it must be said). However, back in 1985, in his issue #155, he had a VERY weird story in wich he, while fleeing from Monica, finds the stairwell that connects heaven and hell, and as he walks upward, he starts to become a spirit. He then threats Monica and claims that he is becoming a DARK GOD, with flames and all. Then, Angel comes from heaven and tells Monica on how Lucifer became a fallen angel and turned several angels into demons by descending the stairwell (this prompted Heaven to shut it down and switch to a one way elevator). AND THEN, Smudge appears and manages to trick Jimmy into giving him the marbles Smudge did lend to him once, and somehow throws Jimmy back to land. When Monica and Angel are about to thank Smudge, it reveals that he is really Satan and used the illusion to stop Jimmy from becoming another God, since God himself is more than enough to be his rival. Mind Screw much? Oh, by the way, the story is titled as "O Deus Cebola", or "Jimmy the God". For some reason it is nearly impossible to find any sort of info regarding that story.
Jerk Ass: Jimmy can be one of these many times, and not only to Monica. He has been seen setting up infallible plans to make Smudge bathe, and even used Maggy's appetite as a weapon against Monica, for instance. A real Enfant Terrible. But, in general, he falls more into Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Although Jimmy could fall into Alternative Character Interpretation. Is he a Jerk Ass like described above? Or is he just giving payback for people constantly making fun of his speech problems? Early stories show people pulling pretty mean-spirited jokes about it. The Alternate Jim in the manga became an utter jerk BECAUSE of people picking on his speech problems. That's enough to make a lot of people bitter. To be fair, people don't pick on him nearly as much as he and the other boys do to Monica. If that would be a reason for Jimmy to be such a jerk, then Monica should become an absolute bitch. Jimmy's problem (especially as of late) is being selfish to a fault, though this can be played with considering that Jimmy thinks Monica pulled a Spotlight-Stealing Squad on him (he was created in 1960 and was the main character of Mauricio's strips until 1963, when Monica debuted and became the title character) and wants to repay her in kind.
Long Pants: You see someone wearing social pants and shoes, they're like this. Except in the rare case that the pants and shoes are different colors, or they're drawn in promo artwork (i.e. not within a story).
Luke, I Am Your Father: Captain Fray is Smudge's uncle who either went crazy or got transformed by the dust of his comic collection, but few people remember or care about that. In a Star Wars parody, Fray says "I'm your father's brother!" to Smudge and throws his debut comic (Mônica Vol.1 #31, published in 1972) as proof. Years later Smudge seems to have forgotten about it, as Marina shows him that same comic and he gets shocked, quoting Darth Vader once again.
Referenced early in the Teen run (issue #4) by Denise, via Breaking the Fourth Wall to tell Angelo why Fray will not check the back issues to elaborate a counter-plan to their plan to rescue Franklin. She states that the incident got him traumatized.
There once was a story where Maggy went around trying to eat something and there was absolutely nothing. Not even in restaurants or street vendors - in fact, everything was deserted. It gets to a point where, at the end, she sees the world as a giant watermelon and dives mouth-first into it, leaving only a patch of land. Towards the end, cut to the studio, and Mauricio orders the story to be rewritten.
The Movie: Quite a few. "As Aventuras da Turma da Mônica" ("The Adventures of Monica's Gang", the first movie ever releasednote not counting a TV live-action adaptation/spoof of Romeo and Juliet and the movie where the aforementioned Crowning Moment of Heartwarming scene with the mice came from) and "A Princesa e o Robô" ("The Princess and the Robot"), both from the Eighties, as well as the more recent Cinegibi (literally, "Comic Book Movie") series (currently with four movies), and one about Time Travel that got released in theaters are noteworthy mentions.
Mugging the Monster: In some occasions, some people who doesn't know Monica's Super Strength (usually criminals or bullies from another neighborhood) find out the hard way it's a big mistake to threaten her or insult her.
No Fourth Wall: Characters frequently mention panels, the writing staff, the reader, and lampshade facts such as the barefoot characters not having toes.
One amusing 3 letter panel had Jimmy and Smudge running away from Monica only for Jimmy to smile and suddenly stop after seeing the "End" graphic at the corner... of the second panel. The third panel shows a beat up Smudge berating whoever made that mistake.
Also, one Chuck Billy story had him racing Zeke in many occasions, with Zeke always failing to beat Chuck. Then, at the last page, Zeke proposes to see who could get to the end of the story faster. After Chuck zips out of the panel, Zeke simply pulls a pencil out from his pocket and writes "END" at the corner of the frame he's in. Only half a page later, Chuck is still running, and looks up and sees how Zeke managed to fool him.
Not Allowed to Grow Up: Used and lampshaded. The main cast is always six, nevermind the fact the series has been running for over 40 years. Every year there's a special edition featuring one of the main characters' 7th birthday. However, they always return to being six years old again. In a recent example, someone asks Jimmy how old he's turning. "Seven," he replies, "just like evewy other year."
At least, we know when to expect birthday stories for the main characters: Monica's in March 21, Jimmy's in October 24, Smudge's in November, (date not certain; it's only known that he's a Sagittarius), Maggy's in May 8note both Monica and Maggy share their birthdays with Mauricio's namesake daughters and Chuck Billy's in July 1st.
In one of the late-2009 issues, it is implied that all of the birthday stories are actually about THE ONE AND ONLY BIRTHDAY PARTY they will ever experience - the 7th birthday party. This means, for example, that every Jimmy's birthday-themed story reveals one of the events that happened in his 7th birthday party. Again, the main character of this story is... Jimmy Five.
The Sliding Timescale is alluded to in a recent special issue released by the time of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in which Maggy's mother was stated to be pregnant of her in 2002, while Monica and Jimmy appear as babies in 2006 (complete with rewriting the infamous Zidane headbutt into one of her first bunny-bashings gone wrong: she tried to hit Jimmy, but the bunny slipped off her hand all the way to Berlin) which, considering they're all about the same age, would be quite inaccurate (they'd have to be three to four years old by the latter point).
Only Six Faces: Lampshaded. The series often jokes about this with characters commenting about "how they can't tell each other apart when they're bald because everyone looks alike". Most of the child characters have the same facial features (the only tell-tale difference being nose shapes aside from other facial nuances - like the dirt strokes on Smudge's cheeks) and the differences between their body types are subtle.
This was even lampshaded by Sunny in one story: "That's the good thing on Mauricio's characters all having the same face... No one can tell them apart!" (as Jimmy was wearing a bushy blonde wig to look like Sunny, who wanted to sneak out of his room despite being bedridden)
Panty Shot: Happens alot, especially in the animated versions. Doesn't help that the dresses the girls wear have short hemline (in fact, in Monica and Maggy's cases, they look like T-shirts that go just below the waist).
Parody Names: Played oh so very straight. More often than not, a celebrity or licensed character/series makes a cameo in the strips, but their names are slightly changed to something that creates a pun and is close enough to the original to avoid copyright infringement. Examples include: Pokemão instead of Pokemon, Darti Vesgo instead of Darth Vader, Superomão instead of Superman, Ton Cruzes instead of Tom Cruise... However, the jokes make more sense and are funnier in Portuguese. This, invariably, sometimes ends up leading to Bland-Name Product and Lawyer-Friendly Cameo.
Post Modernism: The lack of Fourth Wall leads to this. The original Marina story had the real Marina (Maurício's homonymous daughter) invading the comic, only for dad to reveal at the end of the story that he created a character based on her.note furthering the Mind Screw: since Franklin's Unrequited Love for Marina was at first sight, he originally fell in love with the real one!
Rolling Pin of Doom: There was a Romeo and Juliet parody featuring Jimmy Five as Romeo and Monica as Juliet. Friar Smudge told Romeo Jimmy the marriage would be so Monicapulet would stop hitting them with that bunny. Jimmy was interested until Smudge showed a rolling pin and told Jimmy that's what wives hit their husbands with.
Room 101: The prospect of getting wet is this for Smudge.
Serious Business: Monica's stuffed rabbit for a lot of the boys in the block (mostly Jimmy Five and Smudge). The plans to try and steal it away from her have included time traveling.
Also, Monica's self-given title of "ruler of the street", which sometimes ends up giving her a control freak behavior.
The title is one the boys gave to her, not one she made herself. She just won't let it go out of spite.
Ship Tease: Since, aside from Monica and Jimmy, there is another boy and another girl completing the leading cast, many readers try pairing Smudge and Maggy together (and some alternate future stories even have them as a pair), despite them already having a girlfriend and a boyfriend, respectively.
Shout-Out: Many, especially in late years, when Smudge became a diehard StarWarp fan, among other things.
Split Personality: Blu is the only character who appears in two different kind of stories; in one he is a normal dog, and in the other he is a director/actor of comics, is totally personified (walking by two feet behind the sets, and walking like a normal dog when acting) and is famous for the strips in which he talks to objects. No, really. And the objects talk back.
The most prominent object is Ms. Rock. Yes... A female rock.note Mostly due to the fact that Portuguese doesn't have a neutral gender, so rocks are feminine. But yeah.
Super Strength: Monica, sometimes to hilarious extents (in one single-page comic she literally blew the world away from her with a sneeze). Maybe that's why the bunny bashings hurt so much.
In the early issues, it was revealed that she used to keep a brick inside Samson. Nowadays she really possesses super-human strenght, and her mother revealed that some of her family members also have the power.
Tagalong Kid: Junior, and ocasionally Jimmy Five's little sister.
Time Machine: Franklin builds so many of them that many times characters lampshade how it's basically the only thing he does (Smudge makes fun of it in this episode). In fact, one of these is what triggers the events of the aforementioned Time Travel movie.
Token Minority: Let's see... Jeremiah is the standard "token black boy", but there's also Doreen (blind girl), Luca (boy in a wheelchair), Hummer (who was initially only mute, but was retconned as deaf as well) and some others..
However, take in mind: Brazil is a highly syncretic country where prejudice is not tolerated. So some comics incentivate social inclusion of some groups. The stereotypical depictions, common in works of other countries, are averted here, excluding of course Antonio Alfacinha and his father: they are Portuguese, have a thick accent, love cod and the elder one works in a bakery.
Totally Radical: Some of their slangs sound dated to modern-day speakers - which is a mortal sin when you have a parallel "Teen" imprint.
Trademark Favorite Food: Everything for Maggy, but watermelon takes the cake. It's completely normal to see her gobbling an entire one down.
Also, lettuce for Horacio.
Tsundere: Monica is Type A; she may beat Jimmy Five (and Smudge) up in most of the comics, but they are also good friends, and in some stories set in the future, they are married with children (not to mention them becoming a full-fledged Official Couple in the Teen Gang imprint).
Tuckerization: Considering most characters are based on people Mauricio knew, common. Maggy, Monica, Nimbus (Mauro in real life), Nick Nope (also called Maurício in real life) and Marina are his children (also Jimmy Five's baby sister, Mary Angela, whose English version name matches her real life one), Smudge and Jimmy Five are childhood friends, Chuck Billy and Zeke were brothers of his grandma (he didn't know them, but the grandma always told stories), Tina is a school acquaintance and Horacio, a childhood friend who became a teacher.
Violence is the Only Option: Monica, particularly in the newspaper comics, where it's easy to make quick joke with either a beating or threatening to do so.
What the Hell, Hero?: As much of a Nice GirlTsundere that Monica is, she can sometimes be really bossy and irrational and when she wants to do something, she's not above using violence to convince the boys to do as she wants when they're minding their own business.note E.G:Forcing Smudge and Jimmy to celebrate the "National Poetry Day" (which is 14th March in Brazil) while Smudge was minding his own business and Jimmy wanted to watch a soccer game on tv when it wasn't even 14th March, just because she felt like it. And when Franklin told then when the actual Poetry Day was, Smudge and Jimmy walk away pissed off at Monica and the story ends when her turning to Franklin saying "See what you did?" and she beats Franklin afterwards.. Granted, Jimmy does call her out on this in the Manga.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Regarding Monica's actions described above, there's the "Threaten your friends with violence or boss them around so they do what you want, and beat them up if things don't go your way" message.
When I Was Your Age: Jimmy Five's father once told Jimmy that, with Jimmy's allowances, he once bought stuff for home. Jimmy then asked how his parents did to live off ice cream and sweets.
Whole Plot Reference: Occurs sometimes - the Star Wars and Batman Forever parodies mentioned above, a Romeo and Juliet retelling (in which Monica disagrees with Shakespeare's ending and forces the Prince of Verona - Sunny - to give them a happy one)... - with a recent series even compilating old ones and creating a few new ones.
There's a special book titled "Movie Classics", which comes out every two months in parallel with the other titles, featuring reprints of stories done before (like their take on the original Jurassic Park), compilations on a common film theme (like comedy movies or Spider-Man-related stories) or completely original stories (like those based on The Terminator, Back to the Future or Avatar, which is the source of the Reference Overdosed image). One of the latter has a heck of an Adaptation Distillation to the entirety of Batman's cinema career, except for the aforementioned Batman Forever, which had been done before (and reprinted in an earlier issue) - the plot just skips from Batman Returns to Batman & Robin, and later includes the 1966 movie as well!
And then there's the aforementioned Death Note parody issue on the Teen Monica manga...
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Smudge to water. And not large bodies of water, like in having Super Drowning Skills; even a glass of water can make him shiver. Many times the writers have invented wild ways to avoid him from getting wet, like having him flap his arms like wings to escape from lakes. Also, while his teen version has shown to get over his fear to a certain degree, he is still not very fond of the idea of bathingnote Brazil is a tropical country, where it's customary to shower/bathe two to three times a day. Smudge only showers once a day..
Also Monica, while being superstrong and brave, has her own girly fears (like pretty much every other girl in the gang): she will shriek and cower at the sight of any mouse, bug, worm or what have you. Needless to say, Jimmy had used it to his advantage more than once.
Alternate Universe: While the manga itself is considered one to the kids' gang (even according to Word of God), its issue #36 adds in another AU, a Crapsack World in which Jimmy, who didn't care about getting better from his speech impediment, does indeed rule the street by being a gigantic asshole to everybody, asserting his authority through threats of exposing their secrets. Even the teachers at the school don't get any respect from him. He only grows out of it when the rest of the gang decides to not care about the blackmail and come clean with each other, thus breaking the hold he had over them. Plus, when Smudge's uncle (a powerless, Corrupt Corporate Executive version of Captain Fray) tried to get a hold of Franklin's world domination machine, built at Jimmy's behest, he was sent to an uninhabited planet because, since it was built in such a hurry, there was nothing in it to specify which world the user wanted to rule. Seeing it could have happened to him, Jimmy loses his jerkiness. The reason for all this? Monica had moved away from the neighborhood while they were still children, essentially leaving a vacuum in her friends' lives. When she came back all grown up, no one recognized her.
Other differences in this AU: Maggy didn't learn to put her appetite in check, so she grew fat; Bucky is shy and insecure, while Sunny is more outgoing and confident; Franklin is a nebbish geek who can't find it in him to approach Marina; Nutty Ned is still a teacher, but has a lot more composure (despite being apparently aware of the AU), and he's the target of Maggy's juvenile crush; Nimbus is a failure at magic; and Sunny's sister didn't make the cut for the space program, working at a fast food joint instead.
Art Evolution: Compare the covers of the manga version to the inside. Has gotten more consistent lately, but the difference is still pretty glaring.
Canon Foreigner: Several minor characters, including the Hot Teacher whom Maggy has a crush on and the weight-conscious Maria Mello.
Chickification: Maggy in the manga, as if she wasn't enough of a chick.
Cross Over: Issues #43 and #44 cross the characters over with many Osamu Tezuka characters. Mauricio and Tezuka had been close friends when the latter was alive, and the idea had been in the works for quite some time, even before Tezuka's passing.
Fanservice In the first issue of his teen spinoff, Chuck Billy spends three gratuitous panels shirtless after jumping into a creek to escape a swarm of bees.
It's All About Me: Bucky and Jim are prime examples, but Monica really stands out. To name one instance, when Jim was late to a rehearsal with her for the school play because he was busy with a school project whose deadline was the day afterwards and he needed to hand out a part of his projects at the same day of the rehearsal, Monica says that what he did was thinking only of himself. Because being a good student is absolutely selfish, isn't it?
Jerkass: Bucky, though even in that continuity Jimmy still has his momentsnote Case in point: issue #47, where the gang travels to Japan. Jimmy behaves like a total tool, complaining all the time and voluntarily getting himself lost because he was tired of being told what to do..
Although they pale in comparison to Toni. To put in perspective, Neither Bucky nor Jim ever plotted to crush Monica's heart for a decade just because they got beaten up by her and made fun of by it.
Outgambitted: In issue #35, Jim somehow managed to outgambit himself, by creating another persona to attend to a costume party held by 3 rich people (One of them being Carmen's aunt), so he could spend a romantic night with Monica without needing to defeat her first. Naturally this creates a 5th competition for Monica's affections. May double as a case of Love Makes You Dumb. However, said persona is never brought up again.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: Monica can sometimes act like a self-centered harpy in a way that Bella would never achieve to be, and a bully on top of that, as her treatment of Irene and Sofia shows, and she never accepts anyone disagreeing with her. ever. But she somehow ends up always being in the right, not being called out on any of her bad deeds or getting away with it with nothing but a slap-on-the-wrist.
Serious Business: Smudge with his hobbies, Monica with the school play that took place on Issue #9.
Shout-Out: Manga Issue#35 had a lot of them. A costume party with the characthers dressed as many famous figures such as: Franklin as Sherlock Holmes, Sunny as Kratos, Todd as Mario, Marina as Dorothy from Oz, Jeremiah as Mace Windu, Tikara as Samurai Jack, Denise as Harley Quinn and many others.
There was also a two-issue story that was entirely a shoutout to Death Note.
The "Id Monsters" saga is about the main quartet facing their dark side and once they're overcome, they're trapped within cards that gives them powers when activated. Does that sound familiar?
Spinoff Babies: In reverse, and throughly denied by die-hard fans who claim the series is ruined, despite them obviously not being the intended demographic and the original series still be going on.
Took a Level in Badass: Jimmy Five- ahem, Jim - grows some backbone in the Manga and starts to call out Monica on her violent tendencies and bossy attitude.
Exhibit A: Issues #23 and #24, which is a Whole Plot Reference to Death Note, but replacing "Death" with "Laughter", with Jimmy himself as the story's "Kira" ("The Great Clown" here). At one scene, when everyone is their school is discussing the Clown's identity, Smudge says that because Monica is so hotheaded, she would be a potential target for the Clown. And then this follows:
Monica: Is that true, Jim? You really think I deserve a laughing attack?
Jim: You know what, Monica? Smiling wouldn't kill you! It's a pain in the ass to put up with someone who is always stressed! You may feel comfortable with that big temper of yours...but we're the ones who suffer to put up with your fretfulness!
Jim: And I'll tell you more: If that Clown actually exists, I bet you are on his list!
Exhibit B: Issue #26, where two brothers who are professional rollerbladers,note Carmen's cousins, no less are bullying everyone around their city and acting like colossalpricks. Monica, getting fed up with their attitude, challenges them to a rollerblading contest, dragging Maggy, Smudge and Jim into it, without asking them about it in the first place. None of them, of course, knows how to skate. At some point, Jim falls again trying to skate and Monica starts yelling at him.
Monica: That won't do it! That won't do it! You don't have a drop of effort, Jim!
Jim: Hey, that's not like it. I'm doing my best!
Maggy: Both of you are trying hard and...
Monica:Yeah, right! It looks like you're goofing off on me! How am I supposed to know if I can count on you for the contest?
Jim: Count on me? Count on me?! COUNT ON ME?! So you want to know if you can count on me? I NEVER said I knew how to skate! I DON'T! And still, I'M HERE! WEARING THIS STUPID OUTFIT! SCRAPING MY BUTT ON THE FLOOR! AND ALL BECAUSE SOMEONE MADE A ROLLERBLADING CHALLENGE, WHEN SAID PERSON DOESN'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO SKATE! AND STILL, SHE GOT HER FRIENDS ON A STUPID CONTEST! WITHOUT EVEN ASKING THEM! AND NOW YOU WANNA KNOW IF YOU CAN COUNT ON ME?
Captain Fray in the manga. He becomes quite The Chessmaster in the latest issue he appeared, and his powers have evolved, making him able to cause erosion.
Todd, who grew some major cajones not only as he grew up, but as the manga itself progressed. Unlike most of the male cast (save for minor exceptions, such as Nick Nope), Todd takes none of the girls' Double Standard bullcrap, often pointing out that he doesn't take well to Maggy's crush on the science teacher and yet getting fussy when he looks at other girls with the faintest hint of interest. There's also the way he handled his bullying in recent issues, with no need whatsoever to get violent, and still coming out on top. Todd may as well be the biggest Badass in the series at this point.
Will They or Won't They?: There is also some argument as to Monica and Jimmy's relationship over this (pretty much since they are the only main characters without any kind of engagement). While, as kids, they never get together due to him not seeing her as more than just a friend (and, in the worst-case scenarios, he deems her too ugly to be date-able - she had made advances on him before), as teenagers, they go one step further, even though he is still too shy to admit it once and for all. So much so, that in one issue, it's Monica who takes it upon herself to have the initiative, by stealing a kiss from Jim. Though he runs away flustered (with her chasing him, "just like the old times"), one can see that deep down he liked it.
And he finally retributes the favor in issue #22.
They're not exactly official yet. That might change in the upcoming issue #34.
They did, but broke up in the end of issue #34. So they're back to square one.