Webcomic / Drugs And Wires

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Mostly drugs, some wires.
“Low tech. Lower lives.”

Drugs and Wires is a weekly Cyber Punk webcomic launched in 2015. It follows Dan, a bitter, burned-out VR operator and serial addict trying to put his life back together after a near-death experience with the mysterious Skullfuck worm.

D&W takes place in Unylsk, the dysfunctional capital of Stradania, some time after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thanks to the magic of Alternate History, Unylsk is a mixture of cyberpunk cliches and actual '90s technology, with an added dose of Russian misery.

Drugs and Wires contains examples of:

  • Alternate History: Explicitly set in an alternate 1995 where "everything went wrong." Exactly where things went wrong hasn't been revealed yet.
    • We get our first glimpse at the differences from our timeline in Issue 4 with a mention of "the protectorate of Hong Kong", implying that Hong Kong is under British control in this timeline.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Some guys in the VR scene hold a wake for several victims of Skullfuck.exe, including Dan. Apparently he never answers his e-mail, and the "epitaph" on the worm's website can't tell the difference between genuine kills and near-death experiences.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Let's just say that Lin's "Kutting Edge Klinik" wouldn't pass any sort of health inspections.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: The Dreamspace implants used by the operators, including Dan.
  • B-Side Comics: Started off as a series of loosely connected DeviantArt and Tumblr strips, which were recently republished as "D&W One-Shots". Most of these are no longer canon, but offer extra insight into the characters and their relationships.
  • The Cameo: Domino and Marcus from Hell(p) can be seen in the Icebox club on page 19 of the second chapter. Likewise, Dan has made an appearance in Hell(p) as a lemonade salesman.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Unylsk's infamous "suicide bridge" is mentioned several times and it seems like just another background detail to make Stradania even more depressing - that is, until Dan attempts to commit suicide by leaping off of it.
  • Crapsack World: The city of Unylsk is a dictionary-perfect example of this... so much so that the name literally translates to "Depressing City" in Russian.
    • The entire world fits the trope, really. Stradania may be a beacon of crapsack, but everywhere else isn't much better either. In the US, Corrupt Corporate Executive types run wild and abuse their employees with wild abandon, the Third World is struggling with a pandemic of an untreatable leprosy-like disease which can only be prevented (maybe) by preemptive amputations, and most of the world's industry is handled by sweat shops ran by the aforementioned Corrupt Corporate Executive types. Seriously, what do you expect from a comic whose Tag Line is "Everything Went Wrong"?
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Marilyn Hope-Fokker, CEO of Hope-Fokker Capital Ventures. She's essentially a heartless modern robber baron who treats her employees as useful resources at best and cattle at worst, travels with bodyguards in riot gear and runs sweatshops. Her Establishing Character Moment is holding a "save-your-ass bake-off" for the employees of one of her factories, before summarily firing all of them for being ineffective and leaving on a blimp while her riot police beats up the protesting workers.
    • Ted Wexler, the head of Synacon (the company that developed Dreamspace) is a smaller example. While not nearly as ruthless or powerful as Hope-Fokker, he's every bit as callous and predatory as she is, using his power to abuse and sexually harass his employees. He's apparently also quite racist, if calling Troy "tiger lady" is anything to go by.
  • Corrupt Politician: This is the only kind of politician in Stradania. According to Lin, the sports minister is hawking steroids to Unylsk's football teams and the finance minister runs a counterfeiting business from his dacha.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Zig-Zagged. Weather varies with relatively realism, but the lowest episodes of Dan's life are always accompanied by dreary, depressing rainfall.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dan through and through.
  • Electronic Eyes: Lin's left eye is a blank camera prosthetic. Vulture capitalist Marilyn Hope-Fokker has cyber-eyes that even change colors in accordance with her mood.
  • Expy: Dan is a washed up former hacker who sank deeply into drugs after losing his ability to access cyberspace. Lin is a crazy cyborg with scalpels in her fingers. Sound familiar? And its been noted in comic.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Orthodox Church has a steady grip in Unylsk, and their technophobia contributes much to the Fantastic Racism against cyborgs. Midway into the story they manage to have the government ban CD-ROM for being "ungodly".
  • Hope Spot: An especially brutal one occurs in Issue 4. Dan is forcibly enrolled on drug rehab courses, where one of the instructors turns out to be his ex-girlfriend Eve, who he hasn't seen since his Dreamspace accident. Just when things start to look like their relationship might eventually recover, Eve is driven out of the course for objecting to the unethical practices of the head instructor, without leaving a contact for Dan. This is what finally prompts Dan to attempt suicide.
  • Ironic Name: Progress Bridge is where the population of Unlysk goes to commit suicide.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Vlad may be a Grade-A asshole, but when Dan calls him out on the terrible eulogy he delivered in Dan's "honor", Vlad points out that all anyone really knows about Dan is that he's a misanthropic drug-addict and he did the best he could with what he had to work with.
  • The Mafiya: Anything even remotely functional in Stradania is guaranteed to be run by organized crime syndicates, including tourism, postal services, and politics.
  • Meaningful Name: Marilyn Hope-Fokker does exactly that.
  • Mega Corp.: Hope-Fokker Capital Ventures deals in everything from factory equipment to VR to sexbots. They hold factories from the USA to South Korea and their CEO travels around with bodyguards clad in riot gear.
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: Apparently, belief that the moon landings were faked has become so universal that "the US actually landed the moon in the 60's" is considered the crackpot conspiracy theory.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Both the main comic and the one-shots imply that Dan is a classic coffee achiever.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Stradanian government is hideously bureaucratic, a remnant carried over from the Soviet Union. Deliberately exploited in the case of the cyborg registration process, which is specifically engineered to be as slow and obstructive as humanly possible to discourage people from getting implants.
  • The Plague: The Black Rot, a nigh-untreatable infection with leprosy-like symptoms, except much, much more virulent. The amputations practiced by the doctors in an effort to stop its spread were what kickstarted the booming prosthetic industry of the setting. It's mostly supressed in the West by the story's present, but it's still a persistent problem in Third World countries.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: All of Dan's VR buddies presumed him dead after the Skullfuck incident. This was partially on Dan himself since he went so far off the grid that he never even answered any emails.
  • Ruritania: Stradania. While Unylsk is grey and depressing, but still reasonably modern for a post-Soviet city, the country is full of superstitious, babushka-clad peasants jaded by years of Soviet "progress" who will shoot cyborgs on sight.
  • Schizo Tech: There's cyborgs on the street corner and the government's worried about VR addiction, but everybody still uses floppy disks and tools around in Soviet-era automobiles.
  • Sigil Spam: The circular "Dreamspace" logo is seen in loading screens, graffiti, clothing, and decorations. Dan even has it tattooed on his head.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: To say that this comic is cynical would be an understatement. The feeling of utter hopelessness sets in at about Page 2 and never, ever lets up.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Dan has no qualms pointing out that one of the Skullfuck worm's victims wasn't such a big loss for the community as Nate was suggesting.
  • To Absent Friends: Vlad organized an informal wake in a local cyber bar in memory of the worm's victims, but the mournful nature of the event doesn't stop him from hitting on ladies.
  • Vaporwave: This is the primary aesthetic of the Dreamspace. The headquarters of Synacon in Florida also carry the look; fitting, seeing as they developed Dreamspace in the first place.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Marilyn Hope-Fokker travels around in a blimp for some reason.


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