“Be more careful round here. Y’dunno WHAT’s gonna come crawlin’ out”
is a Steampunk
webcomic begun in 2011 written and illustrated by Katherine Ellis
Maddy and Jack were the best of friends, until the Altavian bombing of Banemberg forced them apart
. Maddy’s left hand was shattered, and she fled with her family to the countryside. Jack was impaled in the bombing and was rescued
when he had a generator surgically implanted into his body
, turning him into a Crankrat
Eventually, the Altavians and Bantarians signed a tenuous cease-fire. However, the treaty was conditional on the extermination of all the crankrats.
Now years later, Spirited young Madelene
has returned to Banemberg
to find work as a bar singer to support her family. Meanwhile in Banemberg, Jack has managed to escape the extermination of the rest of the crankrats to work at the very same bar. Maddy believes that Jack died in the bombing all those years ago. Jack on the other hand, believes that he has already found Maddy, living in the smog in the lower levels of Banemberg, now driven insane by the haze.
When Maddy’s airship comes under assault by an Altavian gunrunner, Jack drives the gunrunner away. However, the emergence of a crankrat after all these years threatens an already tenuous cease fire...
Crankrats is not updated on a regular schedule
, but Kathy’s Tumblr
has plenty of extra goodies
to keep everyone satisfied.
Crankrats can be read here
or at DeviantArt.
You can also support the artist by purchasing the first three chapters in hardcover format from the Crankrats shop
Now compliant with The Wiki Rule here
This comic contains examples of:
- The Ace: Harley. He was the youngest gunner ever to serve, he made his first kill when he was fifteen, and he retired after only five years with a stellar reputation which he earned by slaughtering all the crankrats except Jack.
- Ambiguously Brown: The Altavian people.
- Anti-Villain: Hunter and Mayfax have been deeply scarred by the war, and are willing to do anything to protect their respective countries, and Colonel Ruxton is little more than a Punch Clock Villain in that respect. On the other hand, Word Of God utterly Averts this in the case of Silas.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "Do you miss your parents?"
- Art Evolution: compare page 1 to page 132.
- Also check out this doodle for a more specific example of how the design of the two main characters have evolved.
- Applied Phlebotinum: The mechanics behind the eponymous Crankrats.
- Badass Boast:
“You know... only two men in this world are allowed to insult me. One of them is dead... the other is waiting for my call... which makes you neither
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Maddy and Jack. You love it. Don't deny it.
- Big Damn Heroes: Deconstructed. Jack’s rescue of Maddys Valkyrie in chapter 4 ends up almost destabilizing a fragile peace treaty.
- Blood Knight: The crankrats were created by the Bantarians for the express purpose of slaughtering Altavians. In hindsight, they may have been a bit too successful.
- Brick Joke: On page 195, Jack tells Maddy that a certain regular patron will forget that he made an order as soon as he made it. Sure enough, eleven pages later he has forgotten it.
- Butt Monkey: Jack shows shades of this now and again.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Or in Maddy's case, Calling The Blithering Hag Out.
- Catapult Nightmare: Two so far.
- Chekhov's News: On page 135, a random newspaper blows across a panel with the headline: "Coronation of Prince Elliot. The End of General Mayfax's Reign?"
- City of Adventure: Banemberg.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Lettie.
- Cool Pet: Joey the mechanimal. He has a built in two-way radio! His tail is a screwdriver! He irritates Harley when he's working! He tastes like oil! Ain't he cute?
- Cunning Linguist: Maddy taught herself to speak Altavian. Unfortunately Jack can't speak it.
- Enter Stage Window: Too bad there aren’t too many Jack-sized windows...
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Facial Markings: Altavian Clan Markings.
- Fake-Out Make-Out: Saved up for the 200th page no less!
- Fantastic Racism: Bantarians regularly enslave Altavians.
- Fate Worse than Death: The Hazers. The smog in the lower levels of Banemberg slowly strips people of their humanity and turns them into mindless walking horrors.
- Fiery Redhead: Maddy.
Maddy: “And proud of it, Mr Jenkins.”
- Genki Girl: "Hurricane" Lettie
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: Myrtle Hennesy
- The Glomp: Lettie has a bad habit of Facegrabbing people.
- Gone Horribly Right: Creating a bunch of walking electrical storms in order to Mercilessly slaughter your enemies? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jack and Harley, with shades of Vitriolic Best Buds in the mix.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Maddy is 5'5" and Jack is 6'6" (except when he's 6'7").
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The reason for Jack’s Emergency Transformation.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jack. He might be an abrasive, chain-smoking drunk, but he cares deeply for Lettie and the Hazer girl that he thinks is Maddie.
- Loyal Animal Companion / Canine Companion: Dachi and Toogie; Altavian Wargs.
- Mechanical Horses: They're sort of hidden in the background, and they have yet to be relevant to the plot (and that's even assuming they will be relevant at all) but goddammit, they're just so awesome!
- Mood Whiplash: This page. In a single panel, the atmosphere switches from disgustingly cute to flat out terrifying.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Harley.
- Official Couple: Maddy and Jack. Don't believe us? Just have a look through Kathy’s Tumblr. Plus, Word Of God all but confirms it.
- One Steve Limit: An in-universe example.
Jack: “NAME STEALIN’ BINT!”
- Old Shame: The crankrats are this to the Bantarian military.
- Our Hazers Are Different
- Proper Lady: Mrs Crosham, as well as Maddie’s mother. They both seek to turn Madeline into one of these as well.
- Psycho Electro: The Crankrats. With particular emphasis on the "psycho" part.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Poor Jack...
- Raised by Natives: Inverted with Jack. He was raised by Bantarians, and therefore does not speak Altavian, or have traditional clan markings.
- Serial Escalation: When Jack gets into the new brandy shipment, we are treated to this little gem.
Harley: “I locked that cabinet.”
Lettie: “He saw your lock and raised you a crowbar.”
Harley: “He broke the lock?!”
Lettie: “He broke the cabinet!”
- Shock and Awe: The main manifestation of a crankrats ability.
- Slave Race: The Altavians are this to the Bantarians. Maddy disapproves.
- Spirited Young Lady: Maddy.
- Stars Are Souls: The Altavians believe this.
- Symbol Swearing: Bolgrim apparently.
- Tainted Veins / Volcanic Veins: One of the effects that "cranking" has on a person's body.
- Tall Dark And Boozy: Jack.
- Through His Stomach: Maddy made a bacon sandwich to help with Jack's hangover. 18 pages later, Jack imparts some advice about how to deal with customers.
Jack: "Sandwich was good. So... we're even."
- Torture Technician: Silas really gives off this vibe. The blood on the beak of his mechanical bird doesn’t exactly help either.
- Tragic Keepsake: The photo of young Maddy and Jack. Subverted as Jack is not actually dead (Not that she knows it just yet...)
- Turned Against Their Masters: The crankrats.
- Uh-Oh Eyes: Another effect of "cranking" on the body. It can range from subtle Supernatural Gold Eyes when warming up or cooling down to full-on Glowing Eyes of Doom when fully charged.
- Valkyries From Another World
- We Can Rebuild Him / Emergency Transformation: The Crankrats were originally soldiers who had been fatally wounded.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The eponymous Crankrats. It turns out, having your internal organs scooped out and replaced by a bunch of infernal machines actually tends to drive you mad with power. Who’d have thunk it?
- World of Snark