Webcomic: Metal Phone Mouse
Metal Phone Mouse
is a webcomic that spawned from an RPG thread on a Swedish forum site.
Designed and drawn by Darren ‘Hiddeninshadow’ Coleman, written by Mhairi ‘Maria-Cells’ Parr and with a little humorous input from someone referred to as ‘the Pieman’, the webcomic is based on a public roleplaying endeavour on the Swedish gaming site spogg.com (specifically, this
thread). All of the major characters – and many of the minor or incidental ones – are based on characters from the original thread, as roleplayed by an eclectic group of forum-users from around the world (although mostly from the USA, Canada, Ireland and the UK).
The titular organisation of unclear purpose – although officially referred to as a mercenary group – consists of a Ragtag Bunch
of supernatural or otherwise-abnormal beings
who took it upon themselves to uphold the local Masquerade
, take out dangerous demons and other supernatural nasties and, beyond that, basically just hang around in their huge HQ building. Disbanded some time previous to the comic’s beginning, the first arc deals with MPM being reformed when three of its original members – demon-hunting mercenary Shadow, vampire Chip and zombie-killing Badass Normal
Pieman the Third – eventually put aside their differences and return to the base with two new recruits – master conman Brass and his protégé/Morality Pet
Squiggle – in tow, and the aim of recovering a collection of Shadow’s swords
stolen and sold on by Brass, which all have the unfortunate side-effect of turning people insane.
From there, a series of plot-twists have rendered things a little more complicated
As of February 2013
, the series has been officially declared sadly Orphaned
This webcomic contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Are they still looking for those swords?
- Double-subverted. At least some of them really are.
- Action Girl: Chip.
- Alchemy Is Magic: Shadow is shown doing some 'alchemy', which looks like a combination of magic and Tesla-esque science, and more-or-less admits it to be a form of magic.
- All There in the Manual: A lot of information about the characters (and their predecessors) is in the character bios but not the main comic.
- Ambiguously Human: All of the MPM members look human (except the cat). Chip is confirmed to be a Vampire, and Brass and Squiggle seem to be human – although Squiggle has metal hands via which she can manipulate computers. Nobody pretends to know for sure about Shadow, and Pieman keeps insisting he’s human but the rest of them don’t seem to buy it.
- Animorphism: Eva is an Inverted Trope of this – an animal who spends her time as a human. Shadow and Maria are (or were) straight examples according to their bios. The demon Narinia is either this played straight or inverted depending on your viewpoint.
- Anti-Hero: Shadow’s openly described as a psychopath, casually kills a lot of people and acts a bit of a jerk to most of his friends, but he’s still basically a good person. Brass is a good person who happens to be a thief and conman.
- Arch-Enemy: Chip implies that former MPM member Legit was either this or The Rival to Shadow. Considering Legit’s bio lists his interests as including "genocide", it’s entirely possible he left the company and became Shadow’s personal Big Bad.
- Author Avatar: Since the comic grew out of an RP thread, pretty-much every character is an avatar for someone somewhere. Shadow, Pieman and the occasionally-appearing Maria are the avatars of the actual creators of the webcomic, however.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Shadow is both the leader and, by implication, the best fighter. Chip is technically the heir to the vampire throne and is shown to be more badass than any other vampire. The trope is, however, subverted in regards to Chip's brother, the Vampire King.
- Awesome Mccoolname: Shadow. Pieman the Third. And pretty-much everyone else has at least one badass-sounding alias.
- Badass Longcoat: Shadow and Brass both.
- Badass Normal: Brass and (probably) Pieman.
- Baleful Polymorph: Narinia.
- Big Brother Instinct: Brass is very protective of Squiggle.
- Big Good: Looks like Pandora may be this.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Pieman.
- Broken Ace: Shadow is an excellent fighter, skilled mercenary and demon-hunter, capable alchemist and (according to supplementary material) can occasionally turn into a wolf. He’s also a misanthropic emotional wreck with an abrasive personality, tragic backstory and terrible judgement when it comes to allying with demons.
- But Not Too Foreign/Fake Mixed Race: With a name like 'Sana Sarif', one imagines Squiggle must have Malaysian, Arabic or Hindi origins. Nonetheless, she is drawn really, really white. Then again, thinking about it, so is everyone. Everyone human, anyway.
- Canada, Eh?: Pieman appears to be Canadian. So yes, so far as MPM goes, Canadians are weird.
- Cats Are Mean: The stray cat that becomes a de facto member of MPM has a tendency to scratch Shadow and steal Pieman’s bacon. It’s also a demon.
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: In Procrastinated Cavalry.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: The plot does this kind of thing frequently.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The cat. Also Pandora.
- Christmas Episode: The comic deliberately broke schedule to release this on Christmas Day 2011. For 2012, they did a series of daily strips which between them parodied The coming of Saint Nicholas.
- Colour Coded Characters: Every main character is associated with a different colour (roughly: indigo for Shadow, red for Chip, orange for Pieman, brown for Brass, purple for Squiggle, pink for Eva, red-on-black for Pandora green-on-black for Nari, reddish-orange-on-black for Red Tail the Fluffy, white-on-black for the demon, grey for everyone else) which tends to feature highly in their wardrobe and in which all their speech is rendered (making it easier to work out who's talking off-panel).
- Creepy Doll: Former MPM member Legit was a living one of these.
- Cute Little Fang: Chip has at least one, probably two. It’s hard to tell from the art style.
- Cute Monster Girl: Chip.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Some of the demons are good.
- Deadpan Snarker: Everyone, but Shadow and Pieman are the worst. Or best.
- Destination Defenestration: The result of angering Chip.
- Dhampyr: Chip joined MPM in order to kill one.
- Extra-Strength Masquerade: The world is full of demons and angels and vampires and magicians all fighting each other, with nobody attempting to cover-up except MPM itself (which disbanded some time ago) and yet nobody notices?
- Fanservice: The author seems to have a fondness for using his female characters for this, although mostly not in the comic itself. Possibly lampshaded by the title of Mandatory Service.
- Fighting Irish: Shadow is both confrontational and (apparently) Irish.
- Friendly Neighbourhood Vampires: Chip.
- Five-Man Band: MPM has all the roles, but they aren’t always split evenly.
- Fourth Wall Observer: Pieman.
- Grey and Grey Morality: The nicest character is probably Squiggle... who is an apprentice con artist and technically part of a mercenary ring. Everyone else falls right in the grey.
- Happily Adopted: Eva.
- The Heart: Squiggle.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Ardal the Destructor is humanoid. His 'wife' looks like a giant dragon. There is no implication that either of them can change their size or shape. Uh...
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Brass can shoot projectiles out of the air.
- Improbable Weapon User: Pieman. Not only does he have a habit of hitting people with pies, he has also been known to use a toaster as an Epic Flail.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Hayliana, MPM’s old “guard dog”.
- Killer Rabbit/Fluffy the Terrible: Demons have a habit of taking cute little animal forms, such as Nari and Red Tail the Fluffy.
- Kudzu Plot: The plot does this, too.
- Leet Lingo: Legit apparently spelt his own name "L3g17".
- Lightning Bruiser: Chip.
- Living Toy: Legit, one of MPM’s former members, is (or was) a living doll.
- Loveable Rogue: Brass.
- Magic Realism: The webcomic is set in this kind of world.
- Manly Tears: According to Maria-Cells, this is the natural reaction to Metal Phone Mouse going on hiatus.
- The Mole: Subverted. The cat was actually working for Shadow in a double-bluff... thing.
- Morality Pet: Squiggle to Brass, Eva to Shadow.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Ardal the Destructor.
- Nice Hat: Whatever that thing on Brass’s head is, it’s awesome.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Red Tail does it here.
- Origins Chapter: So far, there's been one for Chip and one for the cat. (Warning: Links lead to spoilers).
- Orphaned Punchline: Doubling as a Shout-Out
- Our Banshees Are Louder: Seemingly averted. Banshees are just another type of demon, and they don't even seem to be very loud.
- Our Demons Are Different: It seems to be implied that some demons are the standard fallen-angel variety, but at least one featured prominently in the comic is actually a scientific experiment Gone Horribly Right. And another is a cat.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Some of them breathe ice instead of fire, for example.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Chip can do something called ‘flitting’ – basically, moving too fast to see – and is mentioned to be abnormally strong. She varies in how human she looks – sometimes her fangs disappear, and other times her eyes go red. It is eventually revealed that Vampires in the MPM universe are technically demons.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Shadow and Maria are mentioned in supplementary materials to be – or have been – capable of assuming wolf form through magic. Their adopted child Eva, being a wolf cub in human form, is effectively an Inverted Trope of this.
- Painting the Medium: The characters' different voices are portrayed as different letter colours when they speak. Also, demonic characters tend to have black speech bubbles instead of white.
- Pie in the Face: A favourite move of Pieman.
- Pink Means Feminine: Everything Eva owns in Pink. Everything.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: What are MPM again? Mercenaries or something?
- Playing with Fire: Spike, a former MPM member.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Pieman.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: MPM
- Real Men Wear Pink: Pieman has a pink apron for when he's cooking.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Chip's eyes go red when she loses her temper.
- The Rival: Chip implies former MPM member Legit was either this or an Arch-Enemy to Shadow. It is worth noting that back when Metal Phone Mouse was an RP thread, the players of Legit and Shadow considered themselves rivals.
- Sealed Evil in a Teddy Bear: Narinia the demon was trapped in cat form.
- Shock and Awe: Squiggle.
- Team Chef: Pieman.
- Technopath: Squiggle.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Chip is the tomboy to Squiggle's girly-girl. In backstory, however, she used to be the girly-girl to Spike's tomboy.
- Trademark Favourite Food: Pieman loves bacon. So, it turns out, does his cat.
- Try to Fit That on a Business Card: Goban the Sage, Defender of Conscience, Protector of Shadow, Guardian of the Forest, Healer of the Sick, Master of the Wilds. But his preferred name is Red Tail the Fluffy.
- Visual Pun: It's hard to make out, but the website header has a chemical structure in the background (clearer picture here). That's the structure of 2,5-dimethoxy-4-propoxyamphetamine, a psychedelic drug commonly known as MPM.
- The Watson: Squiggle, AKA The Most Interesting Character in the World.
- Weapon of Choice: Swords for Shadow, guns for Brass, pies for Pieman.
- White Gloves: Squiggle never takes hers off except when using her powers.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Chip’s real name is given as ‘Chelsea’ by her vampire family. Squiggle is actually called Sana Sarif, and Brass is actually Brassun Grathe (although, in fairness, ‘Brassun’ is a bit of an odd name anyway.) However, that still leaves Shadow and Pieman the Third.
- Who You Gonna Call?: MPM
- Word Salad Title: The title of the webcomic is a holdover from the original RP thread, which was named after the two nearest items to Maria-Cells at the time – a metallic telephone and a computer mouse.
- World of Badass: The webcomic is set in this kind of world.
- World of Snark: The webcomic is set in this kind of world.