"I am just a weak-minded child trying to survive in a culture where the highest thing a person can aspire to is knowing a lot about music."
— Unwinder, a possibly non-canon, but still pretty accurate, self-assessment
Unwinder's Tall Comics is a metafictionalMagic RealismSlice of Life webcomic by Wilson "Eli" Parker, also known as the creator of Powerup Comics. The comic is a satire of modern youth culture—particularly the oversaturation of trivialities and entertainment—and an Affectionate Parody of suburban Minnesota.At the heart of the comic is Unwinder, a kid who's clearly a little too Genre Savvy for his own good: wildly inventive, yet completely incapable of recognizing the fine line between creativity and idiocy. He thinks rock bands should play pranks on the audience instead of music. He consumes entertainment solely so he can reference it in his conversations. He sends unsolicited scripts for TV ads to Taco Bell. He invents internet memes, then invents webcomics solely to spread these memes. He is, in short, a product of the Information Age Gone Horribly Right.Rounding out the central cast are Unwinder's eternally cheerful girlfriend, Mildred; his friend and punching bag, Barbecue Sauce; and the Only Sane Man, Horse-Man.There is no overarching plot, though the humor is becoming increasingly dependent on continuity. The comic updates irregularly, usually on Saturdays.It also features what may possibly be the best parody of TV Tropes, ever.
Art Shift: Honestly, it would be easier to list all the pages that don't feature this.
Anti-Humor: Unwinder's box of rejected ideas includes "Normal Al", who parodies "Weird Al" Yankovic by doing straight cover versions of every song that Weird Al parodied as well as rewriting Weird Al's original songs to be completely serious.
Unwinder: Ever heard of the Rastov test? Barbecue Sauce: Is that like where a book or movie is only good if it has less than four warring factions, and they have to say at least one sentence that isn't full of made-upspace jargon?
Beige Prose: A defining feature of Sonty Mick's writing (and that of his relatives, like Sontford Mickhouse and Soncho Michez).
Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Barbecue Sauce writes "Tesla fics", in which characters from fiction turn out to be an immortal Nikola Tesla in disguise. According to Felicity, this is a popular enough fanfic subgenre to have entire websites devoted to it.
B Side Comics: Apocalyptus: Thrift and Peril, Your Guess is as Good as Mine.
Canon Welding: Many prior works by Parker have been rolled into Tall Comics: Shadow and Chug, Sonty Mick, and a brief appearance by the cast of his old sci-fi comic Too Far.
Cool Old Guy: Horse-Man is one of the few people whom Unwinder actually respects.
Diegetic Switch: Discussed. In Nathan Blaine's film Elite Force Vampire: "a vampire spy has a tiny gun hidden inside an iPod. There's no trigger. To fire, you have to play Evanescence music, which becomes the soundtrack."
Dodgy Toupee: In comic 126, Unwinder notices Dr. Minivan not wearing his wig. Turns out lice now live inside the wig and became sentient because of Dr. Minivan's drug testing.
Don't Like, Don't Read: invoked Felicity's default response to Unwinder's criticisms of Your Guess is as Good as Mine. Unwinder throws it right back at her.
Felicity: That's just your opinion. Thanks, but I'm going to keep doing things my own way, thank you. If you don't like it, just stop reading.
Unwinder: You know, if you don't like my comments, you don't have to read them.
Unwinder: Doc, pick a masculine thing to learn about, or I'll pick one for you. Dr. Minivan: Well, I've heard good things about using duct tape for various tasks. Unwinder: Excellent choice! Horse-Man, go over to Hardware Hank and get this guy a roll of duct tape large enough to compensate for something.
Easy Evangelism: Prudence does this in the saved-fics (fanfiction in which the protagonist suddenly becomes a hardcore Christian) she writes.
Felicity: Usually, the result is that the characters' lives are improved, and all of their problems go away. Unwinder: Man, what the heck? Does Prudence actually want to watch a version of House where everyone gets along? What would the show even be about? Medicine?
Tokyo Delta Jetlag D, a weird anime that Unwinder and Barbecue Sauce enjoy.
The War of the Seven Stars, a Space Opera novel series. Incredibly epic, and incredibly dull.
After Dark, a wildly successful series of teen novels featuring romantic zombies.
Flanderization: Played with in this strip. Unwinder has a dream that "you and I were fictional characters, and our personalities were really broad and predictable!" Then, in the waking world, Unwinder and Barbecue Sauce subvert their usual character dynamic, with Unwinder defending his geeky interest from Barbecue Sauce's embarrassment.
Foe Yay Shipping: In-universe; after watching a few episodes of Tokyo Delta Jetlag D, Unwinder starts shipping Jaded Lament and Colonel Gunarm.
Unwinder has a complicated relationship with Gary P. Rastov's novels. He has a lot of criticism for the books' shortcomings and professes to hate them... yet he's read the entire series three times, and even read the autobiography of Gary's son, Warren, in hope that it would shed some light on who Gary was.
Happens again with Felicity's Your Guess Is as Good as Mine. Unwinder hates the comic so much that he takes it upon himself to make Felicity improve by heckling her. He proceeds to read the entire archives and leave disparaging comments on nearly every page.
Unwinder: Reading some manga there? Barbecue Sauce: No. Unwinder: Reading some non-canon comic continuations of old, canceled, BBC science fiction shows? Barbecue Sauce: No! I mean, most fans consider them canon, since they got some of the original writers.
Felicity: Hmm. Your resume says you're a career criminal. If we run a background check, what's going to turn up? Unwinder: Nothing! Never been caught!
Periphery Hatedom: invoked At the county fair, suburbanites Unwinder and Amy mock the idea of awarding prizes for livestock. They can't see how the blue ribbon-winning hog is any different from the other hogs at the fair. (The alternate title for the comic is "Unwinder doesn't 'get' agriculture.") As soon as Unwinder and Amy are out of earshot, the farmers make fun of their ignorance.
Posthumous Character: Gary P. Rastov. He died before the comic began, but his legacy lives on in the War of the Seven Stars novels he wrote.
OOC Is Serious Business: On page 132, the perpetually-easygoing Lion-Man decides he's finally had enough of employment, and as he ponders how best to part with his employer, he frowns for the first time.
Alt Text: Drawing Lion-Man with any expression on his face other than stoned euphoria feels really wrong.
The Omnipresent: In the in-universe short story "The Gimel" (which appears on pages 83 and 84), Soncho Michez finds a Gimel at the bottom of a barrel. It causes him to exist everywhere in the universe at once for as long as he touches it. (The whole story is an Affectionate Parody of Jorge Luis Borges' "The Aleph".)
Shallow Parody: invoked Discussed in The Rant and played with. In one strip, Eli Parker admits that he doesn't know very much about Lady Gaga at all—so instead of making a joke about Lady Gaga, he made a joke about his characters not knowing very much about Lady Gaga. Then for the strip about K2: The Death of Kane, Parker notes how many "Citizen Kane sequel that completely misses the point" jokes only seem to parody the plot points that have spread via Popcultural Osmosis—so Parker made his own version of the joke that only makes sense if you've actually watched all of Citizen Kane.
Something Completely Different: Apocalyptus: Thrift and Peril, a story based on a Steam Punk tabletop RPG session, was initially placed in the middle of the comic's main archive. But when the website was revamped, Apocalyptus was moved to a separate archive.
Other guy: OK, is it like a dream of yours to get booed off of a stage? Unwinder: No, see, the real music is the jeers of the angry crowd! They are the true instruments, and you have been playing them from square one!