Webcomic: Daily Grind
"Anything you're looking for, we'll help you find it. Any problem taxing you, we'll help you solve. Any question haunting you, we'll help you answer."Daily Grind is a long-running, talking animal webcomic by Michael H. Payne that's not necessarily for children and follows the adventures of the employees of Daily Grind, a "general assistance service" that operates out of a former pawn shop downtown in the port city of Gadsden.As an action/adventure series that's posted ten (10 panel Long) pages a week since the last day of February 2005, it's probably hit - or is going to eventually hit - all the Action Adventure Tropes; the artwork falls solidly into the 90% dictated by Sturgeon's Law (who says Furries Are Easier to Draw?); and the Five-Man Band of the main characters shakes out as follows:
- The Hero is the snake, Howlett Creager, the founder of Daily Grind. As the leader of the group, he usually barks out strategies and orders once a chapter, with groundbreaking results. He's also a good negotiator, having studied multiple fields in sociology. He's also a Celibate Hero, not only because his love interest is a mammal and Howlett seems uncertain how that would work physically, but also because, even though he's only five years older than the aforementioned love interest, he was her legal guardian for the five years before she turned 18. So thinking about sex with her gives him a bit of the Squick. Of course, that doesn't stop him from replacing "pitching and catching" with "warm and snuggly bear hugs", which works just as fine. A variation on the theme: Howlett's love interest is The Big Guy - or Big Gal in this case - rather than The Chick.
- The Lancer is the rabbit, D.F. Tharka. He spent 111 years working for Satan, called Scratch and in a lot of ways the Big Bad of the series, did his Heel-Face Turn after his Love Redeems moment, and has since become Daily Grind's unofficial number two. He and Gana, the object of that Love Redeems moment, also work as private detectives and are something of a Battle Couple. Tharka is a battlemage who has been relearning his old skills ever since he got away from Scratch.
- The Smart Guy is the cat, Dr. Everard Chalko. Technically an endocrinologist, he's become in practice a bit of an Omnidisciplinary Scientist, handling everything from general medicine to electronics. His love interest is newspaper reporter Alice Bryson, and since she's a canine, their relationship adds a touch of Fantastic Racism to all the Interspecies Romance going on. He is also The Speechless in the series because a gangster's bullet tore up his jaw and tongue, but he has a voice synthesizer that he types his lines into.
- The Big Guy here is The Big Gal, the squirrel Jolene. Short but stronger, faster, and more neurotic than all the other characters combined, she's an Action Girl and a not-that-cute Cute Bruiser who tries her hardest not to be a Broken Bird. She's madly in love with Howlett but is violently asexual, something Howlett is absolutely fine with. She needs to take Chalko's pills to suppress her neurosis on a regular double-daily basis, something she has trouble with. She also recently discovered on her 18th birthday that she's inherited a legacy as a Magical Girl, and she's dealing with that.
- The Chick, then, would be the moth Constance Teasdale, but she pretty much averts all the listed characteristics of The Chick. She's not The Heart, she's a Lady of War; not an example of Women Are Wiser, she's a Determined Widow, leaving the others and going off on her own like The Lancer if she thinks that's the best approach. She's almost literally a Black Widow, too, due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her husband's death, becoming an Ice Queen as a result — though she's begun defrosting lately due to the attentions of Alban Sathmont, a prince of the Fae who's been courting her.
Other tropes include:
- Berserk Button: The devil loves being called a bastard, and even tolerates being called a cowardly wimp, but call him Zebulon...
- Constance does not like being called an old lady. Note to gangsters: Do not insult a woman who has gravity-defying wings and a giant poisoned knife for a butt.
- Bigger Bad: During one of their jobs, Daily Grind unearths a creature known as the Nulla Lucis (effectively a female Lucifer), and old Scratch himself comes to them for help disposing of her.
- Nulla Lucis then one-ups Scratch by attempting to blow up the space time continuum. For kicks.
- Butterfly of Doom: Scratch does this on a regular basis, using chaotic events (he once caused a For Want of a Nail effect) and subtle half-truths (by barging into someone's conversation with magic and shouting a very stupid devil's deal while obscuring his true motives) to cause mayhem in the near future. He has tempered this art so that he can unleash a 'swarm of butterflies' effect by manipulating multiple events to get what he wants even faster. Luckily for the protagonists, this lack of a general plan means that he frequently ends up screwing himself over with his own domino effects. It's a butterfly motif, which makes sense for an insectoid.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Each of the main characters has their own serious issues that could have led them down a path of violent, sociopathic mayhem (and in one case, could have continued said mayhem). Together though, They Fight Crime, tame crime, organize charities and orphanages, solve cases, perform séances and exorcisms, make personal connections with high-royalty, rewrite the laws of magic and science, discover more interdimensional areas in half a year than most fairies do in a million years, and tell the local citizen where the nearest coffee shop is. No, they don't serve coffee.
- Howlett is actually The Chosen One of his people. Unfortunately, the past four chosen ones led the Native-American themed snake tribe down a path of misery and poverty that resulted in the total prosperity of the nearby city at the expense of the tribe. This has led to an entire childhood of insults and back-talking, which resulted in Howlett getting exiled with the death of his mother, by his father no less. It left him with an obsession to be the best chosen one that he can be, rather than an evil-themed one. In a team, he does that REALLY well as the leader and commander.
- Jolene is a tragic murderer. She literally has a brain problem that has left her pituitary gland huddled in a corner, crying. As a result, her brain always favors the lethal option when dealing with enemies. It doesn't help that her mother was a coward (and ironically a very strong shaman) and her father tried to rape her. She's shown some constraint with her murderous streak - she only killed five people before she was arrested, and the fifth guy was a DICK to the poor. Luckily, as the team's shock trooper/defender she gets the medical help she needs to stay calm instead of constantly murderous, and has a list of acceptable targets to assault and/or murder. Now if only she could remember to take her pills or fix her brain so that channeling the Psychopomp guardian doesn't rip it open...
- Tharka is the big one. An otherwise classic innocent child turned bloodthirsty mercenary with the death of his mother, he actually earned the respect and admiration of the devil. No really. The devil actually believes that Tharka's qualities include focused determination, calculating ruthlessness, and a tasty mixture of light and dark humor, EVEN after quitting his job as a mass murderer. He actually loved the job, remembered every direct kill, and never regretted killing over a million people, but after about fifty years and World War II's equivalent, the job got boring and empty - like playing Hotline Miami two weeks in a row. Then one day on a job, a sassy, sexy P.I. fly (yep.) came knocking to stop his latest kidnapping/torture, and ended up being so much more. Tharka now considers Gana to be the one light in his life that distracted him from an ocean of Role-Playing-Game blood. They also make an amazing mage team, especially after grabbing two books that act like programming language translators, but for magic.
- Chalko is the most normal of the lot. He had a great job as a high-ranking doctor. Then one day, he was shot by one of his patients, lost his voice from the three bullets in his head, and was fired by his colleagues for nonsensical reasons. Of course, now that he's a team medic, he actually likes the fact that half his tongue was shot off because it got him a challenging job with serious connections to supernatural cases, helped him crack down on his corrupt and psychotic boss, and a steady relationship/marriage with a cute reporter. But he doesn't like the 'permanently holding a weapon of mass destruction' thing.
- Constance seems to be just another rich multibillionaire trying to assuage the guilt of inheriting from her overbearing and heavily connected parents by setting up orphanages... until it turns out that she got a very special 11th anniversary present from her parents - a pheromone bomb that forced her to RAPE AND EAT HER HUSBAND ALIVE. Her parents thought that she was the best of their children, so they wanted her to make grandkids. They got their wish in a horrifying way, but Constance constantly obsesses about whether or not her parents intentionally programmed the bomb to force her into murdering her husband (she has a pheromone version of autism, so regular pheromones don't work on her). She's now remarried to a fairy prince. Who happens to be a giant spider. In the team, she's the recon / batman-with-a-stun-knife unit.
- The Illuminati: The Sons of the Black Swan was an organization created by Fremont Gadsen to protect and serve his city. It only existed for about two hundred years, but was jump-started by finding a pirate king's legacy and a VERY powerful immortal sponsor who wanted to escape his dysfunctional family. Most of Gadsen City's officials and megacorporation C.E.O.s joined up to protect and improve the city in exchange for an edge in politics. Unfortunately, by the time Howlett discovers the organization, it has rotted from the inside due to lowered hiring standards, and their leader wanted to pull off the biggest and most destructive heist in history. Howlett, the immortal sponsor, and the only violently loyal black swan Steven (see below) reform the organization after killing every member who screwed Gadsen over.
- Godiva Fur: Jolene is a nudist, but her fur is so fluffy that there's little difference between a fur coat and fur period. Since this is a furry webcomic, laws against nudism are extremely relaxed for people who don't need clothes to follow societal laws; the justice department doesn't even blink an eye when she shows up to her pardon for second-degree murder completely naked.
- As for the Fae, they consider their "cloak" (a matrix of Fae energy that surrounds and shields the user) their clothing.
- Lawful Stupid: Steven Aramis was adopted as a child by the Sons of the Black Swan and has devoted his life to following their by-laws — even when it turned out that, to follow the by-laws, he had to kill all the other members of the group.... Later subverted the "stupid" part when he dropped the necessary hints to the group's new leader such that the by-laws would be changed before Steven got around to killing the members/ex-members who Steven felt were actually innocent of actual wrong-doing. He's actually quite sensible when it comes to stuff that has nothing to do with the Sons of the Black Swan, but becomes an instant Knight Templar with detailed references of the by-laws whenever someone dares to question said by-laws. Seeing as how the by-laws punish minor infractions with death, this happens more than it should.
- Loan Shark: Scratch's Modus Operandi. Most of the magic he's obtained as THE Devil has come from power-hungry mages who never realized what it was they were giving up. One character lampshades this magic-as-commerce loan as stacking pennies: it takes careful consideration to prevent your magic from disintegrating, and even if you try really hard all you've got is worth less than two dollars.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Howlett is usually the calm, collected pacifist... and then Toch tries to drive his girlfriend insane by making her kill her friends, and she ended up in a coma. Cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Lampshaded by almost everyone.
- Our Fairies Are Different: Since all the characters are talking animals, the Fae are, of course, giant glowing spiders.
- And the Shoemaker's Elves are centipedes!
- And the Banshees are... something, something, pyramid heads?
- Webcomic Time: The first 4 pages of the comic were posted 28 Feb 2005, and that's the day in the comic as well. it has taken over nine years of real-time to get to the end of Christmas Eve, 2005.