A webcomic, written by Dave Warren, about adoption... with a twist
follows the adventures of an amphibious young girl, and the man who adopts her. No one knows exactly what she is, but somehow she ended up in the municipal orphanage, where she was recently adopted by Todd Smith. The comic follows her trying to adapt to her new life... and Todd and his family trying to adapt to her.
Also see The Adventures of Sue and Kathryn!
, another webcomic by Warren that also happens to be a Show Within a Show
cartoon franchise in this one.
This webcomic provides examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: Sometimes played straight, but mostly averted - the faculty at the school do try their best, but sometimes the situation can get out of hand for them. To their credit, they tend to recover admirably afterward.
- And in regards to Selkie, it's justified since they're being intentionally kept in the dark on the matter.
- Adult Fear: In-universe. The grown-ups of the story seem much more disturbed when Selkie's shirt gets stolen than the children do. Justified for some of the children, who lived with her in the orphanage and may have known about Selkie's gill routine, which requires her removing her shirt.
- All Crimes Are Equal: Selkie runs afoul of the school's No Tolerance Policy when she kicked a boy in the groin in self-defense.
- All There in the Manual: There are several physiology sketches, and Dave was nice enough to actually type up a couple pages of Selkie's case file, print them out and scan them for us. Also, reading through the comments reveals a wealth of information from replies to reader questions.
- Alt Text: Called Secret Director Commentary, it's basically little facts about either the making of the strip or the continuity. Later altered to be viewable below the comic, because some browsers were having trouble viewing it.
- Art Evolution: The comic started out with hand-drawn black and white lines. Over the course of its run, it has gained smooth vector lines, followed by color, and then, finally, shading. The skill at which the art is drawn has also increased noticeably.
- At one point Dave even did an experiment with no outlines, but it was dismissed by both him and most of the fans.
- Ascended Extra: Thanks to her popularity with both the readers and Dave himself, Jessie the Wool-Mart clerk is now Jessie the third grade student teacher.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Todd's landlady delivers a good one to establish herself as the Cool Old Lady.
Euphemia: Is [the boardgame] Satanic?
Mary: Oh good lord! No!
Euphemia: Well then, how is it a horror story?
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: A sculpture in-universe has this, leading to Selkie asking why it doesn't have "girl-parts".
- Berserk Button: Do not call Selkie a fish (or anything implying such). She will not be happy.
- Big "WHAT?!": Amanda's reaction to finding out Heather got adopted.
- Bilingual Bonus: Anything that comes out of Tony's mouth.
- Big Eater: Selkie herself, especially when it comes to fish and other seafood.
- Bi the Way: Although not referring to bisexuals in particular, the author has made references to a polygamous quintet, a gay couple wanting to adopt, and a "where are they now" short sees Jessie at home with her girlfriend.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Selkie herself. Blue blood, gills, no external ears, a flattened nose with slit-like nostrils, an obligate carnivore with a healthy appetite for seafood and who "pukes purple" if she consumes plant matter ... and poisonous saliva to boot.
- Bland-Name Product: Apparently Selkie enjoys watching movies on Flixnet. Dave also enjoys a nice cold "Dew of the mountains".
- Body Horror: In the Show Within a Show superhero cartoon, the character Web-Spitter has a spider for a head (complete with legs) after eating radioactive spider eggs, and also pukes webbing. Selkie finds this more disgusting than disturbing.
- The Bully: Tommy Trunchbull. Unlike many fictional cases, Tommy comes from a loving household albeit with a father whose forceful personality naturally steamrolls most opposition.
- Bunny Ears Doctor: Dr. Pohl De'Medeia. Literally. Subverted since Dr. De'Mediea has a legitimate reason for wearing the ears: they're a disgust decoy.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Tommy the bully has such a moment here.
- Cat Smile: Grigori gets one of these after talking Todd into buying an array of custom-order shoes... each of which generates a 9% commission for him.
- Cats Are Mean: The first thing Todd's cat, Crook, does upon meeting Selkie is to bite her.
- Which bites him in the butt, since he immediately starts horking up a hairball.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: George.
- Cool Old Lady: Lillian—no, sorry, Mrs. Haversham-Zhang.
- Cool Old Guy: Todd's father, as it turns out. He has parenting advice for Todd, and has no problem trying Selkies rather...odd...favorite food.
- Curse Cut Short: "Someone stole her SHIRT?! What the f-" "Marta, Swear Jar" "...fudge. Fudge ripple."
- Deadpan Snarker: Marta.
- Department of Redundancy Department: As a Funny Background Event in the last panel.
Rule 6: No spitting.
Rule 10: Seriously. No spitting.
- Dirty Old Woman: Downplayed, but Todd's landlady's reply to Todd mentioning he's not her husband? "Yet."
- Does Not Like Shoes: Selkie, due to her having webbed feet and being unable to find shoes that fit without hurting. She changes her mind after Todd gets her shoes custom designed to fit her feet.
- Enfant Terrible: Amanda. Torments Selkie with the idea she'll never be adopted (before Todd does, which sends her into hysterical anger), and introduces her to a new kid as the school's 'pet monster'.
- However, as mentioned in the YMMV page, she has a massive Freudian Excuse as to why.
- Epic Fail: Jess' reaction upon realizing that Keisha really didn't steal Selkie's shirt.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Selkie. Due to the orphanage not being able to understand Sarnothi, they thought her name is "Sel Kie" or "Selkie". Her given name is actually Nei Li.
- Fangs Are Evil: Averted. Selkie has a mouth full of sharp fangs prominently displayed when speaking and/or smiling, but is not evil or (completely) malicious.
- Fashion-Shop Fashion Show: Selkie gets one on their initial trip to Wool Mart.
- Fish Person: The title character. So is Dr. De'Medeia. They are sarnothi, a species that follows this trope.
- Flipping the Bird: Selkie herself, doing it to taunt some other kids in a snowball fight.
- Freaky Is Cool: Selkie was always passed over for more "normal" kids by prospective adopters, until Todd showed up and was drawn to her.
- Freudian Excuse: Amanda's treatment of Selkie first seems like either Fantastic Racism or her being a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, until it's shown that she hates Selkie because her arrival at the orphanage meant Amanda had no help in figuring out why her adoptive parents would dump her.
- Full Name Ultimatum: Professor Trunchbull finally learns what his son has been doing.
- Genki Girl: Sandy, best evidenced here.
- Genre Savvy: When Todd's father finds out Selkie is a mysterious non-human species, he quickly things to asks whether they need to worry about The Men in Black kicking down their door.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: The eternal internal dialogue.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Selkie's currently unknown language has briefly appeared, although so far it's spoken only by her and Mrs. Haversham-Zhang. And her mother too.
- Happily Adopted: Selkie, of course.
- And as it turns out, Todd himself. It seems to be a family trait.
- Heel Realization: Always tough when it's a 9-year-old kid having this realization.
- Hellish Pupils: Subverted. She has black sclera and slit pupils, but Selkie is a good girl.
- Heroic Albino: Not quite heroic, per se, but Jessie is very sweet and understanding, even if she does have a tendency to put her foot in her mouth.
- Heterochromia: Both Sandy and Moonsong have a case of this. Word of God confirms that Moonsong is blind in his left eye.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: To help a friend.
- And later with the hated pink shoes.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: The shoe store "C'est la Feet".
- Insistent Terminology: Selkie isn't blue - she's periwinkle.
- Interspecies Adoption: The basis of the comic.
- Iron Lady: Lillian Haversham-Zhang. "I study judo for a reason." Kind of crosses over with Mama Bear.
- Limited Wardrobe: Word of God says he's going to avert this.
- Long-Lost Relative: As it turns out, Amanda is Todd and Andi's daughter, whom Todd thought had died at birth.
- Mad Scientist: Aside from the Show Within a Show having one, Selkie also fantasizes about being one.
- Meaningful Name: A selkie is a creature from Irish mythology that can change from a seal into a person and back again-in other words, it can live both on land and in the water. This may also explain why she likes seals.
- The Trunchbull's last name indeed comes from that Trunchbull, as reflected by their venomous personalities.
- The Men in Black: Todd's father expresses worry about the possibility of them showing up because of Selkie. Todd points out that Selkie has public records, including a medical one, meaning that such an event would be unlikely. Of course, that was before the reveal of one Agent Brown...
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Clyde doesn't count.
- Mood Whiplash: The fallout of Heather taking Selkie's shirt shifts from Tearjerker to Heartwarming before crossing into Funny with the last panel.
- The comic rapidly shifts from the war that's nearly wiped out Selkie's clan to a hilarious discussion of artistic nudity. It's Sai Fen's line at the end that really sells it.
- NEET: Shinji from one of the nearby apartments.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Selkie's species has them. She was also depicted as such in aged-up fanart before Dave posted the physiology sketch that proved it. Justified in that the reason they develop breasts is because they nurse their young for a few weeks until teeth develop.
- Noodle Incident: Did ya hear the one about the frog and the cigar? Well, it earned Tony a week with no dessert...
- We actually get a good idea of what it was, given that the original outline for one strip had Selkie reciting it to Todd as they left the orphanage. Although she got cut off by Todd, it was fairly obvious where it was leading too...
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Agent Brown proves that Dr. De'Madeia isn't as slick as he thinks he is.
- Orphanage of Love: The Calumet City Municipal Orphanage.
- Papa Wolf: Todd slowly grows into one over the course of the story.
- Pluralses: A feature of Selkie's speech. Fans initially speculated whether it was a side effect of trying to speak English through fangs. It's actually because her native tongue has different rules for pluralization, and she learned English through 'crash-course immersion'. Selkie does not take kindly to having it implied to be a speech impediment.
- Potty Failure: Played for Drama (mildly) when Selkie literally scares the piss out of her friend.
- Pragmatic Villainy: A low-scale variety with the Principal strictly adhering to the No Tolerance Policy. It's less that he thinks Selkie deserves punishment, and more that he doesn't want to deal with the Trunchbulls giving him grief over it.
- Unfortunately, they still do, getting their son off scot-free while Selkie gets suspended for the week.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Ares. Yous. Fulls. Ofs. Craps?"
- The Reveal: The name of Selkie's species is sarnothi.
- Retcon: Originally, in the background of Todd's room there was a book clearly labeled The Secret Kingdom, named so because it sounds like the title of a generic kids novel series, right? Turns out there was a book already written under the same title by Pat Robertson, "the person who blamed Hurricane Katrina and the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on homosexuality and abortion." Needless to say, a new title was quickly substituted.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Todd's family seems to have a knack for it.
- Shipper on Deck: Jess with Todd and Mina, in the same strip that started the Ship Tease.
- Ship Tease: Between Todd and Mina. The snowball fight and Selkie getting suspended for a week for defending herself have scuttled that ship, though.
- Shout-Out: Several.
- Spoiled Brat: Truck's parents, The Trunchbulls, firmly believe that their son can do no wrong. This line of thinking led to Truck declaring "When I tell you to do something, you gotta do it" to the victim of his bullying.
- Show Within a Show: Selkie loves The Adventures of Sue and Kathryn, which is a television cartoon about the misadventures of a ten-year-old zombie and wraith, respectively. There's even in-universe merchandise, as Selkie at one point wants a pair of Sue and Kathryn shoes. (He later spun it off into its own webcomic.)
- Straight Gay: Todd's brother, Antoine.
- Symbol Swearing: The author's preferred way of dealing with cursing. It comes either as a Fun with Acronyms version (Star House Ice-cream Turtle) or short-hand symbols (Such as crossed gender-symbols to illustrate a Precision F-Strike).
- With this strip, one of his replies to reader comments is that he loves the "figuring it out stage" people go through with those symbols.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: It's Professor Trunchbull.
- This Is Going To Suck: Said word-for-word in this strip. Given what they're discussing - yes. Yes it will suck.
- Time Skip: A four month one, during which the adoption process takes place.
- Too Spicy For Yog Sogoth: Selkie may actually be poisonous to even bite, judging by the reaction of aforementioned cat to biting her.
- Unishment: Selkie's in tears over getting suspended for a week. Then she finds out what suspension means.
Georgie: Dude! If I kick a kid in the nuts, I get to skip school for a whole WEEK?!
Principal: It's not a reward!
- Verbal Tic: Selkie frequently adds unnecessary esses to her words. It's apparently a common issue with Sarnothi, and demonstrative of the differences between their language and English, as Pohl and his wife learned to overcome it.
- Webcomic Time: Ignoring the Time Skip, the entire comic so far has covered just a few days in-universe, with strips released over nearly a year in real time.
- Wham Episode: The Reveal that Amanda is Todd and Andi's daughter.
- And the trip to the hospital, featuring several Wham Scenes in short order: The formal reveal of Dr. Gillman, Pohl De'Madeia, followed shortly by his wife and family; the name of Selkie's species, sarnothi; and, both in one page, the reveal that there was a civil war and that Selkie is from "Clan Jin'Sorai", a line that's followed by a major Reaction Shot of despair from the listener.