Webcomic / This Is Not Fiction

...Something like that. (Certain relationships—say, atop a horse—may be exaggerated. Others...may not.)

THIS IS NOT FICTION is a webcomic chronicling a high-schooler's quest to profess his love to an anonymous romance novelist. It was originally published in 2007 and eventually orphaned, but one of the creators rebooted the comic at the end of 2010, to the great pleasure of fans.

TINF stars Julian Drees, a diminutive 17-year-old who has developed an obsession with Sydney Morgan after reading her novel This Is Not Fiction. Witnessing his disappointment at not being able to meet her at a book signing, Julian's best friend Isaiah takes him to the Godfather of Highschool to ask for help in determining the author's true identity. But to Julian's dismay, the Godfather is none other than his own next-door neighbour and arch-enemy, Landon!

...After a bunch of hijinks that leads the trio (and on occasion, Selby!) to hang out together more, Julian and Landon's past friendship comes to light, and eventually, the reason why they grew apart. As the two begin repairing their relationship in the midst of their misadventures (perhaps, slowly, kindling something else), it might turn out that in the end, what Juls really learns about throughout his elaborate quest is just that—friendship, and what love really is ("the real, not obsessed kind," as the comic's about puts it).

Just maybe, theirs is a story about growing up.

Starting off in its early archive, still found here, it moved to Inkblazers/Mangamagazine in 2013 until the site closed down in early 2015. It has since moved to Hiveworks, and can be read here. The comic is available in Spanish as well (though as of 2015 long outdated), and has had a Formspring. What exists of the very first incarnation of the comic can still be read on deviantArt.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with, although Julian's mother married a good guy, she states clearly her love for bad boys and is actually supportive of Julian and Landon's relationship, since she thinks they are dating too.
  • Ambiguous Gender: While Julian is positively convinced that Sydney Morgan is a woman, Landon and Isaiah are quick to point out that she could possibly be a man.
  • The Artifact: Landon's brattier personality from the 2007 incarnation—being the type to make light of and using as an insult the term "gay"—is initially carried over in a much more subdued fashion to the 2010 and onward reboot (getting rid of his Armoured Closet Gay phobic reactions), but becomes obsolete after about a dozen chapters as the revamped series Grows the Beard and Landon's character becomes more firmly established.
    • The entire quest for Sidney Morgan becomes pretty much a background for Julian and Landon's Will They Wont They, with a bit of Coming-of-Age Story for Julian. It's outright recognized between the characters that Julian interest in Sidney Morgan is slowly dropping, with him becoming much more interested in simply spending time with his friends, particularly Landon.
  • Artifact Title: The 2007 incarnation of the comic goes into detail about how This Is Not Fiction by Sydney Morgan is Julian's favourite book. In the reboot the book is much less important, only serving to make him fall in love with the author, and the title is never given.
  • Art Evolution: Inevitably a great deal between the 2007 incarnation and the 2010 and onward reboot incarnation, although the reboot itself takes large leaps between chapter 1 to 10, not to even touch its quality by 20. Not only does the art style assume a much more cartoonish look while at the same time maintaining better proportions and related improvements, the characters are slightly different in look and personality as well.
    • Most drastically, instead of the short of stature chubby Tsundere we come to know and love in the longer-running 2010 incarnation, Julian in the 2007 incarnation is a taller, thinner, more conventional Bishōnen (of a sort) with a deadpan personality that seems to react to Landon's existence and pestering with a Flat "What." more often than not. While Landon and Isaiah look more alike, some significant overhauls center around them as well, as seen under Characterization Marches On.
  • Art Shift: The first chapter is in black-and-white, but the rest of the comic is in colour for many chapters—till circumstances led it to return to black and white for quicker releases.
  • Bi the Way: Early on, Landon makes an awful lot of passes at Julian, but they're generally played off as him trying to get under his skin. After the story becomes serious, it becomes more overt that he's had a crush for a long time (though he won't admit it), and Isaiah even says he does to his face. In the same manner, while Landon's only shown with and around girls in the beginning, later it becomes well-established that he's open about also being attracted to men.
  • Big Damn Kiss: After a lot of dancing around, Landon and Julian finally kiss on chapter 23.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: It looks at one point as if the series might move towards this. A Stalker Without A Crush is spying and badmouthing Landon. Julian finds the blog and tries to find the blogger, meanwhile Landon is aware of it and tries to stay away from Julian to not have him badmouthed in the blog. It ends with them avoiding each other for a while (made worse by Isaiah who comes to the conclusion during that chapter that Landon is bad for them and by Julian's father who forbids him any contact with Landon). But Julian's protective nature regarding Landon (as well as Julian understanding that Landon's deliquent side may come from loneliness) fixes things naturally at one point.
  • The Cameo: As the creators of TINF, Best Friends Forever, and Todd Allison & the Petunia Violet are friends, their respective characters make occasional cameos each other's comics (for example, Cecil from TAPV cameos in TINF, while Landon cameos in TAPV). In TINF the cameos of characters from BFFComic become borderline crossovers, however, as they wind up integrated during their occasional appearances into the plot, seeming to be 15 years (or so) older counterparts. For example, since early on in TINF, Vincent has often been referenced as a well-known actor, and later Teddy winds up a guest lecturer at Isaiah's girlfriend's university. And topping the both of their cameos, Louis has been appearing in the comic since the very beginning, and turns out even further integrated as someone in the publishing industry who works with Sydney Morgan. Later on he and Vincent appear together.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: After Juls and Isaiah get caught up in Landon's scheme of trying to steal another school's mascot (due to the basketball team practically coercing him, though he never tells anybody this) and they get in trouble with the police (whereupon Juls' dad turns out to be an officer), the comic takes on a more serious tone, though still with splashes of humor in it. And as Juls' and Landon's friendship becomes repaired, Landon's obvious crush on Juls is addressed directly by Isaiah, and the storyline between the two is taken not only more seriously but becomes more important than Sydney Morgan.
  • Character Development: And how! Landon changes greatly from the delinquent he'd become in middle school once his and Julian's friendship begins to heal, as pointed out by Isaiah (as well as his obvious crush). Julian too takes great strides from the boy he starts out at in the beginning, considering his friends more and worrying over them, especially Landon. His greatest stride is placing them over Sydney Morgan, whom he seems to be getting over.
  • Characterization Marches On: As noted under Art Evolution, Julian's appearance and personality differ significantly between the 2007 incarnation and 2010 and onward reboot incarnation, going from a conventionally attractive beleaguered Kuudere to a short and chubby Tsundere.
    • Noticeably, Isaiah is Landon's close friend in the 2007 incarnation, and initially hesitant to let Landon befriend Julian, and more prone to overlook his behavior as his friend (despite admitting to thinking Landon's selfish behavior is "sick"), in stark contrast to his revamped incarnation whereupon not only is he Julian's best friend, he's the reason Landon and Julian both meet again, and is later shown to be protective of Julian and more wary of Landon (because of his getting the trio involved in his misdemeanors).
    • As for Landon, in the 2007 incarnation he's more-so of a Book Dumb Plucky Comic Relief than his Obfuscating Stupidity reboot counterpart, though both suck at putting effort into school projects. More significantly, 2007!Landon is very prone to acting bratty, calling Julian "gay" as a means to insult him for liking a romance novel, and using the term frivolously as a joke. Unlike previous plot points, early chapters of the 2010 incarnation contain remnants of Landon's behavior in 2007 incarnation in a lighter (less cringe-worthy) tone, but these are eventually phased out, with Landon turning out openly Bi the Way.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Landon mistook Julian for a very pretty girl when they first met as kids.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: It becomes well-established that Landon is open about his sexuality and interest in men as well as women, which makes how easily he'd do things like call Julian "gay" for being the type to visit the library in very early chapters seem jarring, as he'd be more the type to make jokes about flirting with a male librarian instead after a dozen chapters or so. This is due the reboot originally carrying over a very subdued version of 2007!Landon's personality (taking out its Armoured Closet Gay phobic aspects), before Growing the Beard and developing Landon into the bisexual Dork with a Heart of Gold we know and love today.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Julie.
  • Everyone Can See It: By the time the story takes a turn a little more than a dozen chapters in, basically everyone knows Landon likes Julian A LOT. Julian seems to reflect those feelings back in a lightly Tsundere manner, though neither have said anything to the other yet.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While stalking her in a restaurant, Julian quickly assumed that the man Sydney Morgan was with was her date, leading to several misadventures in the attempt to deduce whether or not she was married. What he didn't notice was that the man was wearing stereotypical bodyguard attire and that he wasn't actually dining with her, and he doesn't respond to Mitch and Isaiah pointing this out to him.
  • Fangirl: Leslie, for Sydney Morgan. Julian would be too.
  • Foreshadowing: For the identity of Sydney Morgan. Obviously major spoilers, but from very early on, a page makes it apparent that Shelby and Landon are hiding something from Isaiah and Juls. Louis, in his reappearance, drags Landon away for a conversation Juls can't make out as Isaiah's girlfriend talks to Teddy. In his first appearance, after Isaiah and Juls run away from Louis within the publishing firm, Landon disappears for a long time. It happens again much later after the talk show they all went to watch where Sydney Morgan guest-starred next to Vincent. Sydney Morgan...who turns out to be Louis in disguise, protecting a young client. This is learned after Landon checks them into the expensive hotel Vincent and Louis are staying at, and assures that for Juls' sake, he could get them into a VIP party hosted by Louis wherein the real Sydney Morgan should appear, somehow. Include Landon's occasional quips back to Juls over being Sydney Morgan, passed of as jokes, and Selby's thumb barely hiding "— Addison" as the real name of Sydney Morgan on her phone when looking up Louis, and...
  • Friendly Enemy: Julian often declares his distaste for Landon and that he is his "enemy", yet they fall back into quite good terms. Their history between late middle school till Isaiah brings them together again in high school explains why their former friendship changed as much as it did though, owing to the start of Landon's delinquent behavior and Juls' policeman father.
  • Full-Name Basis: Sydney Morgan is always Sydney Morgan.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Sydney Morgan, to fit her Ambiguous Gender.
  • Happily Adopted: Landon was adopted, though since his adoptive father is "too old", he refers to him as Grandpa. ...It turns out their relationship may be colder and more difficult at this point in his life, as revealed with the words from Landon's grandfather that Juls' father reiterates to Juls after Landon is arrested late in middle school—"Keep him for a few days, he deserves it."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Landon, who despite being well-known as a delinquent with an arrest record and insisting they hide the secret of Sydney Morgan even as Selby frets about deceiving their friends, though it's possibly over anxiety about how Juls would react—cooks Julian deliciously elaborate food just to see his happy expression (it's implied he adds a lot of fruit to everything just for him), engages in adventures just to be beside him (to the point of cornering himself into getting them all into a VIP party Sydney Morgan is supposed to attend, which troubles him), and tries to cheer a sad Juls up by giving him likely hard-to-acquire gifts like a ticket to a talk show co-interviewing both Sydney Morgan and Vincent Fawkes, the famous actor Juls keeps mentioning. So really, a Dork with a Heart of Gold, as Isaiah and most people come to understand.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Julian is constantly wearing cat-print clothes.
  • Medium Blending: The comic itself is drawn digitally in SAI, but the chapter covers are all photographs using paper cut-outs of the characters.
  • Mythology Gag: The poem Landon wrote in the original comic makes a reappearance in the current version as the song he writes for Julian.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Isaiah and his smile, which he can use to lull people into thinking he has no problems with them.
  • Oblivious to Love: Hilariously, Landon! While practically everybody realizes Landon's crush on Juls, by chapter 20, as he and Landon grow ever closer, Juls becomes more aware of and pays attention to his friends' circumstance, caring more about them than their search for Sydney Morgan. He gives subtle yet in-your-face indications of returning Landon's feelings—at one point even saying "yes you should!" to Landon suggesting he "should step up his game"—every moment of which leaves Landon confused or bemused. It's possible a part of this is due to not being able to believe Juls could love him back the same way, however. Later in the chapter, he finally does start to get a clue, and rather adorably.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At one point, a lot of things happen at the same time that end with Julian being very depressed. At first, both Isaiah and Landon expect him to just bounce back after a bit of pampering and teasing, only to be extremely shocked when he refuses their attempts. It takes a lot of effort on Landon's side to get Juls back to normal and finally seeing him gleeful again does visibly relieve his friends.
  • Out of Focus: Isaiah gets less focus after chapter 20. Due to baseball season, he starts having to train more and spend more time with his jock friends, who hate Julian, something Isaiah doesn't realizes and Julian doesn't want to tell him. After that he only appears to show his disapprove of Julian and Landon's possible romantic involvement.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: There's nothing suspicious about this family...
  • Reclusive Artist: invoked Sydney Morgan, to the point of using a gay bar as her fake address.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Mrs Drees is so excited by the prospect of Julian having a friend that she simply ignores all of Landon's bullying behaviour and Julian's objections.
  • Shipper on Deck: Isaiah for Landon and Julian. He changes his mind at one point though since he feels worried, it might be unhealthy for at least one of them. But once he notices, they are already too deep into it, he dismisses trying to break them up.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Julian has a highly romanticized idea of meeting with Sydney Morgan, and Isaiah and Landon actually trying to aid him in being able to talk to her kicks off the plot.
  • Stalker Without A Crush: Landon got one who is having a whole blog dedicated to writing about what he does, all with photographs and comments about how disgusting he is. He is aware of it and doesn't care until the blog starts attacking Julian as well for always being around him.
  • Tender Tears: Julian is brought to tears quite easily.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Julian's quite innocent in describing how he feels about waiting around for Landon to finish writing a song ("This is awkward", "He won't go faster"), but his desperate texts are vague enough for Isaiah to assume otherwise ("Just ask him to be gentle").
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Everybody accuses Landon of being this to Julian, but it's actually quite the opposite, Julian is a positive influence on Landon's life. As Isaiah mentioned, the amount of times he got arrested dropped from 5 to one and the amount of cigarettes he smoked was cut in half.
  • Transplant: Of sorts. Vincent Fawkes and Louis Lindberg are basically older counterparts from the characters of Best Friends Forever. Since the comic was discontinued by the author, they could be considered this.
  • Tsundere: Julian is a light example, yelling (while blushing) a lot around Landon and occasionally throwing a pillow and the like at his face, but as the comic goes on he ultimately showcases a lot of worry over him.
  • Unrequited Love: Landon believes this to be his situation with Julian. It's not.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Sydney Morgan, though not quite played straight. She turns out to be Louis in disguise, the man who catches the trio traipsing through the publishing firm in the beginning, but he's only doing this to protect the identity of a client who can't come out in public.
  • Will They or Won't They?: As the comic progresses, it becomes very apparent that Landon is actually something of a loser (in love), with basically everyone aware of his crush on Julian. Julian's reactions are also priceless (a lot of blushing and yelling) when people insinuate he and Landon are doing coupley things—insinuations that are often made. It comes to the point where even Isaiah assumes they're already dating, but while the atmosphere around their bickering has become lighter, they're still both dancing around the subject.
  • Unsound Effect: Many. "NAKED", "HACKED", and "CRIMINAL" are among the straight examples, but even the regular sound effects are normally just verbs with letters removed ("SMK" [smack], "WBBLE" [wobble], "GRB" [grab]).
  • Unusual Eyebrows: Landon has Big Ol' Eyebrows with an eyebrow piercing (he at one point even advertises himself "a guy with round eyebrows"), and Isaiah's single eyebrow is a family-wide trait.