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Comic Strip / 9 Chickweed Lane

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Edda and Solange

The comic strip 9 Chickweed Lane was started by Brooke McEldowney in 1993. Originally it was a gag-a-day strip about three generations of women in the Burber family: biology professor Juliette Burber; her teenage daughter, Edda; and her mother, Edna O'Malley, whom everyone calls Gran. It gradually turned into a platform for the creator to express his views on culture, politics, religion and gender relations. Since 20-year-old Edda seems to have been promoted to being the central character, it also allowed McEldowney to indulge in his love of odd camera angles, polysyllabic words, and female legs. In 2021, it courted controversy by launching a story in which its principal gay character, Seth Appleby, casually set aside his boyfriend to begin a torrid affair with a homophobic female colleague, a storyline which ran during Pride month; at the end of that year, the strip was banned from the LA Times for using anti-Asian slurs in a (poorly researched) Second World War storyline.

This strip provides examples of:

  • Accidental Adultery: Edna is engaged to Bill before he goes missing, presumed dead, during the war. Many years later she ends up with Kiesl, just in time for Bill to show back up alive.
  • All Women Are Lustful: It is impossible to name a female character in the McEldowney universe (pregnant nuns included) that isn't obsessed with having sex in some way or another; either they're getting it and happy or not getting any and bitter about it.
  • Art Evolution: Edda was more menacing than pretty (you know that gleeful look on "peeing on [insert name here] Calvin"-sticker has? That was Edda's default expression).
  • Assurance Backfire: during the "pregnancy scare" storyline in 2012, close to a decade before the storyline in which he inexplicably turned straight, Seth tells Edda: "It's lucky for you that I'm gay, because I'd marry you like a shot and you'd always be pregnant and we'd have so many wonderful children". Even ignoring the ugly implications of his sexuality being an obstacle standing in the way of his goal, telling your friend and colleague that you're desperate to impregnate her several times over, in perpetuity, is not the compliment the author seems to think it is.
  • Author Appeal:
    • McEldowney loves the female form (especially the legs) and isn't shy about it.
    • His love of classic cinema (30s and 40s) era also tends to come through almost Author Tract like.
  • Author Tract:
    • Once Thorax, the dairy farmer from another galaxy, became prominent, the readers were treated to strip after strip detailing McEldowney's take on the world. Seth took over that role for a bit, post-Thorax/Gran breakup.
    • Edda's Pregnancy Scare arc seemed to have exposed Brooke's pro-life stance: Seth was telling her to get married and have kids, a straw-woman thinks abortions are the only solution to unplanned pregnancies, Edda's grandma Edna is there to remind her that Edda's mother was unplannednote . It's possible this was a response to Doonesbury's satirical week of strips about abortion.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Invoked by Juliette, who thought Edda's birth would improve things between her and her now-ex. Things did not improve.
  • Batman Gambit(?): Apparently Edda's tyrannical dance director had been wanting to get rid of her for a while, so he pushed her to the Nicolette Cygnet guys hoping she'd either ditch ballet for fashion or screw up so badly she wouldn't be welcomed back. Neither happened but she did give a scathing interview to a magazine, which the director hoped would be enough to fire her.
  • Beat Panel: Thorax is prone to taking up beat panels, and once used a double beat panel to great effect.
  • Beautiful All Along: Who would've thought that the semi-feral Edda and complete nerd Amos would've turned out to be a gorgeous ballet dancer and a talented cellist?
  • Big Guy, Little Guy:
    • Thorax (big) and his Pap (little).
    • Seth, Edda's dance partner/roommate (very muscular and tall) and his boyfriend (skinny and short).
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • Edda was basically hand-picked to model for a clothing line that gave her such a large advance salary that she bought Amos an antique cello, despite never modeling before or even considering it. Her response to this generosity is to compare the execs to demon-worshipers and models to air-headed sex toys; her mother sarcastically describes the clothes as "menswear" as no woman would ever wear such uncomfortable and revealing things on her own (except for the "leopard-spot undies, those are [hers]").
    • The pinups mocking fashion ads ("Outdoor collection" = gumbooted and pregnant hillbilly; Something about a Rose = a mouthful of thorns) was either this and Edda was given control over an entire advertising campaign or the execs were deliberately making Edda look bad after Seth, disguised as a lawyer, forced them to rehire her.
    • Edda later tells a magazine that being a ballet dancer is great if you enjoy long hours, stress, and eating disorders.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: the strip has this in abundance. Every female character seems to be cut from the same cloth, anatomically, except for their hair style and whether or not they wear glasses; male characters are either hideously wonky stick figures or Liefeld-esque piles of muscles (with the exception of Thorax, who is portrayed as entirely round). In many strips, the "rippling pink hulk" form is implied to be the ideally attractive form for heterosexual women.
  • Butter Face: McEldowney's art style turns practically every woman into this. He's very good at drawing sexy bodies, but his faces have a distinctly monkey-like appearance. And that's not getting into the horrifyingly toothy mouths and grotesque facial expressions he sometimes draws. The term "hellmaw" comes up fairly frequently in fan forum discussions about this comic's facial expressions.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    Seth's note: Stepped out to buy some Brussels sprouts, fresh morels, aged Gouda and Cabernet Sauvignon. Stopping by your Uncle Roger's to tell him he's gay. Back by seven.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
  • Brutal Honesty: Roger and Seth didn't meet on the right foot, what with Seth thinking Roger's mother's "affair" was highly romantic and Roger being in deep, deep denial about being gay, or at least really annoyed with Seth's insistence that he's in denial about being gay.
    Roger: Edda tells me you're a wonderful, nurturing person who stands by his convictions and speaks from the heart. [Beat] So is it all those special qualities that excuses you for being arrogant?
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Played straight when Edda can't tell Amos how his adoration of Hillary Hahn makes her jealous.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Averted in that Edda's skirt went past her knees, although that didn't stop her from taking flying leaps.
  • Cats Are Mean: Sort of. Solange isn't evil, but she seems to get a kick out of teasing Edda.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Thorax.
  • Compressed Vice: Edda's love of lowbrow pranks (like whoopie cushions). The first time it's mentioned, it's treated like it's as much a part of her character as her inability to keep a secret.
  • Contrapposto Pose: McEldowney explicitly references the pose more than once; this strip (from May 17th 2009) lampshades its use for sexy effect.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Edda possibly getting pregnant at the same time both her ballet director and the fashion execs want to fire her for trash-talking about the company and becoming more popular than the clothes(?!), respectively.
  • Cool Old Lady: Gran can be pretty impressive: she's definitely intimidating, and somehow manages to tolerate a relationship with Thorax.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The blood-quaffing, demon-worshiping fashion corp that hires Edda to be their spokes-booty.
  • Covert Pervert: Edda tends to take an unseemly interest in other people's love lives - up to and including her grandmother's.
  • Creepy Twins: Edda and Amos' toddler children, Polly and Lolly. Following their introduction the cartoonist seems to be at a loss as to what to do with them, defaulting to jokes about their freakishly advanced, Miracleman levels of innate intelligence, their deep interest in adult sexual situations, or both. Critics have been quick to point out that Edda and Amos rarely seem to spend time with the twins following their birth, creating the disturbing implication that they're raising themselves. Their age remains highly ambiguous, but it has already been pointed out in the strip that they are reading and talking well in advance of their age group. Also, the cartoonist alternates between drawing them with the standard eyes for his style or with blank, expressionless white circles ala Little Orphan Annie.
  • Crossover:
    • Thorax appears in Pibgorn on several occasions.
    • The cast of Pibgorn were guests at the wedding of Edda's former English teacher, Diane Aramus, and the former Father Francis Durley.
  • Disappeared Dad: Edda's. He's blonde, has a trophy wife, and is despised by Edda and Juliette. Kiesl left after being told that Bill is the better choice.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Very much so in this strip.
  • The Ditz: Roger (unless he's trolling Seth). "We need to talk." A minute later: "So, what did you want to talk about?"
  • The Dividual: Polly and Lolly are identical twins who might as well be the same person with how they rarely if ever are seen apart from each other.
  • Double Standard: Straight couples get weeks of steamy scenes; Seth and his boyfriend kissed once and then Seth got weeks of steamy scenes after hooking up with Fernanda.
  • Dutch Angle: One of the more confusing elements of the strip is McEldowney's insistence on drawing his characters at neck-straining camera angles to cram in more words and or legs.
  • Eagleland: Brooke McEldowney, very much flavor two. The Hard Truth Aesop of his World War II story lines was that the Evil Brit had to do whatever the Americans told him, no questions asked, since they were defending a country that didn't actually need defending at that point.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Edda and Isabel. Especially Isabel. Amos has even commented on how sexy her outfits are.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Some of the PDAs Young Edna and Lt. Kiesl got up to would get you tossed out of many places today. (Or at the very least get you a pointed "Get a Room!!") In 1950s New York City, you'd get the cops called on you. They did get the attention of a cop when Kiesl's ice cream cone melted and Edna cleaned his fingers with her tongue.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: McEldowney goes to great lengths to show his characters have robust love lives. Even Edna...
  • Evil Brit: In the World War II flashback, the English are generally portrayed in an unsympathetic light and a British military officer is the villain by default.
  • Evil Old Folks: Not so much evil but Edna is a rather bitter crone who takes delight in antagonizing her daughter and granddaughter, especially in the early days of the comic.
  • Expy: Isabel seems to be an expy of Pibgorn succubus Drusilla, only with short hair. The Straw Feminist might be another Pibgorn expy: Death herself, which makes her militant pro-abortion stance considerably creepier.
  • Fan Boy: When Seth becomes a fan of someone he becomes infatuated with them, whether they're an old woman with a pinched face or a young woman who insulted him once.
  • Fanservice: Oh-so-many Sunday strips.
  • Flanderization: Juliette goes from strict but fair teacher to a straight-up Sadist Teacher; Edda goes from Genki Girl with a violent streak to lust-crazed woman.
  • For the Evulz:
    • Isabel's reason for seducing Amos was simply because he's already taken with Edda.
    • The Corrupt Corporate Executives decide to mess around with the fine print in Edda's contract after she spent all her advance money on a cello for Amos 'cause it's funny. It doesn't quite work since Edda has no problem being a lingerie model.
  • Foregone Conclusion: We already know Gran chooses Bill in the end, it's stated right at the beginning of the arc!
  • Gentleman Snarker: Seth and Thorax, to some extant.
  • Get a Room!: One of Edda and Amos's makeour sessions was revealed to be taking place right in the middle of a crowded city street. As they were lying in the road kissing, this line got used.
  • Girl Next Door: What the Nicolette Cignet execs found in Edda ("She's sexy yet innocent and even patriotic!"). For some reason this is bad but they keep using her anyway and even hire Seth "for the ladies".
  • Glamorous War Time Singer: Edna.
  • Gratuitous German: And French, and musical notes.
  • Happily Married: Juliette and her professor husband; Amos and Edda as of 2017.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: In the past, Seth tried to deny his sexuality by being a serial dater. Now he inverts the trope by mentioning his homosexuality seemingly every chance he gets. And Roger fathered eleven children. Later, Seth seemed to invert this thanks to him being unable to resolve his attraction to Fernanda against his stated sexuality and it becoming a case of Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? considering he slept with Fernanda('s "art") and seemed to really be fighting the urge to sleep with Edda after she revealed that aside from Amos he was the only man she ever loved.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Edda: Maiden (!), Juliette: Mother, Gran: Crone.
  • Homage: "Sister Caligula" in an extended tribute to The Owl And The Pussycat with God/"God" and Thorax as a third wheel.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • The resolution to the flashback arc's Love Triangle seemed to be that Edna chose to honor her promise to Bill (whom she hasn't seen in a decade and just learned was still alive), despite the fact that loved - and was days away from marrying - Kiesl.
    • Seth proposing to Fernanda after learning that he was not only her first love but had taken her virginity as well. He's very relieved when Fernanda rejects the proposal.
  • I Want Grandkids: Well, "nieces or nephews" for Seth (Juliette, the actual potential grandma, has confidence in Edda's decision, whatever that may be): he's so obsessed with Edda being pregnant that he's got her wedding dress all ready, forbids her from even thinking about an abortion, and threatens to transform the guest bedroom into the most over-the-top nursery even if she does. In Seth's defense it'd be hard for him to adopt a kid and be a professional ballet dancer (there's no proof he and his boyfriend have actually reunited), plus it's possible gay adoption/marriage isn't legal in New York yet due to comic-book-time.
  • I Was Quite a Looker:
    • The WWII flashback showed Edna/Gran as a virtual clone of Edda.
    • A (belated?) Mother's day strip had Edda eloquently thanking her mother for passing down her good looks (and "Charlies", which shouldn't really matter to a ballerina); Gran chimes in that she had a hand in those genes too.
  • Identical Grandchild: Edda to Gran.
  • Idiot Ball: Edda wakes up feeling unusually nauseous and thinks she's pregnant. She goes from her home in New York City to her mom and stepdad in Connecticut, flies to her grandma and half/step/biological grandpa in Austria, flies back to NYC, tells her boyfriend Amos and her roommate Seth that she might be pregnant, and then has the courage to have a pregnancy test done only after Seth berates her for being an idiot and a coward for "not wanting to know the answer" in the first place.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: The most generous interpretation of the proudly gay Seth sleeping with Fernanda.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In the second World War 2 flashback regarding Bill's adventures in France after Omaha Beach, his new love Martine took out a sniper firing at her long distance, never missed anyone she was aiming at (and racked up an impressive bodycount of German soldiers at distances from closeup to a hundred or more meters), routinely was able to do things like intentionally scar someone's cheek or take a chunk out of their ear, and shot down an Me-109 fighter plane all with a 9mm Luger pistol.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Burkhardt in the last panel of this comicnote  when Edda accuses him of being in love with Isabel.
  • Informed Attribute : Fernanda Jons, a South American ballet dancer who is said to be more talented than Edda and was bigoted towards Straight Gay Seth a couple years ago. As far as we're shown, she's actually just a normal (well, as normal as a talented ballet dancer can be) girl who said something stupid once because she was trying to cover up a crush on him.
  • Informed Attribute: Lots...
    • Roger's closeted homosexuality really stands out. Basically it's true because Seth said so.
    • Add to that list Edda's (apparently) long-standing love for pulling the old whoopee cushion gag.
    • Edda sure has a noticeably nicer rear than her friend, beating out all the other ballerinas, she sure does.
    • If it's possible for clothes to have informed attributes: The wedding dress Seth made for Edda is heavy with (invisible to the naked eye) pearl beads yet transparent and delicate, chaste yet slutty. When we actually do see this outfit it's a perfectly normal/classy wedding dress, not some Guns N' Roses "November Rain"-looking thing.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Sister "Caligula", attempting to admonish Edda for her wild ways, asks what would happen if the army decided to have a dance party instead of fighting. Edda: "Peace?" Sister Caligula: Face Palm.
    • For some reason, the corrupt corporate execs think Edda would be adverse to being a lingerie model.
  • Intellectual Animal: Solange the cat, as well as an adopted/rescued greyhound and possibly another dog. They haven't turned up in a long time. The usual dynamic of Cats Are Mean, Dogs Are Dumb, and Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism are inverted: Solange the housecat is nice and rather dumb while the rescued greyhound (who was actually orange) was jaded and sarcastic.
  • Jerk With A Heartof Gold: Sister Steven talks to Sister Aramus after the latter has been getting a little closer than is safe to Father Durly. Sister Aramus, after praising Father Durly's respect for her vows, asks "do you have a tissue, sister?" and Sister Steven, a supportive arm around the younger nun's waist, confirms "As fate would have it, I've brought several".
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks:
    • Edda can't keep a secret to save her life, partially because they eventually become toxic inside her and partially because she loves seeing people's reactions when she tells.
    • Edda can't reveal to anyone that she's a fashion company's new spokes-ass, surprising Amos when he recognizes her in a giant poster. He shouldn't be that surprised, since she told him she's the company's "Golden Hind" before signing.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Why Bill was missing for ten years. While completely healthy physically, he played coy about his mental state.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Juliette's brother, Roger. Unseen and mentioned so rarely that many thought McEldowney made him up on the spot at the end of Edna's flashback arc. He appeared at Edda and Seth's place, at the eventual end of the WWII flashback arc, to rain on "Gamma's" lovechild happy ending parade and eventually come out of the closet.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Diane was pregnant from between 2009 to 2011.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Gran's reason for not immediately informing her future husband that she'd been compromised was that the German officer that told her to her face that they knew what she was was that he was a good-looking morally ambiguous figure.
  • Make-Out Kids: Edda & Amos.
  • Mama Bear: Edda is "the love of [Juliette's] life" and God have mercy on anyone who harms her. During Edda's brief pregnancy scare, she wants to either hustle Amos to a church to get married with a shotgun at his back or bury his corpse and salt the earth.
  • Manipulative Bastard : O'Malley's superior officer, Colonel Yancey. It was revealed that he decided a long time ago that O'Malley and Edna had to get married no matter what, because he "owed it" to Bill.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Roger, father of eleven "Stepford Children". Seriously, they come in batches of identical blonde twins and triplets and when Seth goes to Roger's place they appear en masse out of nowhere and just stare.
  • May–December Romance: When Amos and Gran got into an IM relationship. Amos posed as a military officer, and Gran as a hot Portuguese woman.
  • Meaningful Name: Juliette, Edda (after grandma Edna).
  • Messy Hair:
  • Metaphorically True:
    Gran: I didn't say that was how I met and fell in love with your dad. I said that was how I met and fell in love with your father.
  • Mood Whiplash: Edda and Juliette have a pleasant meeting with their newly-discovered bio-grand/father Kiesel, then they admonish him for wasting his life pining for their grand/mother Edna, then he travels to Pennsylvania to pay a surprise visit to Edna, then she's shocked and doesn't want to meet his gaze, then they kiss, then Thorax shows up and silently leaves, and finally Edna moves to Vienna with Kiesel where she's promptly mistaken for Kiesel's wife.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: A frequent knock on McEldowney's art: grinning characters appear to have triple the normal number of teeth. Also, women charcters frequently bare their teeth and/or snarl when they're in a sexy mood, so whenever the characters get frisky, the women always look like they're about to tear out the men's throats.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Happens in the Bill O'Malley/Martine Clocquer flashbacks story. Of course, this is in Occupied France during World War II, and they are caught by Those Wacky Nazis.
  • New Neighbors As The Plot Demands: Looked that way with the mention that Juliette has a sibling (Bill's biological child) who's never been mentioned before. Turns out her brother Roger has been established as such (but never seen) as far back as 2004. But as far as anyone can tell, he's been mentioned less than a dozen times, and not at all between 2005 and 2011.
  • The Nicknamer: Edda nicknamed her teacher/principal "Sister Caligula", her aunt "Penny-Auntie" and her roommate "App-Sethalby".
  • No Bisexuals:
    • Seth still insists that he's gay despite being very, very attracted to Fernanda. He claims he's actually in love with her skills as a dancer despite constantly complimenting her on her beauty oh, and he sleeps with her. Then in 2021 after two months of them both having lucid erotic dreams, the moment they meet again Seth proposes to Fernanda — even though he already has a boyfriend and she can no longer dance (thus canceling out the excuse he's only in love with her skills). They go through with marriage anyway. And he still insists that he is gay, with nary a whisper of the word bisexual.
    • Not to mention bisexuality never coming up as a possibility with regard to Roger or why Seth seems to be fighting the urge to sleep with Edda after she confesses her attraction to him.
  • Nubile Savage: Juliette often fantasizes about being Panther Woman, Queen of the Jungle.
  • Only Six Faces: Many of the character look alike: Juliet's husband is Pibgorns Geoff with grey hair; Young Gran is a dead-ringer for Edda; there's three identical brunettes (Drucilla the succubus, Isabel the pianist, and Fernanda the ballerina) and at one point Edda is talking to Isabel (Portuguese/older/worldly/short curly hair) and Edda like Fernanda's (South American/younger/"innocent"-ish/long wavy hair) saucy protege. Farm hand Sven is basically less-smarmy Seth. The first daily color strip is presumably Amos complementing Edda, but they're shown from the waist down so for all we know it could be Edda's mother and stepfather.
  • Off Stage Villainy: The Nicolette Cignet clothing corp is described by Edda as a cabal of blood-drinking demon-worshipers but we never see them actually demon-worshiping and Edda has a long-established hatred of authority (they are at least revealed to be pretty huge jerkasses and aware of it: "Gentlemen (if that's what we actually are)...").
  • One Head Taller:
    • Seth is a head taller and a body-size wider than all the characters except Thorax. This did not stop Fernanda from occasionally being the same height as they dance (or "dance").
    • Apparently Brooke in real life, seen here. For reference, the woman on the right is around 5'11".
  • Pair the Spares: The two slightly older people who tried to seduce Amos and Edda.
  • Pet the Dog: Seth's revenge for Fernanda's comment about American dancers being unmanly is to be as nice to her as possible. What Edda would have liked to do to her was a bit less psychological.
  • Pin Up: The Nicolette Cignet Pin Up collection, with special appearance by Edda's, um, kitty.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Edda and Amos' relationship hit a snag when he couldn't stop babbling about real-life concert musician Hillary Hahn; since she wouldn't tell him what was bothering him, he had no idea why she was angry.
    • The intelligence operation that Gran was involved in would have gone much smoother had the OSS lieutenant in charge told the British colonel whose POW camp she was assigned to who she was and why she was there. As it stands, her future husband got busted down to buck private for beating the snot out of the poor sap he failed to inform.
  • Retcon: A Sunday strip from the early 2000s has an old picture of WW2 Gran with jet-black hair; of course, this could've been before her mission and she took to bleaching it.
  • Running Gag: Roger's horrible taste in everything: he prefers aerosol cheese and jug wine to aged Gouda and Cabernet, although having to take care of 11 children might have something to do with it.
  • Sadist Teacher:
    • Juliette. Not only does she compare her students to cattle, she flies off into a blind rage the second one of them refers to her as anything other than Doctor Burber.
    • "Sister Caligula", scary head-nun of Edda's school.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Gran, Gran, Gran.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The soon-to-be-formerly pregnant ex-nun's ex-priest husband is in a meeting with The Pope and basically says "Screw The Pope, I'm going to be a dad!"
  • Selective Obliviousness: When Seth tells Roger about being gay, Roger gives a list of various meanings of "gay" ("You think I'm happy? Or should I list a bunch of bright colors?") except the obvious one. Seth can't tell if Roger is serious or trolling and it bugs the hell out of him.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Almost every character in the strip. Crosses over into Delusions of Eloquence when Brooke, and by extension all his characters, start using the ten-dollar words incorrectly.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: the "Handjive" strips.
  • Sexy Priest: One shows up and falls in love with a nun at Edda's school. She rejects him, but after they quit their respective orders they begin a relationship.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: As we know, the extended flashback was Gran's way of telling Juliette the story of how she met and fell in love with her biological father; when it concluded, Juliette was astonished by the realization that Gran wasn't talking about the war hero who raised her but the Nazi opera singer who Gran had slept with before marrying him.
  • Shout-Out: Several weeks of The Devil's Dictionary-style definitions circa 2007:
    Truth: Noun. That which most easily appeals to the fears, hopes, and prejudices of the hearer; in essence, a lie.

    Lie: Noun. That which causes its utterer to be reviled; in essence, the truth.

    Deceit: Noun. Example: A dog rolls on the carcass of a dead possum in order to deceive other animals regarding his identity as a dog (whereas) a man lolls in the scents of church in order to deceive himself regarding his identity as a thief, an adulterer, and a liar (the difference is that the dog does not first have to endure being bored by the possum).

    Democracy: Noun. Informal. A form of government in which people, faced with the prospect of self-rule, cast the job into an exclusive mire of unskilled panderers. In earlier times, entire wars were waged for the stated purpose of protecting democracy. Now wars are waged to protect freedom, democracy having been abolished toward that end.

    Allegiance: Noun. An undefined word school children are taught to pledge daily toward a flag that is otherwise ignored. The purpose of this pledge is to teach the young that "allegiance" has a limited shelf life of 24 hours.

    Friendship: Noun. That which unites person 1 with person 2 though their mutual hatred of person 3.note 

    "Nothing is Perfect": A phrase demoting that the speaker is familiar enough with perfection to state, categorically, that it does not exist. Compare this with the preacher who is unfamiliar enough with hell to state that it does.

    Tolerance: Noun. The implicit affirmation that there is something about nearly everybody else that must be tolerated.

    Murder and Incivility: Opposites on the spectrum of affronts to society, incivility being the most heinous. On earth, the crime of murder is universally celebrated, a fascinating wellspring of entertainment profits that corresponds in direct proportion to the ferocity of the murder. To date, there are very few, if any, TV programs, novels, stories, plays, or films about incivility.

    Hate: Noun. At an international level, the conventional response to any act of generosity, after first accepting the generosity.

    Faith: Noun. The unknowable promoted to the irrefutable. The child's comfortthe fanatic’s trigger.

    Natural-Born Leader: Noun. An untalented, benignly useless person, but for the potent services of the natural-born led.

    Holy: Cosmetic Adjective. On earth, any hostile activity, such as a war or pogrom, with celebrity endorsement from God.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Juliette was a divorced mother of one while her brother Roger seems to be a Happily Married father of eleven. Juliette is also proud to be a literal love-child while Roger has issues with his mother's past; Juliette is a uninhibitedly passionate woman while Roger is a stereotypically conservative Catholicnote ; Juliette is happily remarried while Roger just got divorced.
  • Single Issue Psychosis: If we're to take the entire Kiesl arc at face value, Gran's crabby bitterness and general anger at the world can be traced directly to giving up her true love in order to keep a promise to another. Once said love returns to her five decades later, that bitterness near-instantly vanishes.
  • Slice of Life: The comic's mode before Amos and Edda went to Julliard (a year early, 'cause they're so talented).
  • Small Parent, Huge Child: Thorax is a bit taller than average and very corpulent, while his Pap is an ancient, shriveled old man who's no more than four feet tall.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: The Nicolette Cignet execs want to fire Edda because she's too wholesome-looking and is getting more attention than their clothes. Apparently the last thing a fashion corp wants is for people to look at their ads.
  • Spicy Latina: Fernanda (South America; actually quite mild) and Isabel (Portugal, The Vamp). Gran once posed as a hot Portuguese woman online.
  • Spinoff: Pibgorn
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Edna and Kiesl.
  • Straight Gay: Seth, Edda's dance partner/roommate. His art-dealer(?) boyfriend is slightly more emotional and dramatic.
    • Roger
  • Straw Feminist: A random woman who's either a colleague of Juliette's (and thus a doctor) or a mere jewelry retailer, who thinks that all unplanned pregnancies must be aborted, not knowing that Juliette was unplanned and the old woman she's talking to is Juliette's mother. Brooke later clarified:
    Q: Dear Mr. McEldowney, your cartoon yesterday was an offense and an insult to all people who uphold a woman's right to... .

    A: To sum up: The writer is indignant, righteous, and not a careful reader. E-mail in this predictable vein has been arriving sporadically from citizens infuriated by what they prefer to feel is a slap in the face administered to pro-choice acolytes everywhere. The general view is that I personally am slug vomit. I, in fact and for many reasons, may be slug vomit. However, not in this instance. The cartoon I drew [op. cit.] does not portray a pro-choice individual. It trots across the stage a harsh, dogmatic butt-head, one of a kidney not infrequently encountered, a person who clothes her unpalatable thought in a sheepskin of implicit moral virtue: the word "choice." It is obvious she is not pro-choice, because she preaches no-choice.

    Q: Well, I don't know anybody who would say such a thing!

    A: I can't help what you don't know.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Juliette, Gran, Edda, Seth, Sister "Caligula", and Roger.
  • Tap on the Head: Averted; the doctor handling Bill O'Malley's case told Yancey flat out that his former subordinate was a shell of the man he used to be.
  • Too Much Information: Remember, the WWII flashback is being told by an elderly mother to her daughter, plus her granddaughter and an entire ballet company eavesdropping on the phone. And later by elderly biological father to just-discovered daughter and granddaughter. Lampshaded, far too late, here:
    Juliette: Gloriosky, mother.
    Gran: Well you asked what I did.note 
    Juliette: Not in such detail.
    Gran: Well, I'm telling you anyway.
  • Transparent Closet: Everyone just knows Roger is gay except Edda and the guy himself. How they can tell: he's snarky, has a huge vocabulary and has been hiding his sexuality by having lots of sex with his wife Penny and maybe pretending to have poor taste in food (or maybe he has no time and money for good food after taking care of his eleven children).
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: Juliette and Edda fly to Austria to drop in on Gran and Kiesel to tell them they might be great-grandparents and because Edda needs to talk to Gran and just as suddenly fly back to New York.
  • Trickster God: God/"God", an incredibly smug, wormy-looking little man in a suit who previously decided to replace humans with cockroaches because he couldn't stand that such petty things resembled him, starting with a pregnant ex-nun's fetus she gave birth to a perfectly normal baby human girl. Later He talked about quitting his job and letting "the suits" take over and claiming that he prefers the "small talk" of said ex-nun's prayers to "Sister Caligula's" strict performance reviews.
  • Twist Ending: Bill, you're not the father! But is it really a twist if everyone saw it coming? The only surprising thing about the ending was its abruptness after months of Edna and Kiesl's romance.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Actually a Two Person Lake Party during World War II in Occupied France. Rudely interrupted by Those Wacky Nazis.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: A flash-forward showed Edda and Amos as a Happily Married couple reminiscing about their childhood.
    • While Juliette's second husband isn't ugly, he looks far too tame to handle his very passionate wife.
  • Wall of Text: To the point where it almost looks like the word balloons want to stab the characters.
  • White Void Room: With the occasional gradient; where much of the action takes place. Brooke was kind enough to put in some effort when Juliette and Edda visit Kiesel's grave in Vienna. Has become a very dark grayscale world in newsprint since Brooke started using color, starting with a strip that takes place at night and shows two characters from the waist down. Lately, pretty much all you can see is the characters' faces and limbs (although that may just be the LA Times).
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The WII flashback starring a MUCH younger Gran.
  • Younger Than They Look: Edda and Amos are twenty years old at most, but their mature style of speaking can cause some confusion. Seth is probably not much older, but at least one viewer thought he and Edda's uncle Roger were both in their twenties despite Roger having a receding hairline.
    • Polly and Lolly are supposed to be toddlers (they were born in 2020) but they look like they're ready for kindergarten or grade school. Or, based on the inconsistency of their appearance and vocabulary, High School.