Friendly Hostility, by Sandra Stanley, is the Spin-Off series of an earlier comic called Boy Meets Boy. It's one of those webcomics that's difficult to describe.On a basic level, it's the Slice of Life story of Fox Maharassa, an amiable, bisexual guy with a peculiar but loving family and some equally quirky friends. His best-friend-turned-boyfriend is Collin, a bitterly sarcastic preacher's son who's biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to conquer a small South American country (Venezuela, preferably). The pair are college students, and the plot is mainly concerned with their lives and personal growth. It also involves Anne (previously known only as Bootsie), a sweet girl Collin won as a servant/assistant in a poker game and who becomes a valuable friend.Other important characters are:
Nefertari: Fox's mother, would-be writer and general dispenser of sage advice
Rafi: Padma's best friend and partner in crime, also a Satanic Priest
Fatima: Fox's sardonic and scientific sister
Betsy: Collin's mother, mistress of emotional blackmail
Jerry: Collin's father, a right-wing Southern Baptist minister
Demon: Found in Fox and Collin's fridge, and probably the sanest man on board
Arath: Collin's cantankerous friend, convinced that Fox is bad for him
Leslie Rudd: Fox's ex-boss and other father figure (that is, apart from his actual father)
Sofia: Leslie's evil ex-wife
Charlotte: Sofia's daughter, Leslie's step-daughter, possibly-mad scientist (and a fashionista)
Derringer: Photograph for Leslie's newspaper, Fox' friend and Leslie's lover.
Kitty: A young lady Leslie picks up on a whim to pretend to be his girlfriend on a wacky scheme to make his ex jealous. Whether or not it continued to be fake is up in the air.
Somehow, though, the story grows from this basic setup to involve demons, kidnapping plots, conspiracies and headwear that is far more sentient than it has any right to be. Strongly arc based, it's primarily a comedy, and usually provides a punch line - but depending on the arc in operation, angst and drama can easily work their way into the plot. The cast grows from the original group to include classmates, workmates, friends-of-friends and a few supernatural entities.A warning: Friendly Hostility underwent a drastic Cerebus SyndromeMood Whiplash at the end of 2008. The series moved from the lighthearted tale of a well-intentioned klutz and his Jerk with a Heart of Gold (well, sometimes) boyfriend to a considerably sadder, more realistic/ darker tale that features a level of miscommunication never seen in the comic before, hints of a Start of Darkness and does some serious Foreshadowing before it crashes into a Bittersweet Ending. Lovers of Happily Married couples and fairytale endings take note: stop reading before November 2008. Seriously, you'll thank us later.Friendly Hostility ended in July 2009. It is currently replaced with the new comic, Other People's Business, which has already shaken the fanbase only a few weeks into its run. Because the thought of a world without Stan doing a webcomic is terrifying.Because of the mood change and the epic nature of the final few arcs, tropes that refer solely to the ending are listed separately. Needless to say, beware of spoilers.
This webcomic provides examples of:
Accentuate the Negative: Collin's best friend for most of the comic is Fox. When it comes to venting relationship problems however, he turns to Arath, meaning that Arath only really hears about Fox's failures and builds up a very negative mental image as a result.
Allergic to Routine: Fox gets bored very easily, and isn't beyond chasing chaos to keep things interesting.
Somewhere between Art Shift and Art Evolution: Some comics randomly go into a semi-chibi or more animesque style without warning, though the way it's done suggests more of an experimentation with subtle style changes than anything else, as the comic looks basically the same at the beginning and the end.
Ascended Extra: Fox's mom and dad become main characters for the most part in friendly hostility. Though they appeared in a very short appearance in one story line in Boy Meets Boy. Uncle Rafi also was just a one-time unnamed pervert oggling Harley's sister breastfeeding her kid in public in the previous comic.
Break-Out Character: Charlotte was originally meant to only appear in one page and never be seen again, as a bizarre form of Deus ex Machina to get Fox a job with Rudd. But Sandra loved drawing her so much and the readers thought her backstory in The Rant was so amusing that she became a supporting member of the cast.
Broad Strokes: Sandra has gone on the record as saying that the events of Boy Meets Boy are this, at best, with almost everything up to and including how they were first introduced being thrown right out the door.
Character Blog: Livejournals were kept for Fox, Collin and Bootsie, although they're all but defunct now.
Fox's actually became more active again around the end. Too bad by that time everyone forgot the livejournals existed and Sandra forgot the urls to them.
Character Development: For every major character, perhaps most noticeably Anne (growing independent and shedding her nickname of "Bootsie"), Collin (losing his rebellious/meglomaniac ambitions, joining the corporate world and growing to resemble his father) and Charlotte (dropping her fake French accent and pursuing her scientific ambitions). One of the comic's greatest strengths and with the Bitter Sweet Ending one of its greatest sorrows.
Character Focus: Most arcs concentrate on one or two characters in particular.
Flip Flop of God: When introducing Derringer and Rudd for the first time, she insisted that there was nothing going on between them. Later on she started posting sketches of the pairing while saying "Okay, it's a fun pairing to draw and think about, but still nothing going on." Then "Okay, so it's canon that Derringer has a crush on him, but still never gonna happen." and finally " Yeah, okay, they're screwin' like newly weds."
Generational Saga: The comic opens up with Fox's parents when they're young and just had their first kid. By the end of the comic Fox is a full grown adult, and his parents (plus Rafi) have more gray in their hair than color anymore.
Hammerspace: Where Derringer gets his signs from when he can't talk.
Happily Married: Fox and Collin until the last couple of years in the comic. Nefertari and Padma (and Rafi). Arguably Collin's parents, who seem to love each other despite their strained relationship with their son.
Heroic BSOD: most characters crashed and burned at some point before their friends picked them up again.
If It's You, It's Okay: Padma and Rafi, Rudd and Derringer. Also, to some extent Collin and Fox before Collin had his whole coming out arc.
Living Emotional Crutch: For the majority of the comic, Fox is this for Collin. He backs Collin up against his parents, gets rid of the Demon when Collin freaks out about it, takes on a job to support them both when Collin's parents cut off his college funding, and helps Collin deal with his angst. When Collin gets his own job, makes his own friends and generally learns to stand on his own two feet, he grows dissatisfied with Fox and ultimately dumps him, a la The Caretaker.
Mistaken for Racist: Collin's convinced his parents hate the Maharassa's because of their skin color. They insist it's because Fox's mom bit her.
However, the provocation which lead to the biting had, well, racist undertones. See also "If only he was a nice wholesome Christian boy!" And on applying for the Safari Sam thing, Collin takes 'wholesome' as a euphemism for 'white'.
No Accounting for Taste: Arath's view of Fox and Collin's relationship. Given that it's a view based solely on Collin's complaints and a very unfortunate incident at a party, however...
Fox himself does a Lampshade Hanging in one of the later strips: after a particularly idiotic escapade, he admits that he has poor impulse control and no common sense, but points out that Collin is a meglomaniac with entitlement issues, and the only ones who would put up with them are each other. This turned out to be a rather nasty case of "don't count your chickens before they've hatched" - the commentary suggests that the author set up that scene to foreshadow the break-up, commenting that that was a particularly stupid thing for Fox to say.
Now What?: regarding some of the side characters. For example, whether Anne starts dating Arath or Demon is explicitly left up to the reader.
Off Model: The demon's wings would vary between being tiny little things, to being large enough for Anne to use as a beach umbrella, or sometimes he wouldn't have wings at all. The author explained it as just being one of his powers.
Operation Jealousy: Leslie pretending Kitty is his girlfriend to piss off his ex-wife and her ridiculously young boyfriend of the month.
Out of Focus: Whoever's not involved in the currect storyline - Collin's parents in particular have been Out of Focus for a while, although the plot makes it clear why this is so. Surprisingly, happened to Collin and Fox themselves towards the end.
Platonic Life Partners: Anne and Arath at the end of the comic. Possibly a set-up for a Relationship Upgrade. In the epilogue Sandra left it up to the reader whether or not they entered a codepedent friendship or a romantic relationship. In either case, when Anne moved away to go to Law School Arath came with her.
The Rant: Usually just gives interesting quips and "production notes", but is sometimes essential to understanding the comic - particularly towards the end.
Twisting the Words: Arath tends to do this with anything Fox says. Collin's also good at doing this in general.
Unusual Ears: The Demon (and his brother) has donkey ears. Or bat ears.
Useless Bystander Parent: Betsy is eventually revealed to be this. Initially, she seems like the main instigator of Collin's woes, but when she finds out that her son is gay and in a relationship with Fox, it becomes clear that she does what she does to keep her husband happy, deferring to his judgement on "things like these," but hiding Collin's homosexuality so that she can continue to see her son.
Collin: "Fox? In case you haven't noticed, you're a freak magnet. Freaks love you. It's why so much weird shit happens around you... Hell, the creepy carnie that's been evesdropping us is ready to give you his life story right now."
Creepy Carnie: "'s true. You've got these eyes I could just, like, loose myself in, man."
Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Collin's parents on just about anything - from his choice of friends, to his hair, to his politics and, especially, his sexual orientation.
Tropes that refer only to story arcs from November 2008 onwards:
An Aesop: By the end of the comic, we seem to be going for "burying your issues is going to be toxic in the long run," and "Don't ignore your partner's discontent, no matter how uncomfortable it might be to deal with the problem."
Being Good Sucks: Being an idiot works for Fox, trying to do the right thing is far less successful.
Collin showcases the other side of the trope - as he gets more nihilistic and unhelpful, takes a job on the dark side and becomes increasingly manipulative and passive aggressive to Fox, his parental, social, and professional situation gets better.
Bittersweet Ending: The comic finale. Fox and Collin have pretty much lost the "best friends" angle, along with the laid-back and honest nature of their relationship. Both have taken a job that the other doesn't approve of. However, the comic closes with the pair at marriage counselling, and a quiet joke suggests that they still love each other enough to make it. Sequel comic Other People's Business, set three years later, features Fox and Collin as side characters, and reveals which side of "bittersweet" the outcome falls on.
For those who really need to know, they do end up going separate ways. Fans of the couple do not approve. In the new comic Collin (a board member of the evil corporation Creed Corp), according to Word of God, is happier, is happily married to Leon Ratterly (a hitman for Creed Corp), is reconciled with his parents who approve of his current life-style, has more friends outside of work, and all in all is a rounder person. Oh, and evil. On the other hand, Fox took the break-up hard to the point that while he didn't attempt to commit suicide it wasn't too far off initially. Now he's unhealthily obsessed with taking down Creed Corp, whom he blames (perhaps incorrectly) for his break-up with Collin, and lives in the same run down apartment building as Danny, one of the main characters in the the new comic. Not good signs for the Foxman.
To even go further with this, Sandra has said in a question that in the deep future after the end of Other People's Business, Collin would be a blatant, cult worshipping, mutilated dictator just like how he always wanted to be. While Fox is still fox. One of the last times they saw each other apparently is in passing in a grocery store, but Collin did not even recognize him.
Cerebus Syndrome: A limited case. Fox's flirtatiousness, lack of empathy and tendency to cluelessly wander into danger were originally character quirks that kept the story funny...but as the comic raced towards the finale, these traits had serious repercussions for his relationship.
Word of God is that the comic ended when it did so that the Cerebus Syndrome wouldn't deepen, in the sense that it ends with a note of hope rather than seeing Fox and Collin's relationship's eventual breakdown pre-OPB.)
Chekhov's Gunman: Leon. Literally. He looks like a one-shot character in keeping the comic's more surreal events, but he becomes a major factor in how the story of Fox and Collin plays out.
Deus Angst Machina: Some fans felt that things went downhill very quickly for a relationship that had stood up to so much previously. Others felt that the chain of events was perfectly believable.
Dramatic Irony: Arath and Collin's Mexican pals pay a visit - two of them (one of which, Chuy, is essentially a Mexican version of Fox) are now an item and expecting a baby. They wax lyrical on how they've grown up together (much like Fox and Collin did) and are still in love...meanwhile, an oblivious Fox nods agreement while Collin looks tense and upset. The reader, meanwhile, may experience a distinct kick-in-the-gut sensation.
Earn Your Happy Ending: outcome #1 suggested by the author, which would have seen Fox and Collin mending their relationship after the surprisingly sensible move of attending counselling, resulting in kids and a happy marriage. Some fans have opted to see this as the "true" ending and sidelined Other People's Business as an alternative continuity. The author herself has said this is okay by her.
Easily Forgiven: Collin's parents. Even though he claims he has more cunning motives for reconciling, Other People's Business suggests that he did actually forgive him for the two-or-three years they utterly abandoned him. Fox even lampshades this. Also Leon, although whether Collin recognises him as the carjacker is up for debate.
Foreshadowing: All of Leon's appearances hint at what happens in OPB.
Rudd is apparently psychic in this respect - his off-hand predictions about the decline of Fox and Collin's romance come true.
I Want Grandkids: Padma andf Nefi (and Rafi) are all keen for their children to have sprogs of their own. Fox would be happy to oblige (the "alternate happy ending" suggests he and Collin adopted or found a surrogate) but Fatima is not amused. She distracts them with a puppy instead, at least "until Fox has kids." Her parents+ uncle respond by spoiling the new puppy rotten and teaching it science.
Irony: Present throughout the comic, but especially notable at the very end/switchover to OPB. For example, by the end of the comic, sociable and likable Fox finds himself with only one real friend (Derringer) while anti-social Collin has built up a network for himself. An even longer reaching example occurs between the end of FH and the beginning of OPB: in Friendly Hostility Fox was keen to be a dad, but the commentary stated that Collin didn't like kids and convincing him to deal with them would be a problem. The irony strikes at the beginning of the sequel comic: Fox doesn't seem to have fatherhood on his mind at all, as he is both single and slightly paranoid...Collin, however, has a stepdaughter — he might not get on particularly well with her, but she didn't stop him marrying Leon.
Karma Houdini: Leon fares rather well for a carjacker and later, hitman. Jerry Sri'Vastra not only benefits from his estranged son's humiliation, but manages to bring said son back into the family fold and get the outcome he wanted for years: for Collin to abandon Fox. Leslie is occasionally called on his stupider moves, but he seems quite proud of them. You could even argue a case for Loveable Rogue Rafi being a Karma Houdini, a Satanist and cat-sacrificer whose lovability generally ensures his security. A general rule of the comic's ending is that the more morally ambiguous you are, the better chance of a happy outcome you have.
Mood Whiplash: The last storyline where we see Fox and Collin happy together sees Fox rescuing Collin from a failed coup attempt. They end the story arc in a light hearted manner, with Fox bringing home the guard dogs he befriended as a result. The next time we see Fox and Collin, Collin is screaming abuse at his partner for not "being there" when Collin was publicly outed as gay.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The breakfast before the Creed job interview. To Fox, it was an attempt to save Collin's soul, while to to a good part of the fanbase it was manipulation. Collin agreed with the fanbase.
No Sympathy: See page example. In short, it's...complicated.
Not Staying for Breakfast: In a strangely underhand move for a normally confrontational and overly-blunt character, Collin supposedly pulls a long-term relationship variant of this when he leaves Fox.
Poor Communication Kills: Fox and Collin manage to dodge this for most of the comic, only to fall into it towards the end when an increasingly short-tempered Collin plays "guess how I'm feeling" to the empathically challenged Fox.
Properly Paranoid: Despite the fact that The Daily Warning trio aren't the most sensible individuals on the planet, their conspiracy theories tend to be correct.
Teasing Creator: Stan always had a penchant for this, but at the end of the comic she really upped her game.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. There are...and the poor soul's probably going to need therapy themselves by the end of it.
True Companions: FH is explicitly said to be about family - "the one we're born with, and the one we make for ourselves."
Wham Episode: Collin's public "outing." A very sneaky one, this - you may not recognise it as a wham episode because it seems that the boys have taken on much worse and won. However, it's this event that sets the Cerebus Syndrome in motion.
What Could Have Been: Various ideas for plotlines were referred to in The Rant that never came to anything - sometimes they were just forgotten, sometimes the author explicitly changes her mind. The Multiple Endings may also count.
You Know What You Did: Collin to Fox. Sadly, Fox's difficulty in reading his boyfriend means that he doesn't know, and it only deepens the gap between them.
Your Cheating Heart: Collin's interaction with Leon, while he's still committed to Fox, skirts "emotional affair" territory. He makes a half-hearted protest that he's spoken for, but Leon seems to know enough that he considers their relationship dead in the water - which would suggest Collin's been telling him quite a bit about their private life.