Alice tells the story of Alice Dobson who lives with her father in a quiet Canadian town. Alice is a Miss ImaginationCloudcuckoolander whose fantasies tend to spill into the real world - much to the annoyance of her more down-to-earth best friend Dot, who nevertheless often finds herself joining in on the various (mis)adventures. They're sometimes also joined by their other friend, the boy-crazy and ditzy Joanne, with whom they form a classic Comic Trio.Other important characters in the comic are Alice's always-off-screen mother (who lives in Europe and seldom sees Alice but whose absence is heavily felt) and her father's new girlfriend, Joan.The comic has a lot in common with Calvin and Hobbes (which it occasionally references and gives more or less obvious Shout Outs to) in its mixing of the mundane with the wildly fantastic and overly-imaginative protagonist, but it's more obviously a fantasy comic; Alice's fantasies aren't only for her but tend to drag other people (most often Dot) along, and as such it's not always easy to know what's real and what's imagined. Alice is also more inclined towards longer (and often recurring) storylines rather than stand-alone gags.
Contains examples of the following tropes:
A-Cup Angst: Played with a little when the girls get their first training bras and neither of them are developed enough to show — so Joanne stuffs her bra with tissues to make it appear that she's got huge breasts. Nobody's fooled for even a second. note Interestingly enough, later in the comic, when the girls have started eighth grade and actually dveloped breasts, Joanne is definitely the smallest of the three — but by now she doesn't seem to view it as a problem.
Brainy Brunette: Dot, who unlike Alice is a good and attentive student who enjoys schoolwork (though she has problems with the creative subjects Alice excels at).
Breaking the Fourth Wall: The first comic does the classic "welcome to the comic" No Fourth Wall opening. After that, especially in the stip's early days, there would be the occasional fourth-wall-breaking strips, though they tended to get more subtle and creative as time went on.
Canada, Eh?: A very neutral portrayal of Canada overall. However, invoked with the "Thanksgiving" strip, which was originally put up on American Thanksgiving*
American Thanksgiving is in November - Canadian Thanksgiving is in October.
and Joanne mentioned how they were pandering to their American readers by having the strip then
Comic Trio: Alice, Dot and Joanne often form one when they're together. Usually, Alice takes the role of the schemer, with Joanne as the follower and Dot as the powerless sane one, but they'll occasionally swap roles depending on the situation.
Deadpan Snarker: Several character have traces of this, but none more than Dot.
Evil Stepmother: Very much averted with Joan, to Alice's frustration; she's really uncomfortable with her father having a new girlfriend and doesn't want another mother... but it's hard to hate someone so genuinely kind and understanding. (Not that Alice doesn't try her best.)
Failing a Taxi: In Chicago, Joan tries to get a taxi but it doesn't work.
Fantastic Comedy: At least at first, the argument could be made that the fantastic things are all in Alice's head — but as the strip goes on, too many of the fantastic story plots get integrated in the real world for this explanation to make complete sense.
First Kiss: Alice is simultaneously relieved and disappointed by hers.
Freudian Excuse: The main reason Alice reacts the way with Joan is because she blurts out in the "Camping with Joan" storyline that she doesn't need another mother to abandon her. Since it actually happened to Alice twice.
Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: Happens to Alice, Dot and Joanne when they go skinny dipping. They put all their clothes in a plastic bag tor safekeeping, only to have a dog carry the bag off in its mouth. They share a large cardboard box in order to get to their respective homes. Dot and Joanne both make it indoors undetected, but Alice doesn't.
Insult Backfire: Tiffany calls Alice "Four-eyes" when she has glasses. Alice takes this literally and starts looking for her second pair of eyes, and gets mad at Tiffany for lying.
Missing Mom: Not dead, just living abroad. It's more than hinted that she's very close to Alice in personality, and that this has made her a loving, but often unreliable, irresponsible and absent parent.
Also there was Miranda, Eric's new wife after he got the divorce. Alice was two years old and loved Miranda very much, but she died in a car accident. Though Alice in present day doesn't remember Miranda, she still subconsciously knows that she's lost not one but two mothers — which is why she has such problems letting Joan get close to her.
Not Allowed to Grow Up: Ultimately averted. even if it doesn't seem like it at first: The girls are growing older, albeit very slowly (Lampshaded by Alice when she enters the eighth grade, and comments that it feels like she's been a seventh-grader for five years).
Red-Headed Hero: Alice, though how much of her heroism is real and how much is imagined can be hard to tell sometimes.
Running Gag: The "I've forgotten something" strips. The basic gag is that Alice is off somewhere and enjoying herself, but has a nagging feeling that she's forgotten something important — and then the scene cuts to the teacher at school asking where she is, indicating that she forgot to go to school. As the strip progresses there are a lot of variants on this (Dot is the one who's absent because she forgot to set her watch, the teacher is the one who forgot to show up at school, Alice is the only one who shows up at school because she forgot it was a holiday, and so on).
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Dot frequently makes comments along this line, though notably it's very rare for her to actually leave; she usually just makes the threat to.
Sorry he's Gay: One arc features Joanne and Dot thinking Joan is cheating on Eric after seeing her hanging out with another man at the mall. (And the pool.) They try to hide Alice from them, only for her to surprise them when she points out that the man Joan was with was the man who introduced Eric and Joan - and he's gay.
The Unseen: Alice's mother has yet to appear on-screen. Several storylines center on Alice going to see her or getting a visit from her, but circumstances often hinder them from actually meeting (and when they do meet, we don't get to see the meeting).
What the Hell, Hero?: Over the course of the series, all the major characters get at least one scene where they're called out on their behavior. Alice gets the most, usually over her irrational dislike for Joan.