is a completed gay-themed furry comic book series by artist Vince Suzukawa
. A follow-up to his long-running webcomic The Class Menagerie
, it also follows the lives of characters at the fictional DeMontfort University. However, it is not a sequel; though i.s.o.
even takes place in the same dorm as the former series, it focuses on the residents of a different floor of the building. Likewise, while TCM
shows events through the eyes of several characters, i.s.o.
concerns itself primarily with a tiger named Cody Frost, a freshman at DeMontfort who struggles with his new relationships, his homosexuality, and his desire to be "normal."
The comic was published semi-annually; ten issues of the comic book have been published. The title is an acronym commonly used in personal ads, meaning "In Search Of". It also refers to the Greek prefix ἰσο- (iso-)
, meaning "equal" or "normal."
There is also a spin-off sort of thing (which may or may not be
canonical) written by Vince's fiance. Set after the events of ISO it's about Cody meeting his uncle and cousin from Russia for the first time. It's called From Russia With Lust
. Vince has no plans on seeing it published and since it's just something that Vince does when he has time to kill, it's the sort of comic that'll get done when it gets done. It's been several months since the last update.
This comic book provides examples of:
- Author Avatar: Cody Victor Frost. And Vince actually used Cody as his online avatar for some years, before Vince — who is much shorter, less massive and more Asian than Cody — switched to his more physically-realistic persona Kyle Takamoto.note
- Author Tract. The author essentially wrote in his own personality as Cody's.
- Babies Ever After: For Maureen and Thor
- Badass: Usually as a Rule of Sexy per Author Appeal.
- Back Story: A few of the characters have these.
- Cody's childhood with being closeted, including Todd as a childhood friend.
- Doug's history with family, men and money.
- Jeff's family dynamic from hell.
- Bait and Switch: An utterly delicious example (which is almost a Fake Out Ending) happens in the very last issue of the comic, where it appears that Straight Best Friend Todd has lost a bet via poker game and thus has to engage in a threesome with Cody and Jeff. Hardly any of the readers believed it was for real, despite the large number of fans with Perverse Sexual Lust who hoped Todd would turn out to be bi...but the dialogue was set up with so many Double Entendres that the whole thing began to feel scarily plausible. Of course, it turned out to be the Bengal had to go swing dancing. A definite Crowning Moment of Awesome and Crowning Moment of Funny for the author.
- Batman Gambit: Once Cody learns the full truth about Maureen, as well as Thor's intentions towards her, he comes up with a very clever plan—after the breakup with Doug, and with it no longer being an issue for him to avoid Jake and Zach any more, he decides to quit his job as a bouncer at the Hangout...and see if he can get Thor the job in his place, so he can then pay off his debt to the school, no longer feel like a golddigger, and propose to Maureen, which will get her off Jeff's back. It looks like, no matter how hard Thor tries, Sam will never forgive him, let alone give Tyrone permission to hire him. But then, thanks to the fire at the Hangout accidentally caused by Steve, Thor is in the right place at the right time to help save Doug's life, and Sam gives her blessing after all.
- Big Eater: Boris. Him always eating is also why he's The Voiceless.
- Bi the Way: Jake and Zach are both bisexual. Jake's Urban Legend Love Life includes men and women alike. Zach hooked up with Jake a few times, but ultimately fell for Jake's female cousin.
- Blind Without 'Em: Doug without his glasses.
- Brainless Beauty: Jake and Zach. One of Jake's most notable brainless moments came as early as his first appearance, where he shows Cody porn he's watching in his laptop, in a plane packed with people, where anyone could've noticed and things could've escalated into an awkward situation.
- Brutal Honesty: In From Russia With Lust. Cody's uncle Vladimir is gay and a horn-dog and doesn't beat around the bush when he sees a guy he's attracted to. When he first saw Todd he stopped Cody from calling him over, leading to this hilarious exchange:
Cody: What do you want with Todd?
Vlad: Am going to fuck him!
- Cain and Abel: Jeff is evading creepy stalking and surveillance, led by his estranged vindictive big sister Maureen.
- California University: Semi-fictional DeMontfort University.
- The Cameo: A few times. Writer Kyell Gold's character Volle as a bartender at the gay bar Shout Out-ingly named Kyell's.
- Celibate Hero: Self-repressed Cody.
- Character Development: Cody primarily.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Steve. What appeared to be a throwaway character (in Sinister Silhouettes no less) to explain Doug's poor taste in men ends up showing up again in issue 9 as an inadvertent villain, accidentally setting fire to the Hangout while doing drugs, and almost getting Doug himself killed. Not really enough to justify a Moral Event Horizon, but more than enough for the readers to truly enjoy his karmic fate.
- The Chew Toy: Cody's many comedic tortured moments.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Jake.
- Cliffhanger: Used extensively at the ends of issues, often with a heavy Mind Screw effect.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Jake somewhat, and to a lesser extent Zach.
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Zach, the one everyone, including Jake himself, thinks is dumb, turns out to have guessed right that Cody is hiding his new S.O. because he's gay and in the closet. Becomes Fridge Brilliance once it's revealed that Zach is not quite as dumb as he appears, and downright painful once Zach tells Jake that people assuming this about him and treating him like the slow, happy, tagalong sidekick is something he's "just gotten used to".
Zach: Hey, what if it's a dude, and he's just in the closet?
Jake: Zach, mai friend...leave th' thinkin' to me, alraight?
Zach: Yeah, good idea...
- Coming-Out Story: Cody.
- Cool Big Sis: Sam manages to be this for Doug.
- Dance Party Ending: Twice—first comes the celebration at the reopening of the Hangout, where a huge number of the cast reunite, and then at the very end Cody, Jeff, and Todd return to the 50's swing club with Sam's friends.
- Defeat Means Friendship: This seems to have become the case between Cody and Thor. Cody effectively defeated Thor by finding out unflattering secrets about him.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Cody and Jake in a chapter Cliff Hanger.
- Dramatic Irony: After learning about Maureen's Trophy Husband, Wendell, Thor decided to play up the testosterone so as to give her what he thought she wanted. Turns out she was actually looking for a family man, who would need to show a tender, caring side...which he could have shown to her via his love of plants if he wasn't also hiding that from the college authorities. And Maureen hates liars. Luckily, Cody has a plan...
- Drugs Are Bad: The Aesop of the arc with Steve, Doug's ex, although handled much better and less Anviliciously than most such examples.
- Dumb Blonde: Somewhat inverted by Jake.
- Dysfunction Junction: A recurring trope for some of the characters with detailed backgrounds.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Most of the male cast.
- Fanservice: Lots of it.
- Femme Fatale or The Vamp: Depends on whether Maureen turns out to be redeemable—turns out she is the Femme Fatale.
- Friendship Moment: Remarks that Todd had made, which were in essence true, hurt Cody deeply. From then on it seems their friendship is back on track and maybe even stronger than before since all lies and secrets were revealed during a one-on-one talk in issue three.
- Funny Background Event: A number of these, but one of the funniest is Ty falling off his perch when Cody seemingly proposes a threesome between himself, Doug, and Steve.
- Furry Comic: All of the characters are anthropomorphic animals, and the author is a member of the Furry Fandom, so...yeah.
- Gay Best Friend: Inverted; Todd, who is straight, is Cody's best friend.
- Gender Equals Breed: Done Word of God intentionally as a rule of genetics in the story.
- Gentle Giant: Doug.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: First in issue 7, when debating whether to come out to Jake, and then again in issue 8 when debating whether to break up with Doug, Cody gets a visit from this pair. Notable for reversing the shoulder position, as well as for the angel and devil not only getting into a heated argument but literally jumping into the ring together. (By the way, Angel Cody wins.) A Rule of Funny moment, but it may also be a nod to the original notion (see the trope page) of a person's personified virtues and vices having a Battle in the Center of the Mind for control of his or her soul. Also notable for a number of fans finding Devil Cody hot, as well as shipping the two with each other—a notion the author teased fans with on the back cover of issue 8.
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Subverted when Jake shows Cody a male/female sex picture and gay Cody is horrified.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Thor. This is especially revealed during his talk with Cody in the greenhouse.
- Hot Men At Work: Many characters.
- Cody as a bouncer.
- Doug as a waiter.
- Jeff as a handyman.
- Thor as a groundskeeper.
- Tyrone as a bartender.
- Volle as a bartender.
- Husky Russkie: Vladimir (bonus points for the name) and Georgiy in From Russia With Lust. Georgiy doesn't work out at all but he's still bigger and stronger than Cody. Vladimir is able to easily lift him and the chair he's sitting in several feet off the floor. They both speak broken English, but it's hinted that Vlad's is just an act.
- Hypocritical Humor: "All I'm sayin', is open communication is the best way to sort out your problems. Take it from someone who knows." Spoken by Boris.
- I Have No Son: Doug's parents kicked him out as a teenager for being gay.
- I Have to Wash My Hair: When Cody is trying to work up the nerve to ask his crush, Gentle Giant Doug, out on a date, his Imagine Spot comes up with various reasons why Doug might turn him down. This excuse is one of them.
- Ignoring By Singing: Todd does this, as a form of Brain Bleach when he is forced to listen in as Cody and Jeff discuss Cody's sex life. "You do the hokey pokey and you tune your best friend out..."
- Imagine Spot: Cody's mind.
- Interspecies Romance: Cody as a tiger with Doug as a cougar. And later with Jeff as a goat. A number of these appear elsewhere in the comic actually, such as Trevor and Robbie, Krystal and George, Sam and Marty, Thor and Maureen...
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Thor comes across as a giant ass who uses his size to intimidate people. He's also a plant lover whose actually a pretty nice guy when you get to know him, as long as you avoid his Hair-Trigger Temper.
- Jerkass Fašade: From early on we know Cody's reason for him exhibiting this trope.
- Karma Houdini: Maureen. The comic made it very clear how horrible being outed can be, and she is responsible for outing her brother's first real boyfriend. She proceeds to break a number of laws, and talks Thor into doing her dirty work. She does not seem to appreciate the depth of her actions, let alone receive any punishment for them.
- Knight Templar: Maureen.
- Last Minute Hookup: Cody and Jake are seen making out at the end of a chapter, ending in a Cliff Hanger. Subverted: Not only is it All Just a Dream, but Cody and Jake end up just becoming friends. Some might say this trope actually applies to Cody and Jeff, but that was foreshadowed, at least on Jeff's part, almost from day one.
- Also to a lesser extent, Zach and Allie, which also somewhat comes across as a Beta Couple.
- Lust: Cody feels it with a vengeance.
- Male Gaze: Oh, here and there.
- Cody's view of Jake.
- Jeff's view of Cody.
- Cody and Doug's view of each other.
- Manly Gay: Tyrone and Volle.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: Jake has five brothers.
- Masquerade: An entire arc concerns Cody going to great lengths to prevent his parents finding out he's gay.
- Meganekko: Cody likes Doug with glasses — a sexy Spear Counterpart of the usually female Meganekko.
- Also, for the straight readers, Sam's friend Jeanne.
- Sam herself has a bit of this going on when she meets Cody's parents.
- The Moorcock Effect/Canon Welding: i.s.o. and another work by the same author, The Class Menagerie, not only take place in the same shared universe, but at the same DeMontfort University and their characters even live in the same dorm building, Richter Hall. But whereas TCM characters live on the dorm's third floor, i.s.o. characters Cody and Jake live on the first floor, and the characters from the two stories are not seen meeting one another.
- While none of the ISO cast met the CM cast, there was a 'blink and you miss it' cameo in issue 6, where Sam is describing her taste in men: the skater roo is pretty much confirmed to be Mikey. Also, a retooled Biff appears near the end of issue 9.
- Dani appears in an Imagine Spot in From Russia With Lust.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: The motivation behind Maureen's romance with Wendell. When this is inadvertently ruined by Jeff's drunken make-out session revealing Wendell to be gay, this is what leads her into stalking Jeff for Revenge. Only finding her another husband puts paid to this line of thought.
- Naked Apron: Tyrone is a pair of pants away from this trope. It's hot.
- Nice Guy: Doug.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Todd's CD which Cody mercilessly teases him about features an artist who is an amalgamation of various female pop stars, in this case Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. When trying to defend himself, the Bengal suggests Cody would be just as eager to own a CD by...Brad Jolie. And Doug's CD, which Cody borrowed to burn a copy of after admitting (reluctantly) to liking it himself, has such an artist too. Her name? Diane Salinas. (Switch the names around and sound them out...)
- Not So Stoic: Cody, despite trying to be a stoic tough guy, is incredibly easy to rattle.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Georgiy in From Russia With Lust. Seeing how unhappy his father and contemporaries were being geniuses led him to pretend to be dumb as a brick, despite being just as smart.
- Official Couple: Robbie/Trevor, Cody/Doug (who have since broken up), Cody/Jeff.
- Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: While Cody and Jeff get together, and even the redeemed villains get married and are expecting a baby, poor Doug is left without a man in his life—though to be fair, it is hinted he might be interested in Tim, he gets his life saved, and his breakup with Cody is the best one on record for him. Meanwhile Jeremy, Jeff's old boyfriend outed by Maureen, gets dragged away by his belligerent father and is never seen again. Word of God states he's all right...somewhere...but even factoring in this being a slice-of-life comic which can't have pat endings and all loose ends tied up, it still feels a bit...unsettling.
- Parental Abandonment:
- As mentioned with I Have No Son, Doug's parents kicked him out as a teenager for being gay.
- Jeff and Maureen's parents were killed in an automobile accident.
- Performance Artist: Jake is a dance major.
- Promotion to Parent:
- When Doug's parents kicked him out of the house as a teenager for being with another male, his big sister Sam took him in.
- Also Maureen when Maureen and Jeff's parents were killed in an automobile accident. Not that Maureen was all that good at it, and Jeff was an independent teenager anyway.
- Pun: The author is quite good at these, both verbal and visual, often of a furry nature. Two excellent examples would be the "Wash and Were" (a laundromat with a wolf on the sign) and the Hangout (run by a bat).
- Raging Stiffie: Cody's "proof of gayness".
- Red Herring: A lot of readers thought when he appeared that Nate would be a threat to Cody's relationship with Doug, would even try to sabotage it so he could snag the tiger for himself. (Some actively hoped for it, though not because they had anything against Doug.) But in the end, he turned out to be exactly what he seemed to be—a Nice Guy and a good, gay friend with no strings attached to help show Cody how to have a normal life.
- Reformed, but Rejected: Thor, post-spying confession, at least from Sam's point of view. Then he saves her brother...
- The Reveal: From the end of issue 8, Thor is the spy helping Maureen.
- Romance Arc: Cody and Doug.
- Rule of Sexy: Muscles, abs, buns, haircuts, clothes, builds...
- Rule of Three: "I must not die a virgin I must not die a virgin I must not die a virgin..." "Whew! Not gonna die a virgin." "Aw, crap. I am so gonna die a virgin..."
- Rule 34: Strangely averted. For a comic with a great deal of Ho Yay and Fanservice, there is a significant Fan-Art scene and LGBT Fanbase, but a surprising scarcity of actual Rule Thirty Four, even in the wake of a particularly homoerotic Ship Tease Cliffhanger. And most of the Rule Thirty Four that's actually been published, was by the original artist. This seems to defy expectations of human nature.
- That is because the writer specifically requested that no fans draw such artwork. And his own examples have been highly scarce because he's insistent on ISO remaining a PG-13 comic that isn't all about sex. (Or at least, depictions of it.)
- The fans seem like extraordinary obedient fans. What makes Rule 34 Rule Thirty Four is that it describes a side of predictably irrepressible human nature. And as a rule, it is strangely magically averted in this case.
- Not so strange: the fans had too much respect for the author to disobey his request for no ISO porn. GIFT does not always hold true. Or if a more cynical view is preferred, disobeying would have led to a discontinuation of the comic, which not even the most porn-loving fan would have wanted.
- Secret Relationship: Cody and Doug, before Cody kisses Doug in public in front of several people they know; Cody still tries to keep it secret from his own parents.
- Sex Changes Everything: Cody's great dread.
- Ship Tease: Cody and Jake's sudden making out.
- Shirtless Scene: A number of times with Cody, and also with Doug and a few other characters. Does not technically apply to Jake, as he never wears a shirt anyway. Also Nate at Kyell's.
- Shout-Out: The gay bar Kyell's is named after fellow gay-fiction writer Kyell Gold.
- Also to pop music culture: the music video which Jake gets to be part of has a number of shots inspired by the likes of Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson, while the T-shirts which Jake and Zach buy bear a line "Caught in a rad bromance" parodying a Lady Gaga song.
- Then there's the Scooby-Doo reference when Jake is trying to find out Cody's secret before he finds out that Cody's gay:
Jeepers, Jakey Doo!
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Cody authoritatively giving Doug a very hot kiss.
- Shutting Up Now: Todd, in the last issue when he worries about there being a fire at the crowded Hangout.
, after a Beat panel in which everyone stares at him
: Um...I think I'll just, y'know, stand in the corner with a bag over my head... Cody
: Aww. Well, be sure to cut a hole for your drink!
- Sorry, I'm Gay: Maureen's Trophy Husband fiance Wendell.
- Straight Gay: Doug, Jeff, Robbie. Cody tried but failed to be this. Doug wasn't actually hiding or overcompensating, so he could actually get away with it without mentioning it.
- Tyrone is gay, not that you'd know from looking at him.
- And Nate as well, whose absence from this page was noted by Vince himself.
- Stripperiffic: Jake never wears a shirt.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: When Cody can't get hot Doug out his mind no matter how hard he tries. This is a variation of traditional Stupid Sexy Flanders in that Cody is actually gay rather than straight but (at the time) he hadn't completely come to terms with it yet.
- Super-Deformed: During some of Cody's (or Doug's) cuter Imagine Spots.
- Surfer Dude: Zach.
- Trophy Husband: Maureen almost had this with Wendell, until he was seen making out with Jeff while drunk.
- Tsundere: Thor is a Type A Tsundere who is usually very Jerkass, but is actually very tender while caring for plants. He has also been shown occasionally to be kind and gentle with certain people.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Cody for half the male cast. And Jeff for Cody, which eventually becomes apparent to Cody, and Cody flees as a result.
- Unusual Euphemism: After Nate swiftly thinks on his feet and comes up with a lie to cover for Cody with Jake (yet another Not What It Looks Like situation), Cody says he owes him one. The snow leopard's response? "So...with those big, strong arms...how are you at...polishing?" Which turns out to mean polishing Nate's snowboard.
Cody: Somehow, I knew I was still gonna lose my shirt.
Nate: C'mon, I'm not stupid. Just keep at it. Winter break'll be here before you know it.
- Urban Legend Love Life: Jake and Zach each for their promiscuity, but in Jake's case it's actually completely true.
- Violent Glaswegian: In earlier public drafts of i.s.o., there was no Thor, and in his place was a Jerkass dragon groundskeeper with a Scottish accent named Duncan. This character being able to breathe fire was the original premise of how Thor accidentally started a fire in his Back Story. But Duncan's role was completely replaced with Thor because Duncan's personality and occupation too closely resembled Groundskeeper Willy. Thor, a bison, can't breathe fire, so his fire backstory is more of a conventional accident. Still, Duncan was hot enough to get some Fanart for a little while.
- Visual Pun/Stock Visual Metaphors: The author's artistic style is replete with these. Most occur within Cody's Imagine Spot, but just as many are unusual panel layouts, commentary on the dialogue (slice-of-life shots from Todd and Cody's past are depicted on slices of bread), or ways to liven up the boring square panel comic-book style. To list all of them would be almost as long as this page—and many, many of them are a Crowning Moment of Funny or Crowning Moment of Awesome. The ShoutOuts to Naked Gun in the PG-13 sex scene between Jeff and Cody are particularly hilarious. One of the most striking examples would be the series of images from Cody's lying telephone call to his parents, since each is interlocked with or leads into the next: parachuting out of a plane ("taking the plunge") which lands him in the middle of a spider web ("caught in a web of lies") which then appears inside a maze he has to find his way out of, a maze he is then seen digging out of until finally he is underwater ("in over his head").
- The Voiceless: Boris, because as a Big Eater, he always has food in his mouth. He remains this way until we finally see him speak in issue eight.
- Walking Shirtless Scene:
- Jake never wears a shirt.
- Tyrone never wears a shirt but he does wear a bartender's apron. Somewhat justifiable in that Tyrone is a bat with bat wings, which would make any conventional shirt impractical. Later when Tyrone has to wear a shirt, so he wears one with the sides torn down to accommodate his wings.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: One of the above shirtless scenes, right in the first issue, occurred because Cody, infuriated at Zach and Jake's innuendoes about his upcoming job interview, hulked out of his shirt (which, thanks to him bulking up over the summer, was already too tight). He later invokes the trope name when explaining his appearance to Jeff (in lieu of being thought a Chippendale dancer).
- What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Jokingly invoked by the author to explain how (and why) he creates such wonky panel layouts and Visual Gags. Arguably one of the many reasons the comic has such a big following.
- Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Kyell's, a bar Cody visits with Doug and Doug's friends.
- Wicked Cultured: Maureen is as sophisticated as she is bitchy.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Not only does issue 7's Cliff Hanger turn out to be (mostly) a dream, but even then it was a dream about Jeff.
- Zany Scheme: Cody's plan to have Sam impersonate his girlfriend when his parents come to town for lunch. Nate points out that all such plans are doomed to failure—but in a subversion, Cody reveals he wants the plan to fail, because the point isn't to genuinely convince the Frosts he and Sam are an item, it's to have her break up with him in front of his parents, so as to get them off his back about finding a girl and leave him to date Doug in peace. Further subverted when the appearance of Jake and Becky as Spanners In The Works causes the plot to collapse—with the exact end result Cody had hoped for. The downside? Jake gets hurt in the process, and Cody is left to wonder for the first time whether keeping his orientation a secret is really worth it, if it just keeps hurting his friends, and if he'd really rather be thought a Handsome Lech (or worse a Casanova Wannabe) instead of gay. And the crowning bit? Like almost all Zany Schemes, it wasn't even necessary because his parents end up being perfectly fine with him being gay, and one already suspected.