Webcomic / The Class Menagerie
The Class Menagerie
is a shortlived Furry Comic
by Vince Suzukawa
taking place in a Wacky College
. The cast ranges from the relatively normal Jerk Jock
lion to the Ambiguously Gay Schedule Fanatic
kangaroo. Much of the humor and appeal comes from the various characters' personalities interacting, whether it's them (reluctantly) working together or just rubbing the wrong way.The comic can be found here
, though the archives are a bit... scrambled. Luckily, most
of the plotting doesn't require certain arcs to be read in order, just that they be read.
This webcomic provides examples of:
- Adorkable: Tony, in spades. This is a large part of what Cindy finds attractive about him.
- Mikey is a lesser example.
- Ain't No Rule: During the "Incognito" arc, both sides of the Forrest Tech/DeMontfort school rivalry invoke this during the mascot competition. Forrest build a huge mecha mascot. playing on the fact that there are no limitations on the mascot's costume as long as it reasonably resembles the school mascot. DeMontfort blows it wide open by exploiting the fact that while only one costume is allowed, you can have as many participants as you want as long as they only use one costume between them and still both look like the mascot. As DeMontfort's mascot is Gruff The Griffon, they can have two competitors on the field, with Brad wearing the mascot body but needing no mask, and Biff wearing the mask but not needing the body, with one wing each.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Scott's parents, at least in his opinion.
- Anything That Moves: Implied with Kim Greenwald, the head cheerleader for the football team. She zeroes in on Tony just because he's a hunk, and seems to enjoy that she's making things difficult between him and Cindy.
- Arch-Enemy: Brian Spottiswood to Mikey, due to Mikey almost causing him to flunk high school through his annoying demands as a lab partner.
- Author Appeal: You'd be hard pressed to find a male character in the strip that isn't a statuesque Hercules with impeccably toned muscles.
- Back Story: A few characters, such as Biff and Brad.
- Badass Bookworm: In "Duet To Me", Mikey lays the smackdown on two guys that are twice his size. Evidently, all that exercise isn't just for show.
- Bare Your Midriff: Lisa.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Biff borders on mentally challenged in some cases, and is kept from flunking out due to his wealthy family's contributions from the school, but he is THE best football player they have, and it's implied he's one of the better players on the college scene overall.
- California University: Fictional DeMontfort University. The author had to clarify that it's not at all inspired by the real institute of the same name in the UK.
- Casanova Wannabe: Scott. Ironically, he has no problem attracting women when he doesn't act like a chauvinistic jackass, but he seems to think that's how a playboy is supposed to act.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: While some of the storylines go way overboard because Rule of Funny, the comic does get unexpectedly dark at times, especially towards the very end when Lisa overhears how Mikey really feels about her, which upsets her into running off downtown... only to get assaulted and nearly raped by two burly drunk dudes. This also applies in cases like Brad revealing his self-loathing which stems from his very poor relationship with his father; what started out as Scott trying to get more comedic blackmail material on him ended with him being Brad's Secret Keeper.
- Coming-Out Story: Mikey in "Duet to Me". He only comes out to Lisa though.
- Crossover: Twice, with Funny Farm in the "Occupied" arc, and Suburban Jungle in "Biff-ore And After", which also explains what caused the damage to the third floor of the dorm.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Brad. He's the son of a corrupt banker from Texas, and is studying law in the hopes of one day preventing others from abusing the legal system and the public trust like his father did. The reason he wears his cap everywhere is that both he and his father have a rooster comb, which is rare and makes him and his father look almost identical.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Dani is fond of these, she tends to resort to violence for even the most minor infractions.
- On a less humorous note, Spottiswood does this towards Mikey. Yes, Mikey was a real pain in the ass, but everything Brian does to get revenge on him borders on assault at best and attempted murder at worst.
- Does Not Like Men: Dani comes off as this on occasion due to her role as pretty much the sole authority in Richter Hall, and with the majority of the trouble being caused by the male characters. Most notable is her line about all men being creeps when Biff uses the mascot costume he's wearing as protection from getting slapped by the cheerleaders he tries to use sleazy pickup lines on.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Tony is a combination of this trope, owing to him only recently having gained a serious muscle bulk, and being extremely clumsy. It's caused quite a bit of damage.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The comic adheres to the old Peanuts idea that girls hitting boys is funny, and it's mostly played straight. Dani especially is this trope all over, resorting to cartoonishly hitting the male characters for real or imagined slights. Female characters receiving any sort of physical injury that's played for laughs can be counted on one hand.
- Drives Like Crazy: Kevin, getting a ride from him is a nerve-wracking endeavor, to the point where it becomes a Running Gag. Taken Up to Eleven when he's the driver for a ski-trip he, Tony, Mikey, and Scott take over winter break sophomore year and they have to deal with his reckless driving hundreds of miles up a mountain.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Scott's parents call him "Sprout". He ends up bribing Brad to keep it from being spread around campus.
- Brad looks like Falco Lombardi with the blue and red skin colors swapped.
- DeMontfort University is based on UC Berkeley, Suzukawa's alma mater.
- Fanservice: Mostly involving the male cast, though "Beach Blanket Bungle" and "Poker Strips" have something for everybody.
- Faking the Dead: Ryan and Michelle fake their deaths at the end of Duet To Me and run off to get married under new names
- Farce: "My Funny Valentine". Otherwise avoided.
- Fat Bastard: Molina, a law student and one of the top football players at DeMontfort. He's also a Smug Snake Jerk Ass who manipulates people for his own benefit.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Biff, due to his enormous ego and Jerk Ass tendencies, and Mikey, due to his moralizing and grating perfectionism.
- Friendly Enemy: Algernon. He's the closest the series had to a Big Bad, attacked the dorm with a giant mecha and almost demolished the football stadium, but outside of the ramped-up school rivalry that caused those events, he's a surprisingly genial person, even to his enemies.
- Furries Are Easier to Draw: The FAQ gives a detailed explanation of why the cast are all furry. The main point is that animal faces can be more expressive (ears can move, fur can bristle etc). Also, it creates a comfortable divide from the real world, and problems of racial balance or resemblance to persons living or dead. Vince Suzukawa also demonstrates that he can draw humans and make his characters work in human form. Not to say it's is fun to violate Animal Stereotypes. Like when a mouse bullies a bull.
- Furry Comic
- Gayngst: Mikey reveals that he suffers from some pretty heavy self-image issues due to his closeted homosexuality. Part of his obsessive studying and working out is to distract himself from any possible free time that could lead to an attraction. His theatrical talents are due to him trying to get close to attractive female leads hoping it would change his mind, but he wasn't able to make it work. He's also afraid of proving anyone "right" that the high strung, effeminate guy turned out to be gay. It all adds up to him telling himself to Stop Being Stereotypical, which doesn't end with his coming out to Lisa since while he may now fully accept that part of himself, he still doesn't seem any closer to changing anything else about how he handles it.
- Gender Equals Breed
- Genius Bruiser:
- Scott, who is actually a Math Major and pretty much pulls out a square root of a large number on the spot. He's just not very open about it because, after all, he is a playboy.
- Brad is also this—he's a law major.
- Genki Girl: Lisa.
- Gentle Giant: Tony.
- The Glomp: How Lisa likes to greet Mikey. And any other male she finds cute. Some appreciate it more than others.
- Groin Attack: Sam from Newshounds is on the recieving end of one of these when he gives a sexist diatribe to a personal trainer at the college gym.
- Incompatible Orientation: The real reason Mikey won't reciprocate with Lisa.
- Interspecies Romance:
- Cindy (horse) and Tony (bull), Lisa is a fox/dachshund hybrid who has a crush on a kangaroo (until he comes out) and is dating a bulldog by the end of the strip.
- If you count guest appearances in other comics the closest Mikey has had to a relationship was with a member of his own species (for once).
- On the other side, one piece of Fan Fic (SFW) that Word of God has described as definitely non-canon (but still liked enough to actually illustrate it) has Mikey hook up with an otter.
- Brad, Kevin, Biff and Dani all get portrayed as this, though Brad and Kevin had their nice moments, but Biff's father is arguably the biggest jerkass of the entire cast.
- Going into outright villainous territory we have Molina and Coach Carradine from the football team, both of whom makes Biff look like a boy scout. Carradine is a bullying Jerk Jock who basically pressgangs Tony into playing for DeMontfort, while Molina is a Smug Snake who psychologically tortures Tony to get him stressed and aggressive enough to become violent and reckless on the field.
- Jerk Jock: Biff, Molina and Coach Carradine.
- Left Hanging: The strip was hurriedly wrapped up in its last storyline, leaving several plot threads hanging, such as the future of Tony and Cindy's relationship, and what would happen to the cast afterwards. It also ends with the dorm splitting up, with Tony, Cindy, Kevin and Lisa finding off-campus housing and Brad transferring back home to Texas. Keep in mind that the story concludes with Sophomore Year, leaving quite a bit of story potential unresolved.
- Mad Scientist: Algernon.
- Missing Mom: In "Photo Finish", Brad reveals that his mother died when he was 4 and his father raised him by himself.
- Mistaken for Gay: Brad and Scott are mistaken for gay by Scott's parents.
- Mood Whiplash: "Duet To Me" goes from a lighthearted storyline about Mikey and Lisa playing the main characters in a Grease parody, to a dramatic coming out story for Mikey and Lisa almost getting raped by drunken fratboys.
- The Moorcock Effect: Quite literally, with i.s.o. and its Cast Full of Gay, taking place not only at the same time and at the same university, but in the same dormitory building (albeit on a different floor).
- Mr. Fanservice: Nearly every male cast member is this, but mainly Scott and Tony. In-universe both Tony and Mikey are considered to be this.
- MST: Done in-universe by Kevin to Mikey's puppet show. He even replaces one of the puppets with Tom Servo.
- Must Have Caffeine: Brad won't stay awake for long without a large dose of coffee or cola. He will literally fall asleep on the spot once the clock reaches zero.
- My Beloved Smother: Scott thinks of his doting mother as this. She's actually only slightly overprotective, but nowhere near bad enough to actually qualify for this trope.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When Tony accidentally injures an opposing player while making the winning score during a football match, he has a minor breakdown.
- Nice Guy: Tony.
- Perfumigation: A cologne Biff wears, that he was tricked into buying by a saleswoman who he had been treating like crap, turns out to be so noxious that it's capable of killing insects, which comes in handy during the Resid-Ant Evil arc when the dorm is overrun by flesh-eating devil ants.
- Punny Name: Nearly every major character's last name was a reference to their species. Some were more obvious than others.
- Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Male version. A lifetime of mockery for being overweight until his late teens has led Tony to have serious body image issues, to the point where he's extremely reluctant to accept the attention his current Adonis-like looks give him. His crippling self-esteem issues caused by his controlling family don't help.
- The Reveal: Michelle's mystery fiancé who's mentioned during "No Pain No Gain"? Ryan Spottiswood, the villain from the Bad Chemistry and Nemesis arcs.
- Rock Beats Laser: Due to bad intel, Forrest Tech tailors their giant droid mascot to fend off another robotic opponent, such as EMP waves, water and magnetic weapons, giving Biff and Brad enough of an edge to outmaneuver a 50-foot robot armed with only their own athletic skill.
- Romance Arc: Tony and Cindy were paired as romantic interests, and spend most of the strip's run dancing around each other before finally becoming romantically involved in "My Funny Valentine". Also, Lisa and Damon, who have an instant attraction when they first meet during "The Gridiron" three-parter, but don't officially hook up until the end of "Duet To Me" once Mikey finally spells it out for her that he's not the one for her. Finally, Kevin and Denise by the time the strip wraps up.
- Schedule Fanatic: Mikey. Getting laid up with a bad cold for a week was enough to completely throw him off and send him into panic mode.
- Secret Identity: Brad is actually Eric Hawthorne Jr, son of Eric Hawthorne, a corrupt banker and politician from Texas.
- Secret Keeper:
- Only Scott knows who Brad's father is and why Brad's struggled for so long to get away from him.
- Only Lisa knows Mikey isn't into girls.
- She's Got Legs: Several characters remarks that Cindy has really attractive legs.
- Ship Tease: Brad and Scott are Mistaken for Gay with much hilarity. Also, Dani and Kevin in one VERY early strip, though this didn't lead anywhere.
- Sorry, I'm Gay: Mikey.
- Spicy Latina: Danielle Rosalina "Dani" Murrieta is an example of the confrontational, tomboyish type.
- "Stop Having Fun" Guys: In-Universe: Mikey writes a puppet show titled Fun Is a Waste of Time and pretty much devotes his entire life to either exercising or studying. It all turns out to be his way of distracting himself from finding dudes attractive.
- Straight Gay: Mikey. Kind of debatable since he does also admit to fulfilling the more effeminate gay stereotypes, which is part of what made him fearful of embracing his homosexuality since he didn't want to prove homophobes right.
- Earlier public drafts of TCM had some of the male characters regularly wearing considerably less, especially Brad in his shorts and tank top that left little to the imagination. But the final version of TCM has him wearing a full flannel shirt. This probably actually adds to his fanservice effect as the shirt leaves much more to the big tough guy image.
- Subverted, and pointed out by the creator of Funny Farm in a guest strip, some characters actually worked in the reverse, with Scott's everyday clothing going from a button up shirt, to a black t shirt, to a tank top, as well as Biff ceasing to wear any shirts at all.
- Team Mom: As the dorm's RA, Dani sees herself as this. Her charges mostly find her annoying and unnecessarily obsessed with school activities.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Lisa for Mikey. But it's not mutual.
- Walking Techbane: Brad. Every machine he touches that isn't related to making coffee will die in a spectacular manner. He doesn't even have to touch them. On one memorable occasion a microwave spontaneously exploded when he just mentioned it; it was trying to protect itself.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In the "No Thanks to You" arc, Brad gives Scott a reaming for his ungrateful behavior towards his family.
- Damon delivers one of these (along with a sucker punch to the gut) to Mikey when he's more concerned about continuing rehearsal than going after the despondent Lisa who just overheard Mikey say that he thinks she's overbearing and obsessive.
- Worthy Opponent: Kevin sees Brad as this. When he explains this to Brad, their relationship noticeably improves. Kevin is also the only one who knows the truth about Brad's real identity and the reason for why he wears his trucker hat constantly.
- Your Mom: Tony tells Brad and Kevin to stop using "your mom" insults against each other because "neither of you like your mothers". They immediately switch to "your roomie" jokes targeted at Tony—their mutual roommate.