Headscratchers / Questionable Content

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    Not-That-Alternate Universe 
  • It amuses me how nobody's mentioned the little talking sentient AI robots yet.
    • That's because there's an explanation for that provided by Jeph. The world of QC isn't the same as our world. As he said, "You think that'd be obvious with the little robot computers running around, but..."
    • Given the little 'bots seem to be the only regular use of super science it sort of seems like Reed Richards Is Useless.
    • The only one that we see, because the story is about the Marten & co. Perhaps the power stations run on cold fusion and there are colonies on Mars. That doesn't impact the characters' day-to-day lives; the lights work when you switch them on, however they're powered.
    • Uh, robots are used for other purposes. Hannelore's dad lives on a space station (where she was raised), there are robot TRUCKS, a sufficiently human body has been created, and that's just top of my head.
    • I seem to recall Hanners saying "I will move to the moon" at one point in response to somebody's creepy joke or something. We assume she is using a hyperbole, but maybe there really are colonies on the moon! It's like saying she'll move to China, it's silly but still possible.
    • Hanner's also made a comment in one of the strips how her father neglecting her was a reasonable price for bringing cancer-killing nanobots into the world, so it's safe to assume that the QC world is rather advanced. Mostly due to Hanner's dad.
    • Wait, it's an Alternate Universe? I always figured it was just set 20 Minutes into the Future.
    • Given the very contemporary band references, not possible.
    • According to in-comic information the only person doing Alternate Universe science is Hanner's dad, hence the only reason we see anything science-y it's in small amounts. Yes they have bionic robot arms, Anthro PC's, lasars and things but only those things he bothered to make because they were awesome. In the most recent storyline we've encountered a space plane. Surely if space planes were commonplace or known very well the reactions everyone has had towards the space plane would've been different.... No. this was their first time seeing a plane that could fly into space. Clearly this means that all the cool science is being done by this one man and everyone just sorta follows.
    • This also explains why nearly all the super-science is things like sentient AI, space stations, and robot hamsters—it's the kind of thing Hannelore's dad is interested in.

    Couch Condoms 

  • Wait, Toto wrote songs other then Africa?
    • ...yes?
    • ... since when?!?
    • Well...
    • In all seriousness, it's a bit silly to use "Africa" in that scene, given it's far and away Toto's biggest hit. "You like this band's biggest hit?!? ME TOO!"
    • Well remember these are music geeks saying that if it was just regular people then yeah it'd be kind of stupid but it can be assumed that they have heard a decent number of Toto songs that are not Africa

    Marigold's Finances 

  • How can Marigold afford a Wo W account?
    • She doesn't have a job or visible means of support.
    • She could have some kind of online employment.
    • It's actually mentioned in some of the initial "Marigold visits Co D" comics that she's the webmaster for her dad's website. Not much other detail is given, but assuming that her dad has a popular/lucrative website it's not unreasonable to believe that he'd be able to pay her a living wage without it being nepotism or her leeching off of him.
    • Also, a couple of times it was mentioned she does other freelance website work.
    • It's also possible to make real-world money off of World of Warcraft, if you play it right. Another thing to keep in mind is that, even with her shabby personal hygiene and near-indifference to her own health, a Wo W subscription would probably be only a fraction of Marigold's total living expenses.
    • Marigold has given her Wo W name as "Mari Gold Farmer" which would seem to support that hypothesis....

    Unique Names 

  • Are the unique names part of the Alternate Universe thing? The names of characters are far from common: Hannelore, Sven, Marigold, Angus, Penelope, Wil (with one L)...we might even be able to count Dora, since that's antiquated enough. Marten and Faye are the closest to "normal" names out of the main characters, as is Steve, although his appearances are not nearly as frequent as they used to be. What are the chances that so many uniquely-named people would cross paths and become a cohort of friends in our universe?
    • Dora, Penelope, Sven, and Angus all sound more "normal" than "Faye" to me, and Wil with one L is less strange than Marten with an E.
    • I always thought Wil was a shortening of something, like Wilhelm or something. Eh. Also, Angus is a pretty popular name, as are Dora, Penelope, and Marigold (though the last two might be a little old-fashioned). Sven is a pretty reasonable name, if not necessarily for someone of Italian descent. Also, he was born in the U.S. (and so, probably, were his parents) so that's not really a factor.
    • Sven's family is also of Swedish descent, making his name a lot more logical.
    • That part's even stated outright in the comic: Mom Bianchi is of Swedish descent and stated that since she was pregnant and had to go through childbirth, she got to decide the name, and Dad Bianchi didn't contest it.
    • In our universe we have people named stuff like Willow, Parker, Jazzmin, and Stefani. I really don't see the problem with Penelope or Sven.
    • What's wrong with the name Wil?
    • Hannelore's parents (especially her father) are weird. Hardly surprising that she got an unconventional name, especially given that her father would more than likely have named her.
  • This may be jossed: As well as Claire, the intern in the library, there's also Claire the witch here.

    Hannelor's dad and his AI 

  • Two things:
    1. Why would Hannelore's dad's name be Ellicott-Chatham at all? I'm not entirely familiar with the American legal system, but from what I know it's the wife who adopts her husband's surname. If he's John Ellicott, then his wife would be either Mrs. Ellicott or Mrs. Chatham-Ellicott. If there's something that says you can hyphenate it however the hell you want it, that'd answer the question.
    2. Why does an AI even have shares in a company, let alone over half a billion dollars?
    • Two answers:
    1. From what I've heard, the married couple may choose who takes whose name.
    • To expand on this, the wife taking her husband's last name is a standard social convention, but it's not a legal requirement in any American jurisdiction. Also, in most American jurisdictions, even a single person can go by any name they want, as long as they're not doing it for fraudulant purposes.
    • Different troper here, just wanted to give a personal example. I'm American, and both my parents kept their last names upon marrying, then decided to give me a hyphenated last name (with my mother's surname coming before my father's; it's often the other way around). Then they up and decided to give my little sister my mother's surname only. So yeah, you can pretty much do whatever you want, I'm just so used to it I never even realized other people might be confused by it. Maybe Jacques thought the same way when he named the characters?
    • Considering that Hannelore's father seems to be more than a little scatterbrained or silly at times, it's understandable that he'd have trouble figuring out what was what. Or he just wouldn't care to figure it out when there is science to be done.
    • He flat out confirms that he doesn't know what his own name is and has been confused since the divorce. It is possible that they both double-barreled their names whilst married and upon their divorce, Hannelore's mother (the savvy woman with a huge interest in her public appearance) instantly reverted to her maiden name whilst her father (intelligent but not worldly and not at all interested in what other people think of him) never bothered to update all the forms and so was still officially Ellicot-Chatham. It probably never occured to him to ever change his name (he has cancer fighting nano-bots to build!) and his wife will have organised it the first time (she is the type to get an idea and have the world re-organised over breakfast) and she wouldn't have cared in the end. Hannelore herself, of course, will have kept the name because she doesn't want to upset either parent.
    1. AI have been granted civil rights long before this scene happens. A whole strip was dedicated to making this clear. As for why he'd want them, presumably for some of the same reasons as why a human would want them.
    2. As for Station owning shares in the company? What if he had to bribe someone who took over the place or something?
    • Or it's part of a ploy to keep Station in line. According to my calculations, based the numbers in strip 2119, Station holds over 600 million dollars of EC-Tech stock. Since Station is linked into everything and could vent the station to space with a thought if he thinks "Meh, my boss sucks", the station staff have every reason to keep it happy. By making sure Station has a financial stake in keeping the station running, EC-Tech has neatly avoided any issues of the robots taking over. If Station tries any funny business, its stock plummets. Of course, what Station actually does with the money is anyone's guess...
    • Momo getting a 'real' job in order to pay for her own brand new chassis is the first time we see a regular character AI getting money. But it seems like it's pretty normal for AIs to have their own money and financial control over it. Pintsize buys stuff all the time (heirloom knives, various costume props, condoms) and Marten's reaction is usually surprise at the strangeness of the items and not anger that his credit card has been stolen (Pintsize is still producing new props when Marten is unemployed, whilst we don't know if he bought it then or earlier it suggests that he has his own funds). Then, as more AI characters are introduced it appears that NOT having a job and your own money is the strange thing.
    • there is a whole issue here, regarding the actual FUNCTION of AIs generally. If an AI has sentience and civil rights, and can manifest in almost any physical form, who or what performs the various functions they were originally (presumably) created for? Why would anyone WANT a sentient assembly arm (Jeremy)?
    • Simplest answer to #1, Hannelore's father was named Ellicot-Chatham at birth, and passed the whole name to Hannelore. He married a Chatham; let's hope they weren't too closely related.
    • My guess: They hyphenated their names when they married. When they split up, she reverted to her original name, while he kept the hyphenated form.

    Hannelore's medication 

  • Why did Dr. Corrine take Hannelore off whatever she was on back in the 500s? She seemed to be doing a lot better!
    • I have three possibilities:
    1. The meds were causing weird side effects that we (the readers) weren't shown. Hannelore was taken off them for her own health.
    2. Hannelore was (seemingly) capable of handling herself fine, rendering the meds unnecessary. Perhaps Dr. Corrine figured she'd been on them long enough.
    3. Hannelore asked to be taken off the meds. I just got off some heavy-duty anti-anxiety stuff myself, and the reasons is that I wanted to try living without what I felt to be some kind of crutch. Or Hanners just didn't like some of the things she wound up doing while medicated.
    • "Doing a lot better" is kind of up for debate. Compared to what we know of her now, she was actually acting pretty out-of-character back then. She might have been handling the OCD better, but if it led to her having wild personality changes, that's not necessarily a good thing.
    • Hannelore was stalking her neighbors and making poor/dangerous choices such as smoking. Doesn't sound like a good outcome to me.
      • To elaborate: She'd been stalking Marten and Faye for some time, and the reason she actually met Marten is because she was smoking in the bar bathroom after being up for four days counting the hairs on her head. Even if those meds were helping her anxiety the effects were...uneven, at best.


  • Does Jeph not know what "slash fic" means? Because there are a couple points in the comics where characters seem to use it to refer to straight pairings.
    • Slash used to mean any sexual pairing regardless of gender, however it has evolved to mean two guys.
    • I think it's the other way around. It started off meaning two guys, as in the ur-example Kirk/Spock, but has evolved to mean any pairing.
    • Slash originally meant unconventional (particularly non-canon) pairings, the sort of thing that nowadays would be called a Crack Pairing. The use of it to refer to homosexual pairings in particular has shifted the meaning in that direction, but there are still people who use it to refer to crack pairs regardless of gender-combination.


  • Read this strip and then explain why the word "hump" has been underlined. Is it a replacement of some other word that used to be there? And does anyone remember what the old word was, if that's the case?
    • I think it was ravish. Last I remember it was.
    • Actually, it was "rape" originally. Apparently Jeph realized the Unfortunate Implications of saying that being raped by a woman is "the fantasy of every shy, submissive boy on the planet."

    Dora and Tai and Awkwardness 

  • What was up with this moment of awkwardness? I mean, he got Dora to babysit his kid when he went on a date with another lady, it's not like he's hung up on her, he shouldn't get all exasperated and need "tacos and beer" when he finds out Dora's got a ladyfriend. And why does Dora feel the need to run out and explain in the next strip, for the same reason? I can't find the strip where she hears he's dating someone, but I don't seem to recall her being all that upset about it. It really seems like it should be a non-issue.
    • The reason she gave him for not wanting to enter a relationship was that she was struggling with emotional issues (i.e., the ones that led to her breakup with Marten) and that she shouldn't be dating anyone at all at that time. I was under the impression that he was a bit miffed to see her with someone so soon after she had told him that, and seemed to be okay with it once he got past the initial shock.
    • I recall that, but I thought that was a long while ago. I guess in-comic time has not progressed very much since then?
    • I thought it may have also been the fact that it was a girl. He's not homophobic, but she rejected him, and then ended up with a girl.
    • I can speak from experience to say that this happens. If you see a woman a few times, there is that chemistry, and they claim to want to wait due to personal issues, and turn a round and start seeing g someone else... Well, it's a bummer. Makes you feel inadequate, or something. Now I need a beer.
    • Also, in a "been there, done that" sense, knowing something and seeing something are two very different things. At this point, Dora is in what appears to be a successful relationship, and he is still single; that's gonna sting a little bit.

    Hannelore's period 

  • If Hannelore's OCD is so bad, how does she deal with having her period? I seem to recall this being mentioned at some point in the strip, but I can't remember what the answer was (if there is one) nor can I find the strip in question.
    • The answer was "we don't talk about that day." Plus she's on the birth control pill, which can help reduce the number of periods.
    • More importantly, birth-control pills regulate when your period happens. No surprises and plenty of time to prepare for it.

    Dale's schedule 

  • Is Dale working four different jobs in the same day? How could he possibly have time for that?
    • I- you know, I have no clue. Maybe he has something special worked out with his bosses to give him four or less hours for each job. Maybe he's a temp guy until the normal guy comes in to work.
    • In some cities, it's perfectly common for each shift to be only four hours, with more being the exception rather than the rule. If all his jobs are in the same shopping center (or otherwise nearby), that would help too.
    • It could also help that the scheduled days are done differently; like he works at coffee of doom three days a week and then works dish-washing jobs late at night, stuff like that. He works multiple swingshifts.
    • The scheduling thing is probably a large part of the reason he's got AR glasses that we very rarely see turned off. To keep a copy of his calendar up at all times so he knows when the hell he's working where.

    Beer Sledding 

  • The Speedbeer storyline. Where did they get the trays?
    • Marten works at a college campus. They probably raided the cafeteria.
    • Plus, half the cast run or work in hospitality businesses. If they didn't have a stock of their own, they'd know where to beg, buy or borrow some.


  • I get that the AIs don't want to feared but why did the activists get AI soldiers banned? How is taking away rights from AIs at all helpful? That makes as much sense as LGBT activists getting the military to reenact Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It seems like the AI activist are taking two steps forward, one step back with their legislation. This is especially confusing to me because it denies several AIs their rights to choose their own career path AND this doesn't seem to exclude non-combative AIs.
    • Besides the simple 'They didn't ask the AIs"...they presumably thought of it as AIs being put in military 'slavery', especially AIs who got combat bodies and had to pay for them, or AIs 'made' for combat. The idea of an AI choosing to become a soldier was foreign to them. Civil rights activists are anti-military? Who knew?!
    • there is no mention anywhere, of AIs paying for work-related bodies. One of the AIs was an ATM, one was a forklift truck, I doubt they paid for those bodies. Bubbles has never mentioned paying for HER body, and Pintsize’s “military chassis” appears to have been “surplus”. We don’t know anything about the status of the shop AIs at Idoru; Iris knows about the cost/benefit structure, but that’s part of her job. I don’t doubt that an AI COULD, if they saw fit, buy a body for the purpose of some business venture, but that’s nothing new.

    I've had a bad time, you must obey! 

  • This is something alot of people porbably wonder, but why? why? WHY do people put up with Faye at all? I mean all the shit she does can only be excused for so long, and even then theres pushing your' luck, in fact, the same argument could be applied for Dora but she doesn't have the "excuse" Faye has. personally those two are toxic trainwrecks, but Faye in particular irks me, like when she was with Angus and he had an awesoome super day, getting his dream job and being cool with trying out a LDR (though he made it there and back inside a day so "the city" can't be that far) and she has been supportive up front, but doubtful in the head, then when he breaks the news that "YAY i got my dream job, she RUINS it, by going "see how i was cool with it, I actually super wasn't cool with it, so we are done" basically completely shattering what was probably one of that guys happiest days ever, then she has the utter gall to go get hammered like he did the dumping, why would anyone even want to be near her?
    • This is actually why a lot of alcoholics end up alone; you become stone-ass jerk to hide you own insecurities, depression, et cetera. If you pay attention, you see that Faye doesn't actually have a lot of friends outside of Dora, Hanners and Marten. Essentially, there are some people, often somewhat damaged themselves, who can see the real person behind the facade.
    • Faye is an alcoholic, and Dora has depression — both conditions that lead to things like selfish, "it's all about me and my feelings" behavior. In fact, one of the big signs of depression is an extreme self-focus and obsession about ones' own problems over those of others. This doesn't make their behavior any better, but at least explains some of it. Both girls end up losing relationships because of these issues, as happens to many people in real life (Jeph, for instance).
    • This is exactly why she gets hammered after breaking up with Angus. Remember, her reason for not dating Marten was her inability to rationally deal with the possibility, however remote, of him abandoning her. She's doing better by the time she starts dating Angus, but the prospect of a long-distance relationship inflames those doubts, and she bails. So she's fully aware that her choice to break up with him was because of her own insecurities. It's her self-loathing about her self-sabotaging behavior that she's trying to escape by drinking.
    • OP here, my problem isn't with her symptoms (heavy drinking, depression) its her actions that bother me, early days she was downright threatening to people, regularly actually hitting marten for percived little petty problems, and her big excuse basically amounts to "my dad died and it ruined me" throughout most of the comic, as a sufferer of actual depression, if i pulled any of the crap she pulls, I would downright get my ass beaten or thrown in jail for abuse, which is what she done to marten early days, just marten is too much of spinless git for most of it to actually d anything, and when you are in a group of self centered knobends, nobody notices.

    Momo flipping off Angus for rejecting Marigold 

  • This is something that's just bugged me ever since the comic was first posted. In this comic, Marigold tries to force herself on Angus, Angus tells her they're just friends, Marigold runs off crying, and Momo flips off Angus! So, it's okay if Marigold does it to Angus, but I presume not the other way around?
    • I think it's just a case of Momo being 100% on Marigold's side and therefore being angry at the guy who rejected and upset her, no matter his reason or intent. In the strips that follow, no other character says anything negative about Angus for turning her down, and there's a couple who specifically say that Angus did the right thing. So it's just one character with a considerable bias against the guy, not the whole strip upholding a double standard about men and women (in this case, at least). Angus is at least, being consistent; he didn’t lead her on, didn’t take advantage of her, and most characters recognise this.

    Tilly-Taffy’s pronouns 

  • the SJW on the Forum are going crazy about Tilly/Taffy’s use of pronouns. T/T, for reasons best known to that character, favours “they/their” which most people understand as a plural form. This doesn’t seem relevant in any way to the character’s narrative role, so far. Why doesn’t the character simply use “one”, which is a common usage in British English for non-gender-specific cases (“what might one do?”, for example).... seems to be another case of the Pandering to the Base which has become increasingly common...
    • The use of "they" as singular is increasing in popularity. (In part because it was accepted usage until relatively recently.) As to significance to the character's narrative role...yeah, it's non-existent, but that may have been the point. You don't always have to make a big deal out of non-binary characters, you know?

    who pays for the AI chassis? 

  • Momo’s replacement chassis was bought by Marigold, apparently for around the price of a car. Marigold clearly couldn’t afford this, from her reaction. Momo (who has no real economic function, in her present incarnation) claims to be paying Marigold back from her earnings as a librarian, but ALSO pays rent AND splurges her paychecks like a kid with pocket money..
  • May’s chassis is clearly pretty much at the end of its economic usefulness, but there are no funds to replace it
  • Bubbles appears to inhabit a military-surplus chassis which she has retained, presumably as some sort of GI Benefit. However Corpse Witch implies, and Bubbles appears to believe her, that the government could reclaim it at will. Droid-06 and Deathbot 9000 could be similar cases
  • Idoru, in some respects, appears to operate as a quasi-charity, exercising discretion over the allocation of AI to Anthro PC chassis
  • Jeremy and possibly, Seven and Punchbot appear to inhabit some sort of industrial cast-off chassis

     AI chassis construction 

  • AI chassis construction seems to vary wildly. Some, like Punchbot, have “tin can” style construction with rotating joints, gears etc. If Punchbot has any sort of wrapping or dermis, we haven’t seen it.
  • May clearly has numerous, visible external articulations (including some sort of race her shoulder runs on) indicating a semi-rigid outer casing, but her face and head seem to be composed of some sort of Mylar covering over synthetic muscle fibres. She also has no visible sexual characteristics - when she appears topless during the “face repair” arc, her “breasts” are just indicative shaping of her torso. Various “service” AIs (such as the Idoru staff) and secondary cast like Melon, appear to be similar.
  • Momo has a covering of some sort of Mylar, with a visible seam around her neck. No other joints are visible. She is implied to be “anatomically correct” but we haven’t seen any of this.
  • Bubbles wears a short-sleeved unitard which appears to be part of her dermis, not a garment. She occasionally has hip seams, but this isn’t consistently shown and her general movement and art style suggests that she has synthetic muscles over a skeletal armature. She has a “neck seam” which doesn’t coincide with her unitard neckline. Her generally statuesque design is considered erotic by some, but she does not appear to be “anatomically correct”.
  • higher-status AIs like Roko appear to be generally similar to Momo, but no details whether they are “anatomically correct”. Roko has been shown to have a three-toed foot armature with quasi musculature, wrapped in a dermal covering akin to a sock with no visible toes. Bubbles has similar details.