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Comic Strip / Fleep

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Okay, think Jimmy. There must be a rational explanation for all this. […] Your brain is your most powerful resource right now. You must use it to figure out what just happened and then put together an escape plan.
Jimmy's thoughts

Fleep is the story of Jimmy Yee, who enters a phone booth and blacks out. He wakes up to discover that the booth is encased in concrete.

Using nothing but the contents of his pockets, a Pay Phone, and his skills in mathematics, Jimmy must deduce how he got there, and how to escape, before he runs out of air.

This comic strip by Jason Shiga was originally published in the newspaper Asian Week, but was cancelled two-thirds into its run. Shiga has since published the complete story on his website: it can be read here.

This comic strip provides examples of:

  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Jimmy is horrified when he realizes that he must've been the one to set off the bomb that must have injured or killed so many innocent people in the embassies.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: Despite not remembering anything of the time in between entering the phone booth to call Jenny and waking up trapped, Jimmy knows a surprising amount about the logistics of bombing an embassy. It makes sense, as he'd become a terrorist in the intervening years.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: The Russian language is not only broken, but also contains some letters that that don't belong to the modern Russian alphabet.
  • Author Appeal: From Shiga's description of the comic on his website: "About a quarter of the strips feature the main character working through various math problems. They are some of the most dramatic math problems you'll ever see in a comic strip."
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: How Jimmy's situation is shown at first, with his eyes the only thing visible in the pitch blackness.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The first call Jimmy makes using the coins isn't as dead as it looks.
  • Dead All Along: Jenny has been dead for several years, which Jimmy has lost all memory of.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Jimmy openly admits that his self-sacrifice is a cold, calculated decision: He wants to be with his dead wife, and he hopes to be redeemed enough by sacrificing himself for to save someone else's life.
  • Dutch Angle: The panel perspective becomes slanted to indicate a devastating personal revelation.
  • Fictionary: The character is in a fictional country with a fictional language. Fleep is one of the words in that language.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first strip, Jimmy is wearing a dark long-sleeved shirt. When he wakes up in the phone booth, he's wearing a white t-shirt. Though he never brings it up himself, it's an early clue that more time has passed between the two events than Jimmy realized.
  • Gainax Ending: The ending is so unexpected that even Jimmy wonders whether he's been hallucinating the whole thing.
  • The Ghost: Jenny, Jimmy's wife who never appears on-screen. Turns out that after the first strip, she's dead.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jimmy directs Search and Rescue to the woman trapped in the phone booth near him and tells her how to get to the pocket of air, even though it means he himself will suffocate without it.
  • Internal Monologue: Much of the comic is Jimmy's as for the majority of it he has no one to talk to, and can't speak the language the few times he does.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: With a large helping of Amnesiac Dissonance.
  • MacGyvering: It's awe-inspiring what Jimmy accomplishes using the contents of a phone booth. He is a terrorist after all.
  • Manifesto-Making Malcontent: The note in Russian left with Jimmy is eventually deduced to be a manifesto to be read by the Russians after Jimmy is dead. Jimmy is the one who wrote it, and it's an explanation of why he became a terrorist after the death of his wife.
  • Minimalism: Only one character and one very small room are shown.
  • Minimalist Cast: Apart from unseen people occasionally communicated with on the phone, Jimmy is the only character.
  • Ontological Mystery: How the phone box came to be encased in concrete, why he was knocked out and trapped inside, and why he is suddenly unable to communicate with anyone through the phone are all mysteries to Jimmy.
  • Puzzle Thriller: Jimmy employs various MacGyver techniques to stay alive while he slowly reconstructs what happened.
  • Quest for Identity: Jimmy discovers a lot about his past while in the phone booth.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Jimmy sacrifices himself in order to save an innocent victim of his terrorist attack.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Jimmy became a terrorist after his wife was killed in a bombing raid.
  • Shown Their Work: Math problems, mostly used to stave off death.
  • The Stoic: For being trapped in a phone booth, Jimmy seems quite adept at taking it all in stride. This contrasts with the decisions that got him into this mess.
  • Title Drop: The phone booth Jimmy wakes up in has a sign saying "Fleep".
  • Tomato in the Mirror: After carefully working through what he's deduced and realizing that he's in a collapsed embassy, mostly likely the result of a terrorist attack and a bomb, Jimmy realizes that it wasn't bad luck or coincidental timing: it was his phone call that triggered the bomb in the American embassy. He was the terrorist.
  • The Voice: Several, as Jimmy can only contact people through the phone. These people include the woman in another telephone booth, the negotiator, and Alan his comrade from the Simbanese Liberation Front.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Because my call triggered the bomb!"
    • "But sir, you stated in your manifesto that your wife died two years ago."
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Jimmy trying to figure how the heck he managed to get stuck in a cement-covered phone booth.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: Jimmy wakes up in a phone booth. A phone box encased in concrete.