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Trawn, Shroomy, NJ, and Aerynn will bring peace to Cyberspace...eventually.
Welcome to the internet...of the future! It's evolved beyond its dimensions and become a fully immersive virtual world! Anyone can log onto this world from anywhere and take on any form or shape! Some only come to check their email or bank account...others spend much of their lives here. Some find jobs. Some find love. Some get robbed. Some get scammed. Some get ruined. And some do the ruining. The truth is that, no matter how advanced things get, the same problems of the past exist in the future.
Peter Paltridge, the host of Platypus Comix, created Electric Wonderland in 2007. Unlike the other flagship series, it has a strong reliance on continuity and connecting events. Set in a futuristicnote Word of God says each comic takes place approximately 100 years after Peter wrote it, Internet-based City of Adventure called "Nettropolis", the comic focuses mainly on the staff of the Nettropolis Free Press, which originally consisted of Intrepid Reporter Eileen "Trawn" Peccadillo, pompous ninja NJ, naive painter Shroomy, and unpredictable Magical Girl Aerynn Arlia. Although Trawn hopes to end corruption with their independent newspaper, the comic spends more time exploring the comedic and dramatic potential of a community evolved from Cyberspace.
This comic provides examples of:
Accentuate the Negative: "The Nameless Decade," in which Lululu (an outside agent of Trawn's paper) takes a field trip to the Nettropolis Museum and learns about how society had decayed from 2000-2009, features this trope when discussing television, movies, and music.
Action Girl: Trawn's friend Natasha Wing, who overthrows corruption by working for the Nettropolis Police Department.
Affectionate Parody: "The Time That People Forgot" has a three-page opening modeled after Disney's "I'm No Fool" shorts starring Jiminy Cricket.
Alliterative Family: Natasha and her parents, antivirus software developer Nathaniel Wing and his wife Nina Wing (CEO of Wing Antivirus Corporation), all have first names that begin with "N".
Art Evolution: The first issue was illustrated by one of Peter's friends, Jesse Barboza. Since he did not sign on to illustrate successive issues, Peter had to ease the characters into his usual style without deviating too far from the original designs. Compare this scene◊ from Trawn and NJ's first meeting to the cover◊ Peter added to the first issue in 2009, to this promotional drawing◊ added to the Platypus Comix character bio page in 2010, to the last panel◊ of 2011's "Day of Fools".
Break the Cutie: Shroomy's flashback in "Wings" has her fail to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a carnie for Art Lawsey's Imaginarium after it goes belly-up. She also loses her boyfriend Parker over the course of the fourth through sixth comics.
Brick Joke: In "The New Adventures of the Nettropolis Narvel," Narvel asks Girl Friday, "Will you marry me?" right before entering a world in which he never became a superhero, nor developed superpowers. On the last page of the comic, Friday tells Narvel, "By the way...the answer is yes!" Narvel needs a while to remember why Friday said that.
Brutal Honesty: After Trawn and NJ read a comic from Shroomy in "Valentine's Day Masssacre", Trawn tells Shroomy that it was a nice try, but not what she was looking for. NJ, who had already scolded Shroomy for not having a clever enough joke, adds, "Also, it wasn't a nice try!"
At the beginning of the Oregon Trail test in "The Time That People Forgot", NJ purchases a piano for his group so they could have something to dispose later when the time comes to lighten the load. Later, he accidentally crashes his group's wagon into the river, so they use the piano as a backup vehicle.
Christmas Episode: "Inevitable Christmas Adventure", which (unlike most of Platypus Comix's "Kristmas Klassics") ties into the series' main continuity; Aerynn reveals NJ's real name (Nate), and some scenes set up a sub-plot regarding the disappearance of Parker.
Circular Reasoning: According to "Day of Fools," 4chan memes get repeated by everyone because they're humorous, are considered humorous because they got repeated by everyone, and got repeated by everyone because they're humorous.
Digital Piracy Is Evil: "Shrooming with Shroomy" has some scenes that promote this mindset while NJ, Aerynn, and Shroomy circulate tapes that NJ's grandfather made of shows and movies unavailable for streaming. NJ and Aerynn can't decide whether or not to adopt this attitude, since they know piracy has become illegal, but their business also prevents works of the past from becoming forever lost from the public. They stop circulating the tapes at the end of the comic, after Nathaniel Wing announces that he found a different company to release official copies of the shows and movies his wife bought streaming rights to, then stashed in a vault.
Doomsday Clock: Aerynn's flashback in "Wings" ends by showing a clock reading 11:54 AM while she wonders if something might go wrong soon. The clock reappears in Shroomy's and NJ's flashbacks, reading 11:59AM both times. It finally reaches 12:00 PM during Natasha's flashback, when a virus nearly wipes out everyone in Nettropolis.
Eating the Eye Candy: The new NFP cartoonist in "Valentine's Day Massacre" admittedly can't draw, and doesn't even want to become their cartoonist (he only enters their domain because he got lost). Despite this, he still gets the job, because he catches the eyes of Trawn, Aerynn, and Shroomy.
Trawn: I've always dreamed of being a reporter, but not the kind the few conglomerate-controlled news outlets are currently looking for today! I want to print what they don't let me! I want to dig into the dirt and expose scandals at the highest levels of power! Nettropolis Free Press will launch a new era of hard-hitting journalism, unafraid of offending investors and losing advertisers! Within three years every corrupt member of government will fear us! That's basically it. What do you think?
NJ: I'm just...here to find a job. I think you need someone to talk to!
Follow in My Footsteps: Natasha subverted this by studying about antivirus protection, then entering the police force instead of her parents' business. However, she also served as spokesman for the antivirus software.
Foregone Conclusion: If you already read the comics released before the flashback-loaded "Wings", you'll come in already knowing that Natasha will join the Nettropolis Police Department, and that the comic will not have a Kill 'em All ending. You'll probably also at least assume that Shroomy and NJ won't achieve their respective career goals.
Halfway Plot Switch: Seems to have become the norm for comics released in 2010 or later. "Wings," in particular, seems to do this three times: From Aerynn sensing impending doom, to Shroomy's lifelong dream getting shattered, to NJ's optimism getting shattered, to Natasha fulfilling her lifelong dream (that story takes up more than half of the comic).
After NJ discovers in "WTF" that Suē is a Consummate Liar who simultaneously carried out several affairs, he sends chat logs of conversations between her and her flings to 4chan, in hopes that they can stop her from unfairly landing a job at a video game company. However, he becomes labeled as a chauvinist who only praises female-created video games if the creators make out with him (never mind the fact the NFP didn't even publish a review of Suē's game), then tries to prevent those women from rising up the corporate ladder.
Hypocritical Humor: Trawn ends up in a domain containing nothing but amalgamations of pop culture references during one part of "Day of the Fools", causing her to complain about Internet comedians who uncleverly acknowledge popular media all the time. Never mind that her own creator made the references she criticized while unknowingly following his script.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Trawn can occasionally seem single-minded and forceful in her movement for her newspaper's success, but she does show sympathy for Aerynn (due to her rejections from society) and Lululu (due to her household's state of poverty).
Late-Arrival Spoiler: Lululu having a mermaid tail came out of left field to people who read "LuLo" when it first came out, but people who read her bio (written about a year after her debut) beforehand won't feel too surprised.
Aerynn chimes in during the last panel of "The New Adventures of the Nettropolis Narvel" (see Schrödinger's Butterfly below), ensuring that the comic doesn't completely ignore the series' main characters.
Never My Fault: NJ refuses to claim responsibility for starting another Gamergate in "WTF". Even after becoming publicly revealed as the one responsible for informing 4chan about Suē's affairs, he claims she deserves to get punished for her infidelity and lies.
"WTF" applies this treatment to several people involved with video game development and media.
Nobody Poops: "The Time That People Forgot" implies this when Jiminy Cricket mentions that no one in Nettropolis has to log out to perform bodily functions. Although, the series did establish early on that denizens could eat, drink, and poop with their avatars.
Noodle Incident: NJ describes several when detailing Aerynn's abilities to Natasha at the end of "The Search For Parker".
Number Two: "Into Thin Aerynn" sees Trawn entrust Aerynn to keep the NFP domain under control in her absence. NJ gets chosen to supervise during a time when neither Trawn nor Aerynn can.
Odd-Shaped Panel: The taxi ride that Trawn, NJ, and Shroomy take in the first issue is drawn with tilted panels to simulate the bumpiness felt as the driver struggles to make his steering wheel reappear after a glitch occurs.
Off Model: Sometimes the women fluctuate between wearing lipstick and not wearing lipstick.
The One That Got Away: During a discussion in "Into Thin Aerynn" about how abruptly online "friendships" can end, NJ recalls how his high school sweetheart broke his heart by abandoning the school and their most frequent social media networks without a trace.
Only Known by Their Nickname: The characters page includes the real names of Trawn (Eileen), NJ (Nate), and Torro (Trevor), as well as those of five characters who already use their real names in Nettropolis, but lists that Shroomy's real name is unknown.
Put on a Bus: Parker went absent around the time the events of "Inevitable Christmas Adventure" occurred, though Shroomy expected him to return eventually.
The Bus Came Back: As detailed in "The Search For Parker," Parker returned to the Nettropolis Free Press domain after two Comic-Book Time months (seven months passed in Real World Time), only to borrow $50 from Shroomy. Aerynn then advised Shroomy to dump him so she could find a worthier boyfriend. The only appearance Parker made since then occurred when he made a disposable cameo in "WTF".
Shroomy's flashback in "Wings" details her forming a life-long dream to work at the Imaginarium, only to find it closing down by the time she becomes old enough to work. Word of God says this was inspired by Peter forming a childhood dream of writing newspaper comics, only to find newspapers going bankrupt by the time he became old enough to work.
It's not hard to draw parallels between the story of Barry Dootmayer, from "Shrooming with Shroomy," and the then-recent shutdown of Megaupload.
"WTF" essentially retells Gamergate and the cancellation of Game_Jam in comic form, with some names changed.
Trawn deliversone in "WTF" to those responsible for starting another Gamergate. WTF refuses to agree, until Aerynn clubs them.
Trawn: Suē, you're not innocent! NJ, you're not innocent either! The rest of you are a thousand times worse! Yes, Suē has done some bad things! But so have the rest of you! So has everyone! The truth is, you can dig up dirt on anyone and make them look bad! If you really think this kind of mob persecution is justice, then you'd better be prepared to receive it! Any one of you could face this kind of treatment! No one deserves to be persecuted!! No one!!
Rule of Funny: Personified in Aerynn Arlia, Electric Wonderland's Magical Girl character with no apparent limits. Aerynn can literally do anything at any time, as long as it's amusing — usually with NJ as the victim.
After Shroomy asks Aerynn if hacking into the Nonspecific Supply Co. database in "The Search For Parker" will prove dangerous, she answers, "It'll be Dangeresque..." Some Homestar Runner fans overhear and promptly decide to record this Shout-Out at the Homestar Wiki. (The comic soon did get mentioned there.)
Skintone Sclerae: Comics written from 2009-2010 have the NFP founders rendered with eyes containing off-white portions surrounding the pupils. Peter explained that adding a white portion didn't look good to him unless he could shape it into a perfect circle, but it didn't seem fitting to give these characters eyes with shades that matched their skin either.
Speechbubbles Interruption: At the beginning of "In The Zone," word balloons from a conversation between NJ, Trawn, and Aerynn overlap the boxes recapping the comic's Cyberspace setting and main characters. Justified in that the boxes simply repeat information from comics the reader probably already read by this point.
Spiritual Successor: One of the Platypus Comix books, containing stories Peter deemed too old and/or subpar to keep on his website, reportedly contains an unreleased Cyberspace-themed comic from the short-lived series Cocktails and Dreams.
Take a Third Option: "WTF" ends with NJ recommending Suē get professional help for her constant lying. Fearing that the video game community would shun her if she admitted having psychological issues, she starts feeling compelled to choose between following his advice, or changing the subject. Instead, she punches NJ for making her affairs publicly known.
Tempting Fate: NJ's flashback in "Wings" of working in a department store includes a moment of his boss accusing him of alcoholism and sexism. NJ mentally wishes he were dead, then catches a virus one second later, that could very well have killed him (and everyone else in Nettropolis) if not for Natasha and Nathaniel Wing sending a cure.
Shroomy gets one in "Deviantaaargh". After she goes from woefully overlooked on deviantART, to receiving two consecutive Daily Deviations, ( both of which came as a result of Aerynn's hacking) to falling from a brief and high jump in fame, Moth-Grrl (one of deviantART's most popular artists of the time) still puts Shroomy on her friend list and congratulates her achievement.
Trawn arguably got one in "LuLo". The Nettropolis Free Press failed to become more famous because of the other reporters referring to her as an "anonymous informant", but she at least reunited with Natasha, and the two of them and Lululu got to capturethe realbomber because of Trawn's Eureka Moment.
Tuckerization: Word of God says when defining the character of Trawn, Peter decided to model her in part after his friend Eileen Cruz, who founded Toon Zone. Cruz and Trawn have the same first name as a result. Also, Trawn's last name, Pecadillo, rhymes with Eileen Cruz's maiden name, Delgadillo.
Wham Line: What Natasha says in the third-to-last panel of "The Search For Parker", after NJ tries to turn Aerynn in:
You wanna fool someone, call a rookie next time. I'm rank AAA. I've fought at least a hundred magicians and taken a history course on thousands more. And I've never seen the fantasy you just cooked up. Ever. I've also studied the physics code for the Internet and over half the powers you told me are impossible. IM. POSSIBLE.
"What Now?" Ending: "Into Thin Aerynn" has one. Even though the staff of the NFP gets Aerynn back, it still seems uncertain how much time they have left until she gets arrested. Trawn has to bear the guilt of acting secretive towards one friend (Natasha) to ensure the safety of another (Aerynn). Natasha might also have to toss Trawn in jail if she ever finds her harboring a lawbreaker. Plus, it seems possible that the animosity between Aerynn and NJ has finally started cooling down after her return.
Zeerust: Sometimes, characters use technology dated by 2000s standards (such as Betamax tapes). Peter reportedly hopes that this will prevent any references that will date in the future from sticking out.