Webcomic / School Spirit
is a webcomic
written and drawn by Daniel Vanderwerff. It features the various misadventures of a gaggle of Australian primary school children and the spirits in the cemetery next door. While it is written primarily as a humour comic, generally each update being four panels long, the short story arcs of School Spirit generally follow on from each other to tell a meandering, ongoing story where many of the story arcs lead on or to those earlier of further adead.
Casper and Cody can both see and hear the spirits in the cemetery next door to the school, young Wendy being their main friend on that side of the fence. One of two of the other children are at least vaguely aware there's something a little different happening in the cemetery, but for the most part the rest of the children in the cast carry on with their own lives and adventures alongside Casper, Cody and Wendy. The strip is plainly Australian, featuring Australian culture, language and themes and flavours familiar of those growing up in the country.
Tropes found in this work:
- Afraid of Doctors - Someone would rather keep their cast than have a doctor remove it.
- All Love Is Unrequited - Casper has a little thing for Chastity (well, on and off when he remembers) but she and her friends wouldn't even know of the existence of an 'invisible nobody' like him.
- An Aesop - Probably several throughout the long archive, particularly 'Mr Kelly's Memory' among others.
- Annoying Younger Sibling - Close. He's actually a younger cousin.
- Arc Words - Casper and Cody are often referred to as 'invisible nobodies', given as the reason they are able to see the spirits in the cemetery next door.
- Art Evolution - Originally the strips were in black and white with grey-scale shading. After 160 strips, they were all (over a period of a few weeks) re-coloured and the strip has been full colour ever since.
- Bookworm - Brylcreem.
- Brand X - Could be anything, but ther will always end with the suffix '-roos', as in lollyroos and chippieroos. Because everything in Australia is named after kangaroos, right?
- Breaking the Fourth Wall - Only happens on occasion, and usually only with a knowing look from a character towards the reader. Happens a little more frequently and obviously during the stand alone specials, usually with the character talking to the reader about something, particularly the Culture and History lesson strips, for example.
- Cute Monster Girl - Wendy is the 12 year old 'spirit' of School Spirit.
- Chekhov's Gun - The gravestone rock Casper takes from the cemetery.
- Dead to Begin With - All of the spirits in the cemetery are there from the beginning. This is a happy strip. It's unlikely a living character will pass on as of yet.
- Facepalm - There are always a few examples of these.
- Four Fingered Hand - During the first 1000 strips the characters all had four fingers. From around the #1000 mark, everyone grew a fifth digit. Nobody seems to have noticed, or cared to point it out if they did.
- Fourth-Wall Mail Slot - Each year during the End of Year Series, there is an End Of Year Report strip, usually featuring comments made about School Spirit by the readers.
- Gagper Day Webcomics - Generally four panels a day, with a joke or at least a moment to smile and reflect on at the end.
- Hurricane of Puns - The author loves bad jokes. Several times entire story arcs have revolved around bad puns based on particular themes or topics. If a joke is bad enough to use once, it's bad enough to use six times.
- It's All About Me - Chastity, the Schoolyard Beauty. Although, like the rest of the children in the cast, she gets her own chances to show there's more to her than two dimensions.
- Loads and Loads of Characters - At last count there are approximately twenty characters running around in the School Spirit world, with the little prep boy turning up often enough to count even if he doesn't yet have a name the rest of the kids know.
- Only Known by Their Nickname - Brylcreem and Didj.
- Orphaned Punchline - Several appear at the start of individual strips, usually to sneak a not so polite joke into the strip and to show the kids are having a conversation of their own before being interrupted with whatever the strip wants them to do!
- Our Ghosts are Different - Call these ones a ghost and they're likely to remind you in no small way that they are, in fact, spirits. If you don't know the difference, then they're not going to tell you.
- Tagline - 'Remember when you were a kid and the world held magic the grown ups never knew'.
- Monochrome Past - Any strip featuring a 'flashback' or story from a character's past is generally washed in sepia.
- Parental Abandonment - None of the kids are orphaned, but none of their parents have ever appeared either, although occasionally they are mentioned from time to time.
- Photo Montage - the final strip of every year features either a Cast Photo (in the first few years) or a Photo Gallery of events of the previous year.
- Previously On - The first strip of each new year begins with a sepia toned recount of events from the last year, often accompanied with a short reflection on what the kids learned during those times.
- Punny Name - The spirit of the swagman who appears in the cemetery whenever the billabong floods is called 'Andy'.
- Running Gag - The line 'Is that supposed to be funny' occurs several times throughout the archive, particularly early on, in response to learning Casper's name. Also, 'If you don't know, we're not going to tell you'.
- Sliceof Life Webcomics - Yes, there are spirits in the cemetery next door, but they just carry on with life too.
- Smart People Wear Glasses - Brylcreem... and his big, thick glasses. Mr Kelly also wears glasses, probably mainly because he is old, but he is also the principal, so in the kids' eyes, that makes him the smartest teacher, right?
- Sunday Strip - There are well over 100 'special' strips that run as stand alone episodes throughout the archive, and most of these are two or three times the size of the regular strips.
- The Chew Toy - Cody. Although he gets his fair share of time in the spotlight to more than make up for it.
- The Reveal - The 'spirit', Wendy, is revealed to be a real ghost (or spirit!) and not somebody ender a white sheet in School Spirit #50. Yes, it held off for 50 strips before revealing a real spirit in the cemetery.
- The Short Guy with Glasses - Brylcreem. Again.
- Throw the Dog a Bone - Many of the kids in the cast find themselves the butt of their fair share of jokes, but just about all of them have had several prominent chances to out-shine the rest of the cast, at least for a little while.
- Two-Teacher School - Miss Conway teaches the older children, which is most of them, and Mr Kelly is the principal. The younger children have yet to allow their teachers to appear...