‘’Two strangers, an apartment, and snow. A lot of snow.’’Bricktown
is a webcomic
written and drawn by Christopher Barley. It stars a pair of strangers, Greg and Jill, who come to share an apartment because of a trick by a mutual acquaintance (his friend, her cousin). While at first the duo hate each other, they eventually come to care for one another as friends, and continue living together.
Set in a fictionalized version of Rochester, New York, the series follows an Ensemble Cast
of Greg and Jill’s circle of friends and acquaintances. Nearly every character is a nerd of some sort or another, just like the author himself
, which is befitting since most of them went to Rochester Institute of Technology, the same school which in Real Life
gave us the duo who made Geek Nights
The story is a Slice of Life Romantic Comedy
, focusing on primarily on the interactions and developing relationships between the various characters
. It relies heavily on humorous Story Arcs
, with small comedic breaks, or potentially just filler art, between the arcs.
The humor comes variously from the interplay of characters (mostly Greg and Jill
), comedic shout outs
to pop culture and nerd culture, the general idiosyncrasies of people, and the occasional jaunt into absurdism
In general, just like real life, it falls fairly in the middle of the Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness
, and most arcs will have an even amount of comedy and drama, though it's also very much into the "optimistic" end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
, so even the serious moments end up being more tender and heartfelt than downright angsty
Originally, it was hosted on Drunk Duck
, but has since moved over to its own page on BricktownComic.com
The comic features or the following tropes:
- A-Cup Angst: Jill seems to be a little sensitive about her pettanko status, but mostly when people mock her about it.
- Art Evolution: As the author became more comfortable drawing the characters, and began using better materials, the character designs have become more set and detailed. A few notable instances:
- All the characters went from having fully-black irises in early colored comics, to each having a color unique to them in more recent comics
- The comic itself has gone from black and white to colored every day, since the author has become more proficient with Adobe Illustrator (and thus learned how to color in very short amounts of time)
- Greg’s hair began as vaguely square, then evolved to full-on boxy later on.
- Greg went from having normal eyebrows in the first few comics to Big Ol' Eyebrows quickly
- Jill’s hair started out as vaguely flat on the bottom, like chin-length hair. As time went on, it’s morphed into a more spherical puffed-out pageboy.
- Jill was initially drawn as very slim or almost wiry. As time went on, befitting her sporty background, she developed a more athletic build, with fuller arms, shapelier legs, and a toned tummy.
- Jill’s red shirt started out as loose-fitting, but over time became more form-fitting, most notably that it now hugs her arms
- Initially, Jill wore white lace-less tennis shoes with her Capri pants; more recently, because the weather has gotten much colder, she’s begun wearing boots that are the same shade of red as her shirt.
- Jen’s bust, which Greg notes at one point "are way bigger than Jill’s” started out as not being much bigger than Jill’s, and fluctuated a bit in size. Over time, however, she became bustier, and her design finally settled at around a D-cup.
- Artifact Title: Somewhat of a stealth example. While in this version of Rochester, the entire city is nicknamed “Bricktown,” the title originally came from “Brick City,” the nickname specifically for RIT, where the author had written the first modern iterations of the story. Once he graduated, and decided to have the characters be out of school as well, the name “Bricktown” was assigned to Rochester as a whole. All this happened well before the comic was first published, however.
- Bechdel Test: An odd example. Ostensibly, it doesn’t rate highly, as (as of now) only Jen and Jill are the only female characters, and they talk about boys a lot; however, Jill does have an ex-coworker with whom she had a work-related conversation. At the same time, said two main women are generally more strong-willed and proactive than the men, and while Greg and Jill are each just as likely to act aggressively as they are submissively when it comes to their UST, their default setting when not pushing the tension is a bit more of a Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy relationship.
- Bill, particularly, is very much on the submissive side of things, while Jen is very much aggressive and confident.
- Then again, the comic falls squarely into Romantic Comedy territory, so it’s natural that Jen and Jill talk about boys; heck, most of the conversations Greg and Bill have had are in regards to girls!
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Greg, though he didn’t start out that way.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Greg and Jill. It’s the author’s favorite Trope on TV Tropes, and Ranma is one of his favorite Animes, if that gives any indication of his preference for this trope (he often draws Greg cosplaying as Ranma).
- Chainmail Bikini: Averted hard with Boudicca, Jill’s character in D&D. She officially wears a leather muscle cuirass with leather platemail pteruges at her crotch and rear, leather-and-fur gauntlets, a fabric bodysuit underneath, and fur knee-high boots. The only bit of skin showing is her face.
- Clothing Damage: Appropriately enough when fighting a dragon, nearly everyone in the party suffers this and lacerations during the fight with the Shadow Dragon.
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: Jill and Jen. Jill, by way of having an eternal tan; Jen, by being naturally dark skinned with blonde hair.
- Four Temperment Ensemble:
- Greg – Sanguine
- Jill – Choleric
- Bill – Melancholic
- Jen – Phlegmatic, or more accurately, Phlegmatic-Sanguine.
- Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Jen, by far the most well-composed character in the series, prefers wearing a lavender shirt
- Limited Wardrobe: Played With. The characters obviously have their default/favored outfits, which they wear the majority of the time, but they are also shown wearing different outfits, as well, from time to time.
- Meaningful Name: Some of the Ziegelstadt Characters
- Boudicca, a Barbarian, named for the Britonnic war-queen.
- Loge, a Rogue, named after the German version of Loki, God of Trickery.
- Senvizagian Senoma, Curt’s Cavalier character meaning “No Face, No Name” in Esperanto
- Kyrie Eleison, Steve’s female Dhampyr Gunslinger: “God/Lord Have Mercy”
- Mr. Fanservice: Bill - Tall, with a very toned build, great hair, just the slightest bit exotic, is prone to adorkable moments, and looks great in a suit.
- Ms. Fanservice: Jen – tall, dark, and beautiful, with bronze hair, great features, by far the smartest character, and a playful, strong, smoldering personality.
- Noodle Incident: Two, in fact.
- Jill made the University of Pittsburgh's Men’s Rugby Team cry… ‘’How’’, exactly, is left up to the reader’s imagination.
- Steve is no longer allowed to use rope in D&D, because he has caused “no less than three in-game apocalypses.” No further information is ever given, probably because of the trauma it would bring back to everyone (except Steve) involved.
- Outdoorsy Gal: Give how tanned she is, it’s a safe bet to assume that Jill is/was one.
- Passionate Sports Girl: Jill, who comes from Pittsburgh (where Football is revered more highly than God). She loves football, has a Steelers lamp in her room, and was captain of the MEN'S Rugby team at her undergraduate school, The University of Pittsburgh. She's very much a tomboy, and is more than up to a competition of any kind at any time.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Invoked after Loge, Greg’s D&D character is put down to negative Hit Points
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Both Jill and her D&D Character, Boudicca. Despite being 5-foot-even, Jill is apparently strong enough to swing around an HDTV, or to throw a bowling ball with good accuracy.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Boudicca, whenever she Rages.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jill's red to Greg's blue. Greg is an unabashed nerd with a seemingly general mellow attitude, who can quickly turn into a Grade-A Cloudcuckoolander at the drop of the hat; Jill is a rabid sports fan with only hints of being a closet nerd, is generally more uptight and by-the-book than Greg, and has a Hair-Trigger Temper. To drive the point home, Greg's typical wardrobe consists of various shades of blue, while Jill's consists of shades of red.
- Shout-Out: The author is a self-proclaimed “horrendous nerd”. As such, the shout outs are many and often.
- The vast majority of strips’ titles are references to something.
- Greg and Jill live in Room 451
- Greg is a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Jen can be seen reading her favorite novel, Game of Thrones, in several strips.
- The strip, "Don't Do it, California!" is a giant Shout-Out to Seven.
- Greg and Jill's first time really getting along involved Space Jam.
- Greg apparently applied to Stu's shop, "Rochester Alchemist and Barrister," in an Ed Elric Cosplay, complete with Al plushy on his shoulder.
- When Greg tries to apologize to Jill, his efforts included getting her a football signed by Terry Bradshaw (she's from Pittsburgh), and him recreating the boom-box scene from Say Anything.
- Greg drives a VW Beetle with Autobot hubcaps
- During the “Welcome to Rochester” story arc, a whole flock of penguins shows up in their apartment in one comic and are never mentioned again. Among the penguins is Pen-Pen, and the comic is titled Gunther!?
- Greg and Jill play Scrabble. As Greg points out, it’s not a smart idea to play Scrabble against a writer
- Greg is apparently a huge fan of Superman: he wears red-and-blue boxer-briefs with the S-Shield on them, and has a red-and-black Superman shirt similar to the one worn by Conner Kent
- Curt is a Trekker. He wears a turtleneck which looks like a Starfleet uniform from the Next Gen Era, and a coat which explicitly is an official Next Gen jacket.
- Steve owns a jacket with a Decepticon symbol on the left breast.
- The cast are fans of Dungeons & Dragons, though they openly play Pathfinder rather than 4E. The entire first Ziegelstadt arc was, according to the author, as accurate to the real Pathfinder rules as humanly possible.
- During the “When Billy Met Jenny” arc, Greg’s hair has grown long and unruly. Jill says his head looks like a Tribble, and his hair's shape is very similar to Spike Spiegel’s
- South Paw: If you pay attention, you'll notice Jill is a lefty.
- Tomboy: Jill, Jill, Jill. See both Tsundere and Passionate Sports Girl.
- Token Minority: Inverted with the main cast of characters; only Jill, Randy, and Aaron are a) white, and b) Christian. As for the rest:
- Greg’s biography reveals him to be a Buddhist
- Bill is Jewish, though he’s a typical Moderate Jew, so it’s not immediately obvious.
- Both Curt and Steve are black. While Curt’s family is completely American, Steve is half African American (his mother), half Afro-Brazilian (his father), thus his Portuguese last name, Rocha
- Jen is Ambiguously Brown, though she does have either dark blonde or very light brown hair. Her character bio says this is because she is half Cherokee, a quarter Melanese, and a quarter Dutch, so genetics are in her favor to have such a phenotype.
- Word of God says Stu is Jewish, and shows more “typically Jewish” traits. Then again, he’s also from Joisey, which in many ways overrides his other traits, especially his manner of speech.
- John is, of course, Buddhist, given that he left American to join a Buddhist Convent in Japan.
- Tsundere: Jill, with a Hair-Trigger Temper rivaling Akane Tendou. The author's even said that, while he created Jill and solidified her personality long before he discovered Ranma, he doesn't deny the similar personalities, and rather enjoys the parallels between the characters.
- Write Who You Know: the author has admitted that several of the characters are based on friends/roommates of his from college.
- Write What You Know: the author went to Rochester Institute of Technology, is an omni-nerd, and is a graphic artist (duh). The comic takes place in the city of Rochester, NY, is about a group of nerds with a myriad of interests, and Greg is a graphic artist.