Webcomic: Roomies!, It's Walky!, Joyce and Walky! aka: Roomies
Roomies!, It's Walky!, and Joyce and Walky! are three interconnected comics in the Walkyverse, and can be found here (with the exception of most of Joyce and Walky!, which can be purchased here.) If you don't want to Archive Binge, the entire thing is being reuploaded a day at a time in "best reading order" here.Roomies! began on September 10th, 1997 as a Slice of Life webcomic concerning the adventures of Danny Wilcox, Ordinary College Student, and his Kavorka Man roommate Joe Rosenthal. Other important characters included Danny's love interest Jennifer "Billie" Billingsworth, his mixed-race Broken Bird ex-girlfriend Sal Walters, and the sheltered, semi-well-adjusted Joyce Brown. The strip gradually developed both Cerebus Syndrome and a love for theatrics, culminating in Joe and Joyce being kidnapped by aliens.At this point it re-branded itself It's Walky! and began to focus on the adventures of a Government Conspiracy called SEMME, dedicated to dealing with extra-terrestrial threats to Earth. The titular David "Walky" Walkerton, a hyperactive member of Squad 128, found himself fighting alongside Sal, Joe and Joyce, all of whom were inducted to SEMME and placed in his squad, with Stuffy Brit Jason Chesterfield, Jerk with a Heart of Jerk Mike Warner and even-more-hyperactive Robin DeSanto rounding out the central cast.After a random collection of Where Are They Now Epilogues, Willis launched Joyce and Walky! in 2005, a Dom Com centering around the Official Couple of the verse, debuted, playing out the affairs of characters after the retirement of It's Walky!. Only strips published on Saturdays were available to the public; Tuesday and Thursday material were for subscribers only. Though initially described as "a post-apocalyptic tale of domestic hijinx", it quickly developed its own sci-fi oriented storyline based around the offspring of SEMME members from alternate futures appearing in the main universe in the present day. (Around the same time, Robin and Mike got spun off into Shortpacked!)This strip was put on hiatus in 2010, and later that year got an Ultimate Universe in Dumbing of Age, which transplants characters from all of Willis's other comics into Indiana University and strips off the sci-fi elements, thus going back to the original premise of Roomies!...and so the circle is complete.Joyce & Walky! got taken out of mothballs on May 13, 2012, with sporadic updates between then and August, and is currently stalled again. However, the plan currently is to end the comic on the scene it left off on, keeping its chronology trapped in 2010.As mentioned, the entire story is being gradually reuploaded to a new website, with commentary under every strip from Willis. The main purpose of the site is to give people the chance to read it in chronological order, and apparently to induce a sense of despair in Willis.The cast of these series is vast, but the main players in each can be boiled down to:
Danny Wilcox, an ordinary college student with a tendency for unbridled panic.
Joe Rosenthal, Danny's womanizing best friend and dorm roommate.
Their main opponents are the Purple Aliens ('Alien' being the actual name of their homeworld), lead by Head Alien; the British Ninjas from a secret organization led by Jason's father Dargon Chesterfield and Jason's former lover Penny Worthington; and the Martian Empire.
Joyce and Walky:
Becky, Joyce's new best friend. She is generally more sane and easy-going than Joyce.
Dorothy, Walky's over-achieving ex-girlfriend who dumped him for not being studious enough. She's moved into Walky's neighborhood and is having second thoughts about her decision all those years ago.
D.J. Wilcox, Danny and Sal's hypothetical kid from the future. Other universes sending help for other versions of him, only to end up in the mainline continuity, is the impetus for most of the plot.
Book Ends: The comic begins and ends with Danny on the phone with his girlfriend and scolding Joe for climbing up out the window to the girls' dorms, trying to get him to think of the consequences. The first time, Joe's response shows his obliviousness to the concept of dealing with your actions; the second time, Joe has actually considered the potential ramifications (if only the favorable ones) and decided to do it anyway.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' ': Drink one beer, and you'll proceed to get totally drunk and a close friend of yours will GET KILLED saving you from your own stupidity.
Also lampshaded and averted much, much later ("Alcohol killed Ruth." "No, Ruth killed Ruth.")
The print version of book two will be titled Giant Size Acts of Integrity, due to Willis' disagreement with Dave Sim's current sociological views.
Take That Me: David Willis' commentary on the "Bring Back Roomies!" website. He doesn't let an opportunity pass by for him to make fun of his old art or his (and therefore his characters') former fundamentalist Christian beliefs.
The Atoner: Sal. Somewhat subverted, since this is usually defined as wanting to go out and do something to atone. Sal sits in prison when it is implied she could break out, and is forced to escape by circumstances.
Berserk Button: Well, a lot of them, but honorable mention to Dina, who had been steadily falling into despairing over her own uselessness when one of the Britjas pressed it when he was setting up a bomb to destroy S.E.M.M.E.'s intelligence and research files.
"Hey, kid, don't take it personally. It's just a bunch of science."
Danny reacts to Sal sneaking into his room in Roomies! the same way he does seeing she's become a genocidal maniac in It's Walky!, and her response is similar too. In the former situation, she was pretending to be her former upbeat self to keep Danny from the pain of her parents death, in the latter his appearance helps confirm that she's pretending to be genocidal to convince herself her convictions mean something.
Death Is Cheap: Averted, despite the heroes having access to a Martian Resurrection Chamber by the end of the comic. Only one person can use it at a time, the process takes nine months, and you need a sample of DNA from the subject. And the martians are very thorough when it comes to preventing their enemies from returning, so most of the SEMME agents who died in the finale are staying dead. It's very fortunate that Joyce happened to have...acquired some of Walky's genetic material shortly before the battle.
Death Is the Only Option: In the finale, Walky has to die so he can enter purgatory and get nudged up into the brain of the Cheese, a God-like robot that's the only thing powerful enough to stop the Martian invasion. Similarly, Alan must kill himself by intangably entering the Cheese in order to get the Head Alien out of control.
Disproportionate Retribution: Before coming to the main universe Dargon Chesterfield condemned his home universe to eventual heat death by intentionally refusing to evenly trade energy from the universe he and the rest of his organization were traveling to. All because The Wanderer didn't leave him enough time for Jason to be born there, thus making him detectable by the other universe's version of The Wanderer.
The Wanderer: No! Our universe will die a slow energy death! What motive do you have against the countless innocents that inhabit your native world?!
Dargon Chesterfield: You robbed me of my heir. I will rob you of your future.
Ditto Aliens: Justified - we never see the Purple Aliens or Martians outside of their protective suits.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: Monkey Master, who hates being called a monkey - he's a giant robot ape, after all; also, Walky's obsession with monkeys, and especially his favorite childhood toy, Mister Monkey.
Eyepatch of Power: Dargon Chesterfield milks this trope for all it's worth. After she kills him, Penny even takes it to wear herself.
Expy: Sal is amazingly similar to Rogue of the X-Men. She speaks with a Southern accent, discovers her long-lost brother is her teammate, is one of the strongest members of SEMME, is emotionally conflicted and constantly switching sides, and even wears gloves.
Quite a few things, like her trauma at her parents being killed, her dark brooding nature, and disdain for doors are taken directly from Batman. Lampshaded.
Genre Savvy: Danny. While talking with Sal, he mentions that he's planning to ask Billie to marry him. Sal asks if she can see the ring. His response? "Hell no. I know how this works. I show you the ring, and Billie walks around the corner."
"Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Averted: when Sal was incarcerated, she could easily have broken out if she'd wanted to, but remained because she knows she deserved it, and eventually had to escape when swept up by circumstances.
Godly Sidestep: The Big Cheese claims to know which religion is the correct one, but refuses to tell anyone, claiming that if you don't figure it out for yourself, you won't understand the answer.
Government Conspiracy: SEMME. Eventually revealed to be involved in an even bigger conspiracy with the Martians and JFO. Dargon Chesterfield created SEMME specifically so that he could build an army out of the abductees, who were themselves the product of a joint effort between Linda Walkerton and the Head Alien.
Ladykiller in Love: Joe, first with his crush on Joyce and then with him starting to fall for a nerdy girl in a chatroom. It sets off his character development arc, and he eventually becomes a more well-rounded person because of both instances.
Lets Wait Awhile: Though in Joyce and Walky, it's not so much "Wait until the time is right to have sex" as much as "Wait until Joyce can think about sex without going catatonic or psychotic."
Like Brother and Sister: Walky and Billie are revealed to have been this before Walky was recruited to SEMME, having grown up together and maintained a strained friendship through high school. She seems genuinely happy to see him when he meets up with the Roomies! characters early on.
Mood Whiplash: Oh dear sweet lord, SO MUCH. Routinely switches from grief over main character deaths to Toilet Humor. Oddly, this can heighten the dramatic effects - the characters are so used to that sort of thing by the end of the comic that they move on faster than the reader does.
More Than Mind Control: Beef, the long-lost Walkerton sibling, was part of the squad that supposedly got brainwashed when they went to England to investigate the JFO. Only he wasn't brainwashed. Merely disgruntled.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Head Alien is a pretty funny guy... who also happens to singlehandedly ruin several characters' lives.
Obfuscating Stupidity Dizzy and hyperactive as he is, Walky is not nearly as dumb as he acts, (he was a straight-A student) but he prefers to play the fool to avoid responsibility. (And he has trouble breaking the habit of a lifetime when responsibility is ultimately forced upon him.)
Only Known by Their Nickname: Walky is called "David" a small handful of times in the strip's entire history (mostly by his mother.) Doubly ironic as everyone calls him "Walky", which is a nickname he doesn't even like (he insists people call him "Walkerton") due to its association with repressed memories.
Billie also qualifies.
Painting the Medium: Aliens speak in orange-yellow, octagonal text boxes. Monkey Master and other mechanical characters speak in rectangular text boxes (and the Cheese's are yellow.) Martian text boxes are deep orange with bizarre, scatter-shot shapes.
Shout-Out: Walky seeks inspiration for how to effectively lead his team, and it comes crashing through a window. Turns out Willis was making references to Batman even before he started parodying him explicitly.
Took A Level In Bad Ass: Billie actually dares to challenge Sal over Danny and manages to give a surprisingly good account of herself due to martial arts training and a childhood spent fighting with Walky.
The Unmasqued World: The Aliens come out of hiding and attack Denver about halfway through the series.
Unpredictable Results: The Head Alien's time-freezing ray, which at first seems to just cause Gender Bender but makes reality gradually more wibbly the longer it lasts. The fact that the ray was used to freeze the Cheese, who is functionally if not literally God in the Walkyverse, may have had something to do with this.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Willis had way too much fun with Joyce and Walky's. By the time it was released it had the force of a small thermonuclear device.
We Named The Dog Indiana: Joyce's dogs, Walkies and Daniel. Both times, she had been mindwiped of the respective boy's existence, and it was unintentional. When introducing Walky to her parents, they believe Walky was named after the dog. He retorts with an Indiana Jones reference.
Burger Fool: Sal ends up as one when forced into the working world.
Call Back: Sal calls Joyce's use of her jetpack cheating when recounting one of their It's Walky!-era fights to Becky. Later, whilst fighting the brainwashed alt-future kids, Joyce gleefully refers to the use of her jetpack as cheating as she and Walky fly into battle.
Joyce mocks Walky with his dialogue from thesecomics when he returns from his first day of student-teaching (which of course requires him to wear a tie.)
Cerebus Retcon: We get an explanation for the duct tape restraints. Apparently it worked on the abductees when they were kids—and when they got old enough to escape, mental suggestions were planted in their brains creating a psychological inability to break the tape.
Grand Theft Me: HAII eventually pulls this on Dorothy as one last resort—only for it to work out for HAI instead.
Goggles Do Nothing: The alt-future kids all wear goggles, but mostly on their foreheads. What purpose they serve is never explained, but given that the kids bitch at each other for stealing each other's looks they're probably just there for esthetic reasons.
Got Me Doing It: Joyce now also uses "wiigii" instead of "woo-hoo", and probably picked it up from Walky.
Happily Engaged and Living Together: The titular duo. While Joyce does become a tad paranoid when Walky starts hanging around Dorothy, their relationship is remarkably drama-free and all of their arguments are petty and short-lived.
Heroic Sacrifice: D.J. dies getting an organ transplant for a dying Sal, which he forced a doctor to do at gunpoint.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Dorothy's mind, like most abductee minds, is wired to be psychologically unable to break duct tape restraints—a fact Machete exploits when he tapes HAI-in-Dorothy's-body to the wall during the wedding arc.
Hope Spot: The multitude of alternate-future kids have been chained up by Head Alien II, but one (D.J. Wilcox) escaped. The others think he'll be of some help, until...
HAII: I see the hope on your faces, and I know the reason for it. Hell, I put it there. You know, to taunt you, if only for a few minutes. That's right—I let D.J. Wilcox escape.
Hypocrite: Joyce edges into this territory when she has a mini-freakout over Walky and Dorothy hanging out. Walky points out that she pined after both Danny and Joe and he doesn't take issue with them being around.
DJ: I shouldn't be interacting with you to begin with. I only initiated it for my own selfish reasons. So I deserve any ire thrown my way. This was stupid, plain and simple. But hey, principals mean diddly squat without the experiences to back them up, right?
The Mole: Dorothy and Rachel, the latter of whom turns out to be a robot replacement of the original.
No Dialogue Episode: Joyce and Walky's wedding ceremony—at least until Head Alien I gatecrashes.
Revenge: Joyce and Walky are ready to flee HAII's army when Machete mentions he killed Sal, at which point they charge back into battle. Jason is a little less rash but follows them when Machete says HAII recorded the killing and watches it over and over.
Self-Serving Memory: Joyce has got a bit of a case of this with regards to her relationship with Danny in Roomies!.
Shot in the Ass: Joyce's mom. She withholds the location of the wound long enough to guilt Joyce into having kids.
Status Quo Is God: Head Alien I, outnumbered and on the retreat, suggests this: he rebuilds his army, Joyce and Walky rebuild SEMME, and the cycle of plotting-and-thwarting continue just like the old days.
Stuffed into the Fridge: Averted. Willis realized that that he'd done this to Rachel during the wedding storyline and wasn't happy about it, so he set up a storyline in Shortpacked! specifically to fix the problem.
Joe: Everything's going to be completely different, isn't it?
Danny: Yep. And I'm completely ready. ... Nothing can possibly go wrong!
Joe ducks under the table, than cautiously pokes his head up
Joe: Nothing happened.
Danny: Told you everything is different.
And Played Straight a moment later—after Danny's big speech about how he feels ready for any challenge life lobs at him, D.J. shows up and claims to be his son.
Under The Mistletoe: Joyce and Sal freak out when they find themselves under it in the Dec. 2005 wallpaper.
Wedding Day: Danny and Billie's wedding, though the duo are out of focus in favor of highlighting Sal and Joyce's hostility towards each other regarding how their relationships with Danny ended up. The comic also ends on one—or is about to, anyway—between Joyce and Walky themselves.
Sorry, took "wedding crasher" a wee bit too literally.''
With This Ring: Joe fumbles it at Danny and Billie's wedding, sending Sal and Joyce scrambling to beat each other to get it, much to the irritation of the bride and groom. Sarah beats both of them to it.