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Comic Strip / On the Fastrack

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On the Fastrack is a comic strip by Bill Holbrook (who also made Safe Havens and Kevin & Kell), launched by King Features Syndicate in 1984. Its tech-centered humor is set in the offices of Fastrack, Inc., a company that stores all the world's data. For most of its run, it has starred Wendy Welding, the executive assistant of the CEO and the person who actually keeps things running. Nowadays, more time is given to Dethany Dendrobia, the corporate goth.


This comic contains examples of:

  • Crossover: Frequently with Safe Havens (see Shared Universe below). One noteworthy crossover in the early 2000s involved Rose Trellis and Jeanine Argus running for political office simultaneously, with scenes taking place in sequence in both comics.
  • George Jetson Job Security: While we don't normally see it, Dethany claims to have seen Ms. Trellis fire Wendy "5,000 times." Wendy says Ms. Trellis doesn't mean it unless she goes through HR.
  • Good is Not Nice: Percy and Thrip don't like to admit it, but they attack technology in order to inspire humans to make it better. They have occasionally attempted drastic measures like dropping a heavy computer on an engineer. Another example could be Fistula Breech.
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  • The Hecate Sisters: Fastrack is run by the trio of CEO Rose Trellis (crone), her executive assistant Wendy Welding (the working mom) and Dethany Dendrobia (the maiden).
  • Out of Focus: Bob Shirt, former protagonist. An intentional example: According to the creator, the character "turned out to be so boring that the strip survived only by moving the spotlight away from him."
    • His girlfriend Melody has been even more out of focus.
    • The Moat Monster as well, but for a different reason: The cartoonist wants to move away from some of the more bizarre elements that may distract readers who came for other things. As Dethany's Mailbox explains, with more of the fantasy elements moved into cyberspace (e.g., Dethany's unicorn avatar), the "real-life" fantasy elements have been de-emphasized. The Moat Monster still exists, but in the form of a human with green hair.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Fistula is determined to remain acid at all times.
  • Pet the Dog: Fistula despises the air Dethany breathes, but when she finds that Dethany's going to use tax preparation software, she voluntarily goes through and does Dethany's taxes, saving her a lot of money, and has to be persuaded to accept pay for the work she did.
  • Put on a Bus: Happens every so often, as we might expect from a comic that has run since 1984 without the rule of Status Quo Is God. One interesting example: Meg the Cyber Dog, who was getting old for software if not for a dog, got saved to a disk and hasn't been seen since.
  • Right Behind Me: A mild example.
  • Shared Universe: With Safe Havens. Havens' main character, Samantha, has a standing job offer from Rose (for whom Samantha's father works). Patina now attends the college that Samantha works at, staying in the dorm she's RA for. And now Rusty has joined the dorm.
  • Sour Supporter: For all her unfriendliness, Fi does help Dethany in some big ways, including lending a temporary home.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: iPatina's cyber-superhero cape looks like a cursor.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Rose isn't as bad as she used to be — barely. This may be an example of Pragmatic Villainy.
    • Art started the comic as a Jerkass, but, for decades, his defining attributes have been laziness and technical ineptitude.
  • The Unsmile: Fi breaks from her usual dour demeanor here. By Contrived Coincidence, she and Dethany hear the sound of glass breaking at the same moment.
  • Unsound Effect: Autocorrect's dictionary doesn't include sound effects like "pow," so her fight with a computer worm was accompanied by verbs like "pummel".
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People:
    • Dethany has a raven called Lenore.
    • Fi has come to accept a cowbird.
  • Unwanted Assistance:
    • Fi generally doesn't welcome Dethany's gestures of friendship. Not openly, anyway.
    • Truth in Television: Autocorrect rarely gets any appreciation.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: OK, Fistula used to be a sweet young adult, until she felt betrayed.
  • Visual Pun: Many. For example, Autocorrect has become a literal spelling bee.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: When Percy and Thrip (at least back in her computer bug days) wreak havoc on technology, it's secretly an attempt to get humans to improve it.
  • Wretched Hive: The Malware Cafe is explicitly called a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" (quoting A New Hope).