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Webcomic / Avalon

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Avalon is a webcomic hosted on Keenspot, written and drawn by Josh Phillips. It was launched in November 1999 and officially ended in February 2007.

Sixteen-year-old Ceilidh ("Kay-Lee") MacFarlene moves with her family to the fictional town of Avalon, Ontario, Canada from Ottawa. There, she starts Grade 11 at Avalon High School and becomes friends with six of the students there.

She first meets Joseph Page and his best friend Alan Gunderson, then Ryan Aberdeen "The Geek To End All Geeks," the bubbly Helène Richer who constantly chases Alan, Alison Montgomery, and Phoebe Bradley - who prefers to be called "Feeb" - with a constant dislike of men.

This Slice of Life webcomic features their time together in and out of Avalon High School.

Not to be confused with Meg Cabot's young-adult novel and manga series Avalon High or the Mamoru Oshii film of the same name.

Avalon provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Affectionate Parody: This Barq's commercial was parodied in 1:100.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: It's Walky! did a Crossover with Avalon in one of its storylines.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Ceilidh towards Iain, but he's not that "bad". Subverted with Deirdre's old relationship with her high school boyfriend Patrick, who put on a tough front but was really a coward.
  • Alone with the Psycho: When Joe gets ambushed by Nancy with her wooden katana in the halls after school hours. Ceilidh comes to his rescue.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Ciaran, Ceilidh's older brother. Ceilidh cannot abide his teasing.
  • Ambiguous Gender: During Erin's first week in the comic, readers initially were confused as to whether she was male or female. This was later put to rest in 3:87 - she's female. The ambiguity was an unintended result of her Boyish Short Hair.
  • Art Evolution: There is a definite change in art style as the comic goes on. One note of interest is that many characters get larger hair, which actually works for them. Check it out on the Cast page.
  • Beach Episode: Not a beach specifically, but the main cast goes camping at the lake.
  • Better as Friends: At the beginning of their OAC year, Joe and Phoebe finally talk about what happened with Todd. Phoebe tells Joe that they would not have been right for each other as a couple; Joe agrees that they were better as friends. As a result, their friendship starts to mend.
  • Bookworm: After Iain moves back to Australia, Alison took to reading advanced psychology textbooks, even during work.
  • Brave Scot: Ceilidh, when she stopped Nancy's attacks on Joe in school after hours.
  • Brick Joke: Phoebe tells Alan she thinks Ceilidh's a lesbian after an awkward exchange prompted by rumors about her sexuality; months later, Alan apologizes for giving Ceilidh a romantic token "before I found out...that you're a lesbian" and promptly gets drenched in punch.
  • Broken Bird: Phoebe after her experiences with Todd and her broken friendship with Joe.
    • Deirdre could also technically count for this, especially after her reveal.
  • Bromantic Foil: Alan to Joe, especially when he took advantage of Joe's indecision over Helène; Alan started going out with her to become more popular.
  • Canada, Eh?: Averted since the author was born and raised in Canada.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Joe's indecisiveness kept him from confessing to Helène and Phoebe, not to mention inadvertently starting a relationship with Ceilidh.
  • Caught in the Rain: After Ceilidh's Love Confession to Joe they both get rained on near Ceilidh's house. They go inside to dry off in her room, where Ceilidh decides to "bare her breasts soul" to him.
  • Character Development: Especially with the Drama Bombs used.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The bearded man trying to smoke at Hildegarde's Café is later revealed to be Joe's estranged father James Page. See The Reveal below.
  • Chick Magnet: Iain. One instance of this infuriates Alison since she sees him as her Jungian shadow. She observes how easily he can fit in with others in general while she has to try much harder.
  • Cliffhanger: More often than not this happens in the Friday comic before the weekend break, leaving the reader in suspense until Monday.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Helène for Alan, albeit she's more clingy than jealous.
  • Cool Big Sis: Deirdre.
  • Cool Old Guy: Expect hilarity when you see Pol MacFarlane.
  • Cool Old Lady: Moire MacFarlane has her moments. Hildegarde Page also counts.
  • Coming of Age Story
  • Comically Missing the Point: Comic 2:84 has this.
  • Curse Cut Short: Comic 1:141 does this.
  • Cutting the Knot: After Alan spent the whole series dragging his feet trying to get Helene to break up with him, Joe finally tells Helene directly that Alan's been wanting to end their relationship for years now. It turns out that Helene knew Alan had fallen out of love with her but still hoped to make it work; knowing that he'd been trying to break things off with her convinces her to finally stop trying.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joe and Alison. She's practically the Trope Namer.
  • Dean Bitterman: Vice-Principal Harry Murdoch.
  • Delinquents: In high school, Deirdre was rebellious and had a reputation for being a bully, but she's greatly mellowed out in the present day.
  • Disappeared Dad: During Grade 9, Joe's father walked out on him and Hildegarde for a younger woman. Who he then walked out on for Melissa, his former sister-in-law and first love.
  • Does Not Like Men: Phoebe, which brings her sexuality into question for Ceilidh.
  • Drama Bomb: This comic is practically synonymous with this trope.
  • Dramatic Drop: Ceilidh drops the necklace when Alan calls her a lesbian, while Joe drops a doughnut in Tim Horton's after Ceilidh's Love Confession.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Everyone in the main cast has issues ranging from alcoholism, dark past secrets, emotional insecurities, and relationship problems.
  • Fiery Redhead: All of the female members of the Bradley family.
  • Filler Strips: A notable one is the little arc when it rains on Helene.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Phoebe was so distraught after her relationship with Todd that she now despises all men.
  • Flashback: One example of this is Ryan discussing Joe and Phoebe's history with Ceilidh.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Everyone is drawn with four fingers on their hands instead of five. This is lampshaded by Alan when he holds both hands up to indicate he bought five raffle tickets.
  • From Bad to Worse: Some time after Patrick found out about Deirdre's pregnancy and cowardly ran away, she had a miscarriage.
  • Geek: Ryan the "computer whiz," as said by Ceilidh. He's not ashamed of it either.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Noelle and Pascale.
  • Girl Next Door: Ceilidh is literally this to Joe after she moves to Avalon.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: This trope works out a little differently here: Ryan has a crush on Phoebe, but she doesn't reciprocate. He then meets her older sister Deirdre by chance. After they have a talk about Phoebe, he attempts to talk to Phoebe again at Alison's New Year's Eve party. However, this once again fails and he eventually gives up. It isn't until some time later, also completely by chance, that an intimate relationship blossoms between him and Deirdre.
  • The Glomp: Helène has done this to Alan at least once.
  • Guest Strip: A lot of these came out on Sundays when the strip was running, with the occasional weeklong one.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: At the end of the first year, Hildegarde opens up a coffee shop, and Alison begins to study psychiatry, which become their defining character traits. At the start of Year 2, the Backstory Ryan gives Ceilidh turns several of the early assumptions of the main cast on their heads, and piecing together the gaps becomes a major theme. Also, the rest of the Bradleys and, to a lesser extent, Hildegarde, graduate to the main cast.
  • Halloween Episode: In Grades 12 and OAC, the main cast meet up at Hildegarde's Café in their costumes to go to a Halloween party. In OAC year, Phoebe wears the highland dancer costume that Ceilidh wore the previous Halloween.
  • The Ghost: Deirdre's ex-boyfriend, Patrick, who never even appeared in the flashbacks.
  • High School: Takes place in one from sophomore year up to graduation.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: At the end of the comic, this is the case for Joe and Helène and Ceilidh and Phoebe.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Joe feels this way towards Ceilidh.
  • Informed Judaism: Alison tells Ceilidh at her first New Year's party with the main cast that she is Jewish. It is the only time this is explicitly acknowledged.
    Ceilidh: But why are you eating the pork sausages?
    Alison: Oh, trust me Ceilidh, whatever the heck these are made of, it ain't pork.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Feeb/Feebs" for Phoebe.
  • Jerkass:
    • Todd, Phoebe's OAC ex-boyfriend who abused and cruelly dumped Phoebe and then started spreading rumors about her in school that she was a lesbian. Joe retaliated against Todd by pushing him down the stairs.
    • Deirdre's ex from her high school days, Patrick. She hooked up with him because she thought he was tough and a rebel like herself. However, after he got her pregnant and found out about it, he turned out to be a coward and ran away, leaving Deirdre to deal with the pregnancy on her own. Unfortunately, it didn't end there: she had a miscarriage.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Joe pushed Todd down a flight of stairs to "vent his frustrations" regarding his loss of Phoebe.
  • Lady in Red: Ceilidh wore a sleeveless red dress on her movie date with Joe.
  • Land Down Under: Iain is Australian.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Joe and Helène and Ceilidh and Phoebe at the comic's end.
  • Let's Just Be Friends: When Joe breaks up with Ceilidh, telling her he thinks they would be Better as Friends, like they were before. He apologizes for lying to her about his true feelings; he only wanted her to be happy, which is why he went out with her in the first place.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Ceilidh, Phoebe, Alison.
  • Locker Mail: Ceilidh receives two love letters in her locker.
    • The first, at the beginning of the comic, was left in the wrong locker. Ryan had intended it for Phoebe.
    • In Grade 12, she gets one from an actual secret admirer who asks to meet.
  • Longing Look: In the school cafeteria Joe stares at Helène from across the room. His look is somewhat intense due to his contemplating how he turned out not asking her to the spring dance.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Helène is the most popular girl in school, but really has no mean bone in her body.
  • Love at First Sight: Alan becomes infatuated with Ceilidh upon their first meeting.
  • Love Confession: Ceilidh invites Joe to meet her at Tim Hortons, where she asks him to "go steady" with her. Also Phoebe towards Ceilidh during grad night, who beforehand gives Ceilidh her First Kiss.
  • Love Dodecahedron: There is a whole web of possible attractions between each cast member.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: At the beginning of the comic, Ryan leaves a love letter in Ceilidh's locker. It is uncertain whether Ceilidh was relieved or insulted when Ryan informs her he put the letter in her locker by mistake, as it was intended for Phoebe. In Grade 12, Ceilidh finds another letter in her locker from her secret admirer, asking for them to meet and for her to wear the necklace.
  • Meaningful Name: There are a few:
    • Ceilidh is a Gaelic name which means "an informal social gathering with folk music, singing, dancing, and storytelling."
    • Deirdre is Irish, Gaelic, and possibly Celtic for "broken-hearted, sorrowful" and could also be translated as "fear" or "raging woman." Deirdre is also the name of one of the most famous women in Irish folklore, as a woman of great beauty with a tragic story; The Other Wiki describes it in detail.
    • Ciaran is Gaelic for "little dark-haired one."
  • Meaningful Rename: Phoebe and Ryan nickname themselves. Phoebe introduces herself to Ceilidh as "Feeb."
    Phoebe: I hate "Fee-Bee!" Please call me "Feeb!"note 
    Ceilidh: Okay, but I'm sure I've heard that as an insult before.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Alan to Ceilidh, which results in her throwing a bowl of punch on him. However, this changes at the comic's end, when she enters a relationship with Phoebe.
  • Moment Killer: After seeing the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ceilidh mentions that they're both alone in the parking lot. As they are both about to share a kiss, Ceilidh slips on a patch of ice and hits her tailbone.
  • Mouthful of Pi: The gang go to a Senators playoff game and bring something with them ...
    Sports Announcer: And a group of fans seem to have brought a banner which reads the value of "pi," accurate to 40 decimals...
  • Necktie Leash: Ceilidh does this to Joe while inviting him to her house. Nancy also does this to Alan but in a more threatening manner.
  • New Transfer Student: Iain, who transferred from Australia as a foreign exchange student during Grade 12. Ceilidh was one as well at the beginning of the webcomic.
  • New Year Has Come: In Grades 11 and 12, the gang has a New Year's Eve party at Alison's, and drama doesn't take a break for holidays.
  • Oblivious Younger Sibling: Noelle is the youngest Bradley sibling and generally has little clue about the things her parents and older sisters are going through.
  • Official Couple: Ryan and Deirdre are the only couple in the series who actually have a genuinely stable relationship.
  • One-Word Title: Also The Place, being named for the high school the characters go to.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Alan and Ryan insulting each other. Initially as a Running Gag in 1:96, it gets pulled off very well as a funny Overly-Long Gag since this is used as a recurring Funny Background Event for the rest of the week.
  • The Place: Also a One-Word Title, being named for the high school the characters go to.
  • Please Dump Me: Alan towards Helène. He is desperate to break things off with her due to how clingy she is but is afraid of hurting her feelings by being direct about it. Eventually, Joe tells it to her straight out, driving her to realize their relationship is unsalvageable.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Ryan is a computer whiz and a top student at AHS. He even calls himself "the geek to end all geeks". Celidh thinks it's an insult when she first hears Joe call him that, but Joe himself says, "We had more colourful nicknames for him."
  • The Reveal:
    • A double whammy at the beginning of the second year. Ryan reveals that Joe, Alan and Phoebe used to be much closer back then before Alan began dating Helene and Phoebe began seeing a guy named Todd, who turned out to be an abusive Jerkass. After Todd cruelly broke up with Phoebe and spread rumors about her, he soon showed up at school wearing a neckbrace and casts. And how did that happen? Joe confesses to Ceilidh that he pushed Todd down the stairs.
    • Remember the bearded guy trying to light up at Hildegarde's and driving Alison insane? He's Joe's father Jimmy Page! Officially his name on the cast page is James Page. This took Alison - and the readers - by total surprise. In retrospect, there is a Strong Family Resemblance between them. The beard throws you off.
    • Phoebe reveals Deirdre's secret past to Ryan, namely Deirdre's pregnancy from her Jerkass ex-boyfriend Patrick back from her high school days.
    • In the text ending, Ceilidh tells Joe that she was the one who talked Helène into tutoring Joe for final exams, admitting that "Helène would probably be better for [him] than [she] ever was."
  • Running Gag: On the first day of school for Grades 11 and 12, someone points out to Ceilidh that a dryer sheet is stuck to the back of her vest. For OAC year, Ceilidh just outright brings it herself. She gives it to Phoebe as a symbolic gesture for a fresh start. Also see Overly-Long Gag above.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mr. Corner, the chemistry teacher.
  • Second Love: Deirdre for Ryan, and vice versa.
  • Secret Relationship: Ryan and Deirdre keep their relationship on the down-low for a good portion of the comic. When they go public with it to their friends, everyone's surprised but are ultimately happy for them.
  • Settle for Sibling:
    • Ryan initially had a crush on Phoebe, who didn't reciprocate; eventually, he ends up in a relationship with her older sister Deirdre after (ironically enough) he had initially come to her for advice about Phoebe.
    • A Deconstructed Trope with Joe's parents, Jim and Hildegarde. Jim was initially in love with Hildegarde's sister Melissa but she was more focused on her academics and had no desire for a relationship. He and Hildegarde developed a friendship along the way and the two of them took a liking to each other and began dating. However, Jim never really got over Melissa. Then he met a younger woman named Erin during a business trip while he was going through a self-described "midlife crisis" of sorts and left his family, admitting to Hildegard that he sometimes felt like their marriage was a sham from the start.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When Joe picks up Ceilidh for their movie date, he sees her in her sleeveless red dress. Joe is floored at the change.
    • Previously in the comic, Joe commented to Ceilidh (wearing a black turtleneck and plaid skirt at the time) how rare it is for her to wear skirts aside from her uniform.
    • Ceilidh mistakenly wears a more formal sleeveless red dress to Alison's New Year's party during Grade 11. When Ceilidh voices her misjudgment about this, Joe insinuates that this is not such a bad thing "in retrospect."
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Comic 1:64 was the first instance where the possibility of Ceilidh liking Joe was brought up:
    Alison: I think you like him!
    Ceilidh: Oh, God no! It's not like that!
    • Comic 1:78 has Ceilidh denying this again to Alison; in 1:79 Alison makes another insinuation which is Played for Laughs:
    Alison: I heard you and Phoebe had something going on ...
    Ceilidh: There's nothing between Phoebe and I! We just talked!!
    Alison: (raises eyebrow) Are you sure you're having guy troubles, Ceilidh?
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: When Ceilidh's efforts to win over Iain remained fruitless, she turns her attentions to Joe. This trope also applies to Deirdre and Ryan.
  • Sleep Learning: Joe dreams of Geddy Lee quizzing him on the following day's history exam, despite Joe's protestations that he wanted to sleep.
  • Slice of Life: A fairly realistic teen Dramedy at that.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Ceilidh started becoming this from the second year onward, when the other characters' family strife and the consequences of their shared Backstory began to drive the strip.
  • Student Council President: Joe ran for election in Grade 11. At the podium on the school stage he started reciting the "I Am Canadian" speech until he was interrupted by Alan.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Defied. Jim Page may have had some understandable reasons for having an affair (feeling that his marriage to Hildegard wasn't genuine due to never really getting over his first love Melissa, Hildegard's sister), but he doesn't make any excuses for his actions and calls leaving his family the worst mistake he ever made in his life.
  • Take Back Your Gift: While they weren't going out - although it almost happened! - Ceilidh takes off the necklace to return it to Alan. He was actually okay with it since he is now under the assumption that she is a lesbian. Ceilidh drops the necklace in shock.
  • Teen Drama: Boy, is there ever!
  • Temporary Love Interest: Ceilidh gets an unrequited crush on the Australian exchange student Iain upon their first meeting. Eventually, Iain moves back to Australia when the school year ends, and nothing happens between them.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: At his goodbye party, Iain delivers one to Alison, calling her an arrogant jerkass who tries to act like she's better than everyone yet is actually living a sad existence because she doesn't let herself have fun or enjoy anything.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Deirdre is very noticeably taller than Ryan, by about half a head. Justified Trope here, as she is at least three to four years older than him.
  • Tomboy: Ceilidh tends to dress more casually and be overly aggressive when challenged, especially by Joe. Noelle can also qualify.
  • Title Confusion: Josh Phillips could not obtain Avalon.Com (currently home to Avalon Capital Group) to host his comic, and thus spent much time over the life of the strip explaining that the title was not, in fact, Avalon High, it's just the closest he could get.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ceilidh and Alison in the first few months, when the latter was more innocent and Phoebe hadn't yet supplanted her as the former's primary Foil.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Alison got noticeably more arrogant and full of herself as the strip progressed, although it is played sympathetically in an Inferiority Superiority Complex fashion, as it's clear much of it is based around her insecurity over her not being as much of a social butterfly like Iain.
  • Was It All a Lie?: See Let's Just Be Friends above.
  • We Used to Be Friends: In Grade 9, Joe had feelings for Phoebe but did not act on them due to uncertainty if his feelings would be reciprocated. Phoebe started going out with Todd at the same time Alan started seeing Helène. As a result, Joe felt abandoned and his friendship with Phoebe was changed.
  • Wham Episode: "Love and War, Part 2", where Ryan and Deidre's relationship is fully revealed including the fact that it's progressed to sleeping with each other, the specifics of Deidre's history with her ex Patrick and how it tore up the Bradley family, and Phoebe finally learns about both what Ceilidh and Joe have done for her.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Joe and Ceilidh throughout most of the comic's run. They don't, deciding they're Better as Friends.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Nancy ambushes Joe in the halls with one after school hours.
  • You Didn't Ask: Ceilidh finally learns the identity of her secret admirer at Hildegarde's Café — from Alison, who admitted to witnessing Alan leaving the necklace in her tent.
    Ceilidh: And you didn't tell me??
    Alison: I thought you knew already! I mean, you never asked.