Max:"I'm starting to think crazy is the norm in Mayview."
Paranatural is a supernatural humour webcomic made by Zack Morrison, a.k.a. MidnightTelevision.It stars a cynical young lad named Maxwell Puckett who just moved into a town called Mayview with his eccentric father and little sister Zoey. It soon turns out that the town is haunted by ghosts and other supernatural creatures, which only a handful of people, Max included, can see. The comic derives a lot of humor from over the top facial expressions, making mundane situations and actions seem far more awesome than they should be, and the fact that almost everyone in Mayview is crazy in one way or another.After a hectic first day of school, Max finds himself joining the (Paranatural) Activity Club, whose purpose is to keep paranormal activity around the school in check, and to help young spectrals like Max understand and control their powers. Mostly they just mess around though.The comic updates on Mondays and Fridays, and can be found here.A fan-made, fan-operated forum for the comic can be found here.The comic was first updated on ComicFury.
This comic shows examples of the following tropes:
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: According to Isaac, a person can develop spectral powers if they (at least) had a near-death experience, prolonged exposure to supernatural phenomena, or a diet obnoxiously high in citrus.
The comic starts off with rough colorless pencil art and occasional gradients, switched to being fully coloured and shaded on the ninth page, then finally the author switched to using a brush pen for lineart on the 58th page (the lines are heavy and rough here because "this was the first page I drew with a brush pen and I could not control that beast").
Many characters had some noticeable redesign as the comic went on.
Bizarrchitecture: The base of the as-of unnamed organization Spender is part of. Flying elevators, multicolored floors, and the the whole structure appears to be shaped like a corkscrew. Of course, the fact that it's a sort of communal dream that all the members visit when they go to sleep means that it probably doesn't have to adhere to the fire code.
The Bully: Johnny is this trope cranked up until the knob snaps off. He's not even all that mean, it's just that beating people up is his base state of existence. At least a few times it's shown he needs to punch the crap out of things (or people) to keep from going crazy.
Butt Monkey: Isaac, despite that he says he's the strongest of The Activity Club.
Broken Masquerade: Johnny's seen Max and Isaac use their powers while pretending to be out cold.
Chekhov's Gunman: P.J. and Lefty both make easy-to-disregard appearances in the first chapter before making proper debuts in the second.
Chekhov's Armory: Re-reading the comic will reveal a truly staggering amount of continuity- for example, you can see Ed receiving Isabel's message in the background of one panel, the Doctopi make an appearance before they're explained, and passing mention is given all the time to things that are elaborated on later.
Defeat Means Friendship: To an extent. Johnny seems less hostile towards Max after kicking his butt. The same seems to go for Lefty.
Discard and Draw: The possibility is implied in chapter 3, and made explicit via Word Of God. Tools and mediums are really just ways for spirits to recover from grave injury, and spectrals are able to use their powers during that interval. A spectral will lose that spirit's abilities once it leaves, but they can always pick up a new tool or get possessed again.
Eye Scream: The whale-frog spirit can make reflections come to life. This is taken to the logical extreme through including reflections in peoples' eyes. Which causes tiny doubles of himself clawing their way out of P.J.'s eyes. Holy crap.
The Faceless: R.J.'s face is always hidden in the shadow of his hood.
BL's face is completely obscured by bandages. Noticeably, her bandaged face is smooth, and lacks any indication of a nose or other features underneath them.
Faceless Masses: In chapter one, the school hallways are filled with purple and less-detailed extras. Subverted; they're actually ghosts.
Fantastic Racism: The whale-frog spirit apparently finds ghost-powered humans abominable.
Freudian Slip: At the end of Chapter 3, Max asks Spender a question about where could a ghost more likely be found, whether where it died, or where she was buried. Every other member of the Activity Club catches the slip, Mr. Spender and Isaac comment how that wasn't subtle at all.
Fridge Logic: In-universe. Max wonders aloud in chapter 3 why the earth isn't covered in bug ghosts.
Isabel's Grandpa: Arrogant girl! How could an immaculate and majestic being such as myself produce a descendant with such a flaw?!
Improbable Weapon User: The "tools" used by the activity club to fight monsters include such things as paintbrushes and books. There's even a plunger tool out there, though as of yet no one's gotten stuck with it.
Just like the Funny Background Events, the comic is chock full of important ones too. For example, when Johnny recounts his version of the battle with the sphinx to Ollie, the sphinx is edited out the panels cropped from previous strips because he didn't see it.
Often doubles with Chekhov's Gun. A good example is in chapter 1 when Max was talking to Violet and Lisa, you can see Ed receiving a paper plane message in the background which later turns out to be from Isabel.
Missing Mom: Max's mother. She apparently died traumatically.
Mood Whiplash: After setting down a photo of Max's Missing Mom, the family goes quiet for a moment. Then Max's dad erupts into "WHO WANTS PIZZA?"
Mundane Made Awesome: The "Super Max Speed-Changing Cool Technique", the soup can throw, and other things.
Obfuscating Insanity / Obfuscating Stupidity: An interesting out-of-universe example, the comic itself seems to display either of these tropes. While at a glance it could be said the comic oozes random humor and whimsical nonsense, readers that pay attention to detail can notice there's a certain method to the madness. Dialogue that seems random has its purpose or are witty responses to previous lines. Characters that seem to be just fooling around actually have reasons to do what they do. Pages that apparently make no sense at all are later explained off when the time is right. There's even purpose to background events and stylistic choices. Random? Think again.
One-Winged Angel: Pulled off in quite a big way by the bat spirit in chapter 1, and then again (possibly) by the whale-frog spirit in chapter 2. It's implied to be a form of Super Mode that all spirits are capable of when under stress, which Mr Spender calls "the Grudge effect".
The sixth panel of chapter 4, page 47 counts as well. It originally had such wonderful sound effects written in the wind like "Dark Bunnies" and "Emo Breeze." Zack later removed them after deciding he wanted to playthat momentstraight.
"Ghosts" are dead people; "spirits" were never alive and run the gamut of weirdness. Everyone from either category has a special power that is fully subject to the Superpower Lottery (one spirit can shoot lightning while one ghost can...conjure pretty glowing butterflies).
"Spectrals" are humans who can see the supernatural, and with some training can access a basic set of ghostly superpowers, such as a Finger Gun. Spectrals can supplement their powerset by obtaining a "tool" (a possessed object that can access a spirit's powers) or becoming a "medium" through direct possession.
Other ghost-related terminology includes "poltergeist" (a ghost that can manipulate physical objects—also used as a verb), "shade" (the indistinct, shadowy blobs that people see when their sixth sense is first awakened), and "grudge" (vague, but based on context appears to be a spirit going One-Winged Angel due to stress).
Portmantitle: The title Paranatural comes from the fact that, amongst themselves, the Activity Club calls itself the Paranatural Activity Club. This splices and combines the words 'paranormal' and 'supernatural', even though both words mean the same thing. The silly name is justified by the fact that they're middle-schoolers.
On the flip side, we have Supernormal — one-off gag strips in the extras section that show the non-supernatural side of life in Mayview.
Psychoactive Powers: While Spectrals can generate energy voluntarily, they also tend to radiate it when angry or upset. P.J. also implies that the reason he can't interact with physical objects is his lack of self-confidence.
Pun: Max notes with glee that since Isaac is possessed by a spirit, he's...a tool.
Punny Name: P.J., a pajama-clad ghost living in Max's house. Although he would like you to know that his nickname was P.J. before he died in his pajamas.
School Club Front: The Paranatural Activity Club, whose purpose is to keep paranormal activity around the school in check, and to help young spectrals like Max understand and control their powers, while Invisible to Normals creatures roam around the town.