Webcomic: Times Like This
Taking the Space-Time Continuum, and ripping it a new hole.
Times Like This
She doesn't waste time – She recycles it.
is a webcomic created by Thomas Overbeck. It is, as the author
puts it succinctly, a webcomic "about time travel, and all the fun and interesting stuff involved with it. It's also about lampooning historical figures and speculating humorously on current celebrities."
In short – it's a "Comedy of Eras."
The main character is Cassie Wells (whose name
is doubly appropriate
, all things considered), a young female genius who discovers the ability to travel through time. She works at a high-tech lab in the Dallas area specializing in Nanotechnology.
She has two friends helping her with her travels: Matt Gahan, an electronics expert whom Cassie befriended when he worked at the travel agency next door; and her best friend from school, Bethany Gibson.
She lives in the greater Dallas area along with husband Philip Webber, their new-born son Evan Theodore
Webber, her pet dinosaur
Mascus, and her MIRA-7 robot
, named Nicki
Her travels are "monitored" by the Federal government - but not how you'd expect. Agent Keith Scott
has been assigned by the FBI to keep tabs on her - and help her keep her secret.
This webcomic provides examples of:
- A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll":
- Accidental Misnaming: Myrtlinicus' introduction to King Arthur gets cut off in mid-name. Later, Arthur calls him "Merlin", which he is perfectly fine with.
- Acid Trip Dimension: During Cassie's visit to the original Woodstock.
- Adventures in the Bible: Cassie witnesses firsthand the birth of Jesus, while Matt has some fun with the dead, decapitated Goliath.
- Affectionate Parody: Examples include the cast discussing what could've happened in Star Wars or Gilligan's Island; the cast re-enacting the opening to a TV show; or various commercials redone with historical figures.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The time machine itself.
- Art Evolution: Compare and contrast a crude, unevenly drawn strip from 2007... and a more refined work in 2012. (And at times, the author may pull a George Lucas and retool an earlier strip if he thinks the end product really sucked in hindsight.)
- Art Shift: Thanks to guest artist Halo Seraphim, Cassie looks quite artistically different once she arrives in Japan.
- Ascended Extra / Promoted to Love Interest: Philip Webber started out as a casual acquaintance on a Second Life-ish virtual world. After an in-person meet-up and various arguments, breakups and near-death experiences, he's become Cassie's steady boyfriend... and as a result showed up on the cast page by the end of 2011 (and after marrying her, he's now #2 on the cast listings).
- Author Avatar: The creator showing up at a comic convention or a renaissance festival.
- Autodoc: The "Symptomatic" auto-diagnosis machines of the future.
- Babies Make Everything Better: As of January 6, 2014.
- Bar Brawl: This strip (and the one after that).
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Nicki. She's not a sexbot, you see.
- "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Here and here.
- Been There, Shaped History (or what the author likes to call "Gumpification"): Sometimes Cassie or Matt accidentally do this, with the result ending up as inspiration for a pop song, the wording of a document, or a fad.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Matt & Bethany. They always seemed at odds with each other, until...
- Bouquet Toss: This strip, though only the unwitting recipient is shown.
- Brain Bleach: What Bethany's wanting after Cassie describes herself getting intimate with Uncle Miltie. (Which leads to a Big "Shut Up!".)
- Break the Cutie: Cassie's first romantic encounter (and virginity loss) was with Allen, as documented in a dinner conversation with Chad. They flirted together during a school field trip, got enamored with each other, and sneaked away to an empty motel room for a sexual fling. However, Allen never got around to asking how old Cassie was, figuring she was 15, when actually she was 13. And once they were caught in bed, the resulting parental firestorm shocked Cassie into an asexual antisocial shell until she went to college.
- Brick Joke: To understand this comic, you have to go all the way back here.
- Burn the Witch!: Apparently almost happened to Cassie in Salem (somehow).
- Butterfly of Doom: What happens if Cassie tells someone about the time machine, and they can't keep the secret? This.
- In this strip, Matt actually takes a butterfly from the present and releases it 500 years in the past. Which has dire consequences for Apple Computer.
- Call Back: There've been a few "repeated scenes" in the comic; one of them happening to be Cassie's first day at TerCon.
- This strip in itself is a call back to a few previous strips (and storylines).
- Casual Time Travel
- Cerebus Syndrome
- Class Reunion: The "Takin' Her Back To The Old School" storyline.
- Clothes Make The Pooper-Man: ANED-enhanced underwear in 2071.
- Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit: This is implied as to how Cassie makes all that extra side money. However, it is mentioned when she talks about getting time-transplant Maggie settled into modern times.
- Cosplay: Or at least that's what people THINK all those costumes in her garage are for.
- Played straight with Philip; he mentions his cosplaying in his first in-person meetup with Cassie.
- Couch Gag: The title graphic in the comic, usually themed after a reference in the strip or the general gist of the story.
- Country Matters: This is one webcomic that doesn't shy away from that C-word. In fact, this strip highlights one of its supposed origins.
- Crash-Into Hello: How Cassie first met Elvis.
- David Versus Goliath: The actual original showdown. And Matt's a witness.
- Development Gag: The rock from the original idea appears in "Behind the Necklace" story.
- DFW Metroplex
- Drag Queen: Matt as the original "Sweet Transvestite".
- Elaborate Underground Resort: Paratopia!
- Entendre Failure: Matt, in the Old West, tells a saloon belle she could "pull a train". Guess what she does.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Cassie's father breaks up a fight between her and her mother. ...and brings up his wife's cancer sooner than intended.
- Ethical Slut: Cassie. And she states her case here.
- Everything's Funkier with Disco: Here and here.
- Fanfic: Old Main is a short story of two college students who use a time machine to recover plans for an experiment that were lost in a massive fire decades ago. Cassie and Agent Scott show up as key players in the plot.
- Also This Time, a short story told from the point of view of Cassie's brother Patrick.
- Fantastic Time Management: Cassie is a master of this.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: This comic not only has time travelling, but also humanoid androids, dinosaurs, and aliens.
- Feghoot: Cassie tells a tale of her old classmate Eli, which turns into a Shout-Out to Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis.
- Fictional Holiday: Cassie attempts to create "Cattle Bell Day" in 1853 (this also doubles as a Shout-Out to Opie And Anthony).
- Finger Twitching Revival: How we know Philip survived a fiery blast.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Cassie tends to subvert this, mostly because of her large cosplay collection.
- Maggie Harper, an Irish girl from the middle ages saved by Cassie.
- Joan Arquette, aka Joan of Arc. Yes, really.
- Free-Love Future: Nicki's seen the future... and after the human incubator is invented, there's another sexual revolution.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Happens a few times, but since it's not a Hentai-type comic, it's not the focus.
- Fun with Acronyms: From "I, Ro-Hot":
Nicki (to Matt): "Only the Cybernetic Libido Interactive Technology" line has anatomically accurate genitalia... and I am NOT a C.L.I.T. model.
- Future Slang: "Zmerding Like Crazy", "squinch the cake", "Bwageeahh!!!" (as an exclamation), and "What the glurtz, people?", to name a few.
- Game Show Appearance: This strip.
- Genre Savvy: Cassie knows pretty much from the day she began time traveling that she needed to keep it a secret. Agent Scott just helped things along.
- Gilligan Cut: Subverted in the Christmas Tree search of 2009.
Cassie: I'm not gonna go Christmas tree shopping and there's nothing you can do about it!!!
Cut to tree lot
- Giving Radio to the Romans: Ever wonder how Robin Hood managed to shoot arrows with such great accuracy?
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: During Cassie's first pregnancy, she's not sure she wants to keep it. When Nicki suggests aborting the baby, she doesn't want to do that... but she isn't ready for experiencing childbirth, either. Thanks to her ability to visit the future, however, she's able to Take a Third Option with a human incubator.
- Green Rock: Literally.
- Historical-Domain Character: Used on a regular basis. Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, William Shakespeare... the list goes on and on.
- Historical In-Joke: The overriding theme of the comic.
- Hot Scientist: Cassie, of course. Not to mention she's a former Teen Genius who graduated high school two years early, and got her Master's Degree in Physics only five years later.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: After Agent Scott hears some strange news about the future.
- I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: Napoleon probably had no idea why Matt asked him to hold a bunch of (unlit) dynamite.
- Imagine Spot: Cassie dreams of the ultimate pet trick: a dog jumping through a time-hoop, from The Ed Sullivan Show to The Late Show with David Letterman.
- It Will Never Catch On:
- It's a Wonderful Plot: The "It's A Wonderful Nightlife" storyline done in conjunction with the Tiki Coladas webcomic, in which Cassie shows Kat, who just split from her boyfriend, all the things her man did for her.
- Jeanne d'Archétype: Joan Arquette.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: Many a time to Cassie, especially after it forced her to break up with both Chad and Allen.
- Kid from the Future: Every once in a while Cassie's great-granddaughter Julie will show up.
- Land Mine Goes Click: This strip.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Oh please... It's not even worthy of a half-assed COMIC STRIP!"
- Lysistrata Gambit: Implied in this strip.
- Made of Explodium: The collection of "strange waters" that Myrtlinicus a.k.a. Merlin kept from the days of the Roman Empire. It would later trigger The Reveal as to what the place he called home really was.
- Magical Particle Accelerator: Cassie's workplace has their own atom smasher, which Cassie uses to forge the critical time-travel element.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Cassie went back to 1991 and unknowingly slept with Rodney, which nullified his relationship with Maggie in the present time.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Cassie can attest to this, especially with her relationships with exes Chad and Allen. She subverts it in other ways, of course.
- Master of Disguise: Agent Scott.
- Meaningful Name: Cassie (officially from "Casio, makers of timepieces among other electronics") Lorraine Wells (no relation). (Oh yeah, and Webber too.)
- The Men in Black: Agent Scott, Complete with neuralyzer.
- Mistaken for Masturbating: It's not "pocket rocket" action, Cassie's just wetting her panties in the car! ...wait, what?
- Mistaken for Pregnant: Subverted in the "One In The Oven" storyline. Cassie's conceived a baby, but he's in an incubator in a closet, and she wants her and Philip's family to think she's pregnant when they come over for Thanksgiving.
- Naked People Are Funny: Cassie and Philip trying to live like Adam and Eve. The storyline starts here (and the nakedness starts here).
- Nerds Are Sexy: Come on; a hot babe like her with a pink camisole under a lab coat, talking about having sex on a conference table? (Also contains an example of a Necktie Leash.)
- Nipple and Dimed: Occasionally. For the most part, there isn't really an effort to conceal nudity, but there are times like, um, this, where Cassie would instinctively want to cover herself up.
- Not What It Looks Like: This strip features the rare variant where what's really going on is even more embarrassing than what was assumed.
- Now I Know How an X Feels: "Now I know how Emmett Brown felt back in 1955." - Cassie after watching a video of herself three years into the future, before buying a house in 1967.
- The Nudifier: A very random combination of the time machine, a car, and a cotton field.
- Oh, Crap: Two examples.
- Oireland: Maggie Harper, a direct import from medieval Dublin, by the way. And don't get on her bad side if she's inebriated.
- Origins Episode: The "Behind The Necklace" storyline.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Cassie invents "Voljack" — and goes back a century to put it in the dictionary — all just to win a "Words With Friends" game.
- Potty Failure: Subverted in the "Cassandra's Secret" storyline. In the future, everyone will poop their pants... but their nanotech-enhanced underwear will instantly vaporize the excrement.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Two! Instances!
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The week before the actual 2008 Texas Longhorns / Oklahoma Sooners football matchup, Cassie & Rodney made a humiliation bet on the outcome. What happened next in the strip was contingent on who won the game. (Texas did... but what WOULD have taken place if Oklahoma won can be found here.◊)
- Reality Is Unrealistic / Retroactive Precognition: When she describes the future to people in the present... or past.
- Really Gets Around: Cassie takes this trope Up to Eleven, not only for the number of sexual conquests she's had, but definitely for the span of time that she's been able to choose her partners from, stretching from caveman times to the present.
- Relationship Upgrade / They Do: Cassie and Philip got married in 2013. The wedding storyline starts here.
- Research, Inc.: Cassie's employer TerCon Technologies, a nanotech laboratory. The products that she says "may happen in the future" at the conventions (see Running Gag below) are generally ones she's actually witnessed while time-tripping in the future.
- Ridiculously Human Robot / Robot Buddy / Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: The ever-versatile Nicki.
- Running Gag: Cassie the Sooner vs. Rodney the Longhorn.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules! / Secretly Wealthy: Although Cassie has amassed a tidy sum of money thanks to a few Compound Interest Time Travel Gambits, she doesn't live an extravagant lifestyle with huge mansions or fancy luxury cars, preferring to keep her nanotech job. Knowing her family isn't in on her time travel secret, she knows that living like the rich and famous would arouse suspicion over a) what kind of shady lifestyle she may have beyond her nanotech career, or b) the time travel secret itself.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Subverted in the story arc with Jake Holland and Vietnam, but played straight with the rescue of Joan of Arc using a realistic human-looking movie prop. Also with the rescue of her boyfriend Philip and her co-worker Maggie.
- Shout-Out: Cassie uses the passcode "Rufus" for her fembot, Nicki. She also uses the names of other famous time travelers, like Doc (Emmett) Brown, Jules Verne, and, of course, H. G. Wells.
- Sorry to Interrupt: Cassie's home, so she goes back in time to get an extra few hours of sleep. ...and catches Matt & Bethany in bed.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Subverted here.
- Speechbubbles Interruption: A couple of examples:
- Take Your Time: The whole story arc surrounding the purchase of her house is an example of this.
- Telegraph Gag STOP: It's either "TNI"... or Matt's playing "Who Let The Dogs Out" on the telegraph machine.
- Temporal Paradox: Somewhat subverted. Cassie isn't afraid to "meet" herself in the past... with all the squick that comes along with that.
- ¡Three Amigos!: Cassie, Matt and Bethany were the focus of the comic until Philip moved in.
- This Is My Boomstick: Evidently some ancient Mayans saw Matt play with his smartphone.
- This Is the Part Where...: "And here is the part that made me say 'I don't know how to tell you this'...",
- Time Travel: Of course.
- Time Travel Escape: Joan of Arc has a new life because of this.
- Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Of course, of course. It is how Cassie funds many of her travels... and you know how bad inflation could get in the future.
- Time Travel Tense Trouble: "...has will have been visited..."
- Timey-Wimey Ball: The rules of time travel are constantly in flux, depending upon the relevancy to the plot. Word of God does say that the MST3K Mantra is in full effect here.
- Trope Overdosed: Intentionally done here as a Shout-Out to the TV Tropes site. The rundown:
- Tuckerization: The creator is fond of giving minor characters or businesses the names of friends, relatives or past acquaintances.
- Unobtainium: AKA Sesquicentium, the "rock" that drives the time machine.
- Uterine Replicator: The human incubator was invented in the 2040's and scientists figured out how to safely extract the fetus to finish gestation in said replicator by the time it was marketed in 2055. After becoming affordable, this spawned a new sexual revolution and woman's liberation.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: References to world history and late-20th-century pop culture abound, with the occasional obscure gag (like the Tempest video game or UTFO's "Roxanne Roxanne").
- Wall of Text: A good example from 2008 (before they went with a smaller typeface - and simpler dialogue).
- Waxing Lyrical:
- Way Past the Expiration Date: Subverted, of course. Who cares what others might think when they see expiration dates from 1983? Everything's cheaper in the past!
- We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Thanks to Ready Remedy vending machines, dispensing medicine that completely cures over 25,000 ailments.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Bethany's initial reaction to Cassie trapping Agent Scott in the 16th century.
- What's Up, King Dude?: Cassie seems to have no trouble gaining access to Julius Caesar, King Henry VIII or Napoleon.
- You! Exclamation: Found in the Superman comic that Matt wrote.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Usually a staple of future fashion in the TLT-verse, along with many an Improbable Hairstyle.
- You Watch Too Much X: From the "Miami Time Machine" storyline:
Cassie (reading from a card)
: The body washed up two hours ago... blunt force trauma indicates she was killed before she hit the water! Matt:
Well, Frank, it looks like her luck... (puts on shades)
just got washed away. (plays "Won't Get Fooled Again" on iPod)
He's been watching too much CSI: Miami
, hasn't he...
- Young Future Famous People: Cassie checks in on preschooler-age Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.