Chimneyspeak is a webcomic by Jack Cayless taking place in America and England during the late 19th century. It focuses mostly on Elgie Piddlebottom, a dwarf enforcer; Alice McKenzie, madam of a prostitution ring with a complicated relationship with Elgie; and Chelsea Grinn, a completely insane serial killer out for Elgie's blood.The comic has four lengthy chapters, and concluded on October 2, 2013. Cayless took the comic's website down in early 2014, citing the cost of maintaining it, but mentioned that a PDF version might be made available at some point in the future. A sequel to Chimneyspeak was mentioned as being in the works but it's not certain if this is still the case. A prequel involving Jack the Ripper and featuring Elgie and Alice near the start of their relationship is in the development stage. Cayless originally put character designs for the new seriesnote most of which are very NSFW and some early pages on his Tumblr, but has since created a separate Tumblr devoted to its development.The story frequently features graphic violence (edging into Gorn at times), nudity, and sex scenes. While the comic's website was active, Cayless also provided a number of side stories which expanded on the background of the setting, which cost a modest fee. These side stories also frequently featured outright pornographic content, which the actual comic never crossed into.On the site of his new webcomic, Redd, he has announced a new story chapter to come.
This webcomic provides examples of:
Ax-Crazy: Chelsea's body count is in the hundreds.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted ever so much. Chelsea used to be the most beautiful character in the comic, and was convinced she was the most beautiful girl in the world. Now...well, she's still cute, but in a ripped-up teddy bear kind of way.
Determinator: Chelsea's murderous insanity (more specifically, the personality that embodies that insanity) drives her to get up and keep going, no matter how badly she's hurt. It has been theorized that her body massively overproduces adrenaline, allowing her to ignore the crippling effects of the injuries she's sustained.
Why did Chelsea slaughter her way through England, find her way to America, and start killing her way through town (twice), racking up enough wounds that she has more scar tissue than non? Elgie ran past her one night and accidentally tripped her, causing her to fall and get a small scar on her face. She went ballistic.
Suka had a pretty good one as well after Alice's husband left her.
Suka: Are you sad? Why are you sad!? Mikhael! Kill everyone!
Drowning My Sorrows: Elgie does this enough that his absinthe fairy is practically a character of her own.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Chelsea's first scar actually falls into the "cute but warlike" top-of-page example on the trope page, and it's solidly within the good scars rage on her "good" mental construct. The rest of her scars, on the other hand, especially the cheek scars that never healed right...
Even Evil Has Standards: Elgie will murder all the adults you want him to kill, but children are off limits for anything. And most of the people he kills are utter depraved lunatics or total bastards...MOST.
Hoist by His Own Petard: A climactic example in ch.4, when Chelsea is (apparently) killed by the very sword used to kill Angus only a few panels earlier, thanks to some very unfortunate position shifts and Angus not having the good grace to fall down immediately after being impaled.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Alice jumps all over the place on this. Her girls are well-fed and making more money (both for her and themselves) than ever, but she also engages in child prostitution, and got her position by hiring a man to kill her predecessor's husband, and taking over when she broke down. She also employs children as snipers.
Ignore the Fanservice: This comes up both in the original comic and the prequel. Elgie's been around Alice and the Working Girls so much that nothing about their attire (or lack thereof) or what they do in their "work" fazes him, and he appears to be similarly unmoved by seeing Chelsea in the altogether.
Impaled Palm: Happens to Chelsea during her fight with Elgie.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: This happens to several people over the course of the comic, but the most significant instance happens in ch. 4, when Chelsea puts a claymore all the way through Angus. Shortly after, since Angus has a sword blade sticking out of his chest but is still standing, Bonnie kicks him in the back. Chelsea, who has moved around in front of him, gets skewered, apparently through the heart, which finally kills her.
Interplay of Sex and Violence: A brutal fight between Elgie and Chelsea is intercut with panels showing Suka and Alice having sex, which is happening at the same time elsewhere.
In the Blood: The queen of England claims that all the Grinns are as bloodthirsty as Chelsea, although there is evidence that they know exactly what they're doing. Not Chelsea, though. She's just crazy.
Kaleidoscope Eyes: Chelsea Grinn's eyes change colors depending on which of her personalities is in control. When she gets red rings around her pupils, everyone around her tends to die horribly.
Karmic Jackpot: Chelsea spares an entire group of people in the basement of a bar that she had planned to slaughter gleefully, all because she recognizes one man there who had given her a single genuine compliment six years earlier. And yet she still blows a guy's head off for telling her what she wanted to know (just because some other guy vowed to kill him once they got out).
Killed Offscreen: Chelsea (depending on how you interpret what happened to her during the climactic swordfight) and her parents, based on the fallout from strip 44 and strips 54 and 55 of ch.4. The mask-wearing man is wearing Mr. Grinn's coat and carrying his sword, and cooks up a plot to squat in the Grinn's mansion. His cohorts also mention doing a good job with the graves.
Knife Nut: Elgie. It backfires a little when he brought a gun, but started the fight by throwing a knife. He's not used to using guns, you see.
Elgie is 2 feet tall, and shrugged off having a horse thrown at him and being kicked and thrown around by Chelsea. He also survived Suka gut-shooting him, although it was touch-and-go for a while.
Chelsea's survived being impaled and having multiple point blank gunshots to the chest and torso. The current theory is that her body overproduces adrenaline constantly (so much so that her usual low point is where most people are when they're on an adrenaline high). That said, she doesn't survive the Impaled with Extreme Prejudice instance above, since it appears to go through her heart.
Chelsea Grinn sports a Glasgow Grin, also known as a "Chelsea smile".
"Suka" means "bitch" in Russian (in both the "dog" and "not-nice-behavior" senses), and also something like "traitor" or "informer" in Russian prison-speak. Alice kills Suka and the comic ends without revealing if the latter is meaningful. No word yet on whether or not the prequel will go into this.
Mercy Kill: Chelsea to Heinrich, after he tells her where Elgie is. Alice's pet American tells Heinrich "You're a dead man", by which he probably meant a brutal murder. Chelsea kisses Heinrich on the forehead and shoots him in the base of the skull, through the mouth.
Naked on Arrival: Chelsea is introduced stark naked, and she murders a sailor for his clothing.
Notorious Killers: Elgie is referred to by the surname of "Mr. Ripper" early on in the series, and the story from which he originated connected him to the Jack the Ripper murders. The author's commentary places this story as non-canon to Chimneyspeak. Alice confirms in the third chapter that Elgie killed Jack the Ripper. The prequel will, in part, revolve around Jack the Ripper tangling with Alice and Elgie.
Platonic Life Partners: Alice and Elgie have known each other since Alice was a teenager and, despite the bad blood that crops up between them over the course of the comic, are about as intimate as a man and woman can be without actually being...intimate. Eventually subverted; at the very end of the comic they're anything but platonic.
Proud Warrior Race: The Scots, which is a pretty good summary of the real life version from the time.
Chelsea: These men will be remembered as heroes. These men that shot blindly into the smoke. These men that screamed and cried and ran. These men who couldn't kill one little girl. Honestly, I'm disappointed. Are these the best soldiers that England has to offer? Highlander: Aye, lass. Those were the best that England has tae offer.
Shown Their Work: All the slang is correct, as are the foreign languages and the weapons used. Oh, except that the Highlanders use the wrong type of sword, but that's fine:
The Rant: Yes yes, sword nerds. We all know that during the 17th century onwards, Highlander officers preferred the basket-hilted broadswords. But fuck it, they ainít nearly as terrifying. And they have an Italian flare that leaves a foul taste in the mouth when it comes to the brutish juggernauts the Chimneyspeak Highlanders need to be!
The Speechless: Question Mark, on account of having his tongue cut out.
Split Personality: Chelsea has several personalities, representing how she was before the accident, how she could have been (if she had just accepted her first scar as an unfortunate accident and gotten on with her life), and how she is now. And then there's the last one, which even the others are scared of.