A Loonatic's Tale by Rebecca Burg (Artist and co-writer) and Rick Fortner (co-writer) is a webcomic about...Well, it's a tale. About a bunch of Loonatics. Specifically, it's centered on the adventures of Riley Zinc and Flint Dartson, as they start work for the King of Mercia as a team of "elite" freelancers. While the cast is still being introduced, we have so far met what appears to be the central group of the comic, and the story can only grow from there with a unique art style, a wide range of character personalities, and constant fourth-wall breaking.The story itself has been a long time in development, starting from the first issue, "Zinc's Day Out", in early 2007 and beginning the fourth issue, "Talking to Myself", in August 2009. As well, there have been two one-shot comics ("Vagabond" and "Crossbones") that have been posted, adding more depth to the world and as-yet unknown characters in the main comic.If the site layout is an issue, Rebecca also posts the comics on her deviantART account, found here.
This comic provides examples of:
All There in the Manual - Rebecca and Rick will often give info about the characters that hasn't been brought up in the main comic yet.
They're obsessively tight-lipped about anything that will become a plot point in the future, though. Which can be maddening, because they have several years' worth of material prepared.
Art Evolution - Look at the cover page for the original "Zinc's Day Out". Then look at the latest page of either "Crossbones" or "Talking to Myself", and say the art hasn't improved. I dare you.
Art Shift - The main premise in "Talking to Myself." Each style shift is intended to reflect different characters, and how they see themselves and the world.
Awesome, but Impractical - Lynch Cruor's weapon of choice is a Punjab lasso — in layman's terms, a weaponized hangman's noose. Fortunately for him, he's had almost a millenium to perfect his technique.
Badass Normal- A significant portion of the Mercia Elite. While they're mostly hired based on Malcolm's "save-the-puppy" mentality, most of them are experts in their fields (firearms and explosives for Laguna, hand-to-hand combat for Polly, sarcasm for Flint).
Body Horror - The Zinc family hair is a mild (and not really "horrible" so much as "weird") example, which hasn't really come up in the comic yet. It eats (literally) anything it comes into contact with. The only exception is that it will tolerate one (UND PRECISELY VUN) variety of hat, which is different for each individual Zinc.
Bonus Material - Quite a lot of it. The cast page on the site has a psychoanalysis for about every character there, and you can also find animation projects, Becky's art installations for her school projects, a read-along for a section of Stone Cold Crazy, and a board game that is unrelated to the comic (But still looks pretty cool). In the books, meanwhile, you get sketches and commentary. The Crossbones book has a fanart section, while Volume 1 of the main comic features the Fourth Wall Mail Slot and a bonus short comic.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick - Literally. Laguna puts some organs from a corpse into a machine for analysis. The machine spits out a shopping list with the results nestled between produce and condiments.
More recently, a video listing a reviewer's top five webcomics cites A Loonatic's Tale not only as his #1 favorite, but the webcomic which got him into reading webcomics aside from The Order of the Stick (which he already read when he discovered ALT). The list also includes Erfworld, Penny Arcade...and Concession. What the tardnoise?
Breaking the Fourth Wall - Done on several occasions. A few notable instances are when Flint tries losing a pursuer by jumping into the panel below, and Riley getting nervous because they're on page 13. An installation project by the artist also featured Flint breaking out of the comic book itself and exploring the room, making snide remarks before falling back into a computer animation.
"This panel's crowded..."
BrilliantCompetent But Lazy - Word of God on Dr. Chester. He would be the best doctor on staff (excluding the directors, Drs. Jeffrey Nobelium and Charles Terbium), except that he gives so little of a shit about his patients that he prefers to medicate them rather than treat them.
Canon Discontinuity - The second storyline, "Job Hunting," never happened/will be rewritten over the course of summer 2010.
Word of God is that this has always been in the cards, to a certain degree-neither Rick nor Becky has ever been particularly happy with the original, because somewhere along the line it became a school assignment, which brought with it a number of restrictions like "no weapons or violence" which are all well and good for people who think that "child friendly" is better than "quality entertainment", but really only served to detract from the story in this particular case.
Character Tics - Zinc family members will have their left eye twitch when they feel a negative emotion (anger, fear, etc.).
Chess Master - Miya's character profile informs us that, at the tender age of 13, she's a master manipulator and a fledgeling version of this, if not already there.
Colonel Badass: General Esteban, who is also Sergeant Rock. A Mercian general during the great war, both sides remember him fondly: Mercia because he was patriot and a military genius who got the job done, and Mysteel because he lacked the capacity to address his troops in any fashion except for an enraged bellow, and was a military genius who got the job done.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass - See Badass Normal above. Laguna is tremendously lazy and won't get involved unless he absolutely has to (and still, no promises), Polly has been scientifically proven to be the second-nicest being in existence, and the notion that Riley is good for anything at all comes as a shock even if you've seen it happen before.
Damned by Faint Praise - Dr. Qubert tends to get this; he's enthusiastic, but that's about all you can say for him.
A Day in the Limelight - Vagabond from the short comic by the same name, and Troy from Crossbones. Made even more notable by the fact that while they will probably be major players, neither one has appeared in the main comic yet.
Though the next side comic, Bulletproof, appears to be about Laguna.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture - Most countries in the world of A Loonatic's Tale are Expies of real ones. Mercia and Mysteel are notable examples as they're both American Expies; just different aspects of America (Mysteel tends towards super-patriotism, gun-nuttery, and warmongering, while Mercia favors peace, diplomacy, and keeping your head down. Make up your own mind which parts of America these fit with).
George Jetson Job Security - Dr. Chester has this, being lazy and apathetic about his job to the (hitherto thought impossible) point of being even more dangerous to his patients than Dr. Qubert. Word of God (see Brilliant, but Lazy above) is that he only keeps his job because the directors occasionally hinge his continued employment on the success of a case.
Good Is Not Nice: Mercia has a zero percent unemployment rate. This is partly because Malcolm will give a job to anybody who needs one, and the gaps are filled in by the fact that people who don't accept tend to get pitched off the mesa.
The Juggernaut- Laguna, full stop. His title "The Bulletproof General" comes from the fact that he's been in over a hundred battles without so much as a scratch, even if the rest of his team's been wiped out.
Laser-Guided Karma: Dr. Robert Chester of the Mercia Sanitarium and Straitjacket Emporium divides his time between being mean to Qubert, derisive of his patients, and surly towards the world in general. Nothing nice ever happens to him.
Meaningful Name: It's quite appropriate that Lynch Cruor fights using a Punjab lasso.
And more bad luck than incompetence. The demise of his patients is rarely even his fault (the most recent death was a penny in a light socket; cited as "stupidity, not suicide" by Van).
Lynch Cruor is another example, this time played straight.
Only Six Faces - Averted, as the artist does make a point of giving each character different facial features, both subtle and dramatic... at least in later strips. The early pages aren't as good with this.
Also played somewhat straight with the fact that male members of the Zinc family have very strong genetics (and as a result their faces look VERY similar.)
Female members, we may never officially know about. Although Becky's deviantART gallery once-upon-a-time featured a pair of female Zincs-by-blood (all female Zincs in the comic and/or the backstory thereof have thus far married into the family), the direction the story's taken (and the fact that they're a generation or two down the line from Riley, who lacks the capacity to relax enough to breed) means that they've basically been written out.
Our Ghosts Are D Ifferent - Jasper Zinc can become tangible by donning a special computer chip. Otherwise, ghosts are bound to the building they appear in, cannot speak or cross running water, and are weak to light. They do, however, have increased strength and the ability to possess others.
Our Vampires Are Different - There appear to be three types of vampires so far: Flint's type (which appear to be more of a "classic" variety), the Cruor vampires (who have another set of fangs that secrete a deadly poison), and a more corpse-like variety that is caused by a cat jumping over a shallow grave. The last is the kind Troy McKelski will eventually become.
Word of God is that, as far as natural-born vampires go, the characteristics thereof are tied to family. Therefore, the Cruors have poison fangs, mental powers, and can't venture out into the sunlight, while the not-yet-featured Neilos family, for example, can turn into bats and fly, and have no trouble with the sun at all.
Used by the Mysteel military as ranking indicators; so, depending on promotion metrics, any given scarf may well be a literal Scarf of Asskicking.
Shrug of God: Rick and Becky will never, ever tell anything that will be important to a later story. Even if it will be years before they get to it.
Stylistic Suck - Also literal suck at the same time-Rick draws the pages of Talking To Myself where Riley and Flint try to offer Qubert some insight into Laguna's mental state. From the very first panel it becomes abundantly clear why Becky handles all the art.
Sunglasses at Night - Laguna wears them, though it's because the flare from his guns can hurt his eyes otherwise.
A-Team Firing - Laguna suffers from this, though it's because his eyes are so sensitive to light.
Totally Radical - In-universe example. Chuck Terbium keeps using the phrase "real talk", but no one seems to have any idea what "real talk" actually means (from context, it's possible it means something like "yeah, right").
Trigger Happy - What idiot gave Riley a firearm? Oh, the boss. Way to go, boss. You gave a crazy man heavy artillery.
Also, Mysteelions in general are known to be so gun-nutty that Dr. Nobelium has apparently managed to get Mysteel Gun Fixation Syndrome recognized as a real disorder.
TV Genius - Averted and played straight by Jasper, at the same time. He's legitimately of genuis-level intelligence, but he gives other people so little credit for their intelligence that he deliberately cultivates this persona to make sure everyone gets the message straight away.
Vitriolic Best Buds - Doctors Jeffrey Nobelium and Charles Terbium. Lifelong friends and a crack psychoanalytical team-Jeff is a diagnostic genius, while Chuck takes treatment to insane levels. They banter back and forth on their notes as they disagree over diagnoses, treatments, and whether or not insulting Dr. Qubert is acceptable (Jeff says no); Lee Cruor's analysis gets particularly heated, culminating in Nobelium declaring he hates Terbium forever, only to agree to go out for a beer later.
The Voiceless - The characters of the comic write the newsposts, and post on the forums, in character. Miya communicates entirely through image macros in this format.
The Wonka- Riley's father Cyrus is a private investigator with a very childlike outlook and extremely active imagination-probably a little too active. In one side story, he actually gets depressed because he turned out to be the murderer in a game of Clue. And HIS father Jasper has a sweet tooth so insatiable that he'll literally drop everything if he so much as suspects that there's candy in the room.
Word of God - Ask Becky or Rick something. Anything. No, go on. If they don't tell you, either they haven't worked it out yet, or it's going to be important later.
You Have to Believe Me - Poor Zinc. Even though he is technically crazy, he's right about many things that others dismiss as his mental issues. The bug zapper, for instance...
Younger than They Look - Despite his young age, Malcolm's been through a lot and probably has the attitude of a 70-year-old.