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Webcomic / Checkerboard Nightmare

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Hello TV Traps Wikipedia! It's me, Checkerboard Nightmare! You may remember me from my hit webcomic, Checkerboard Nightmare! What you may not know is that it's always been my dream to be on TV. In fact, I almost had my own series, but those executives were too small-minded to recognize the brilliance of my pilot script for Hard Action Squad and the Space Valkyries. And if you've read my comic, Checkerboard Nightmare, then surely you know that I'm all over the traps. All kinds of traps: booby traps, trap doors... booby traps...

What's that? TV Tropes? Is that even English? Oh, stab me in the face with lasers, I gotta go! Remember to read Checkerboard Nightmare!

Bad Chex! Back in your box!


Checkerboard Nightmare was Kris Straub's first webcomic. It tells the epic story of Checkerboard Nightmare and his Sisyphean quest to improve the readership of his webomic, Checkerboard Nightmare.

As you may have noticed, Chex is a bit of a Shameless Self-Promoter, and the comic likes to abuse the Fourth Wall. The premise, coupled with Chex's complete aversion to coming up with new ideas, gave the comic a platform for very thorough satire of Webcomics.

Aside from the title character, the central cast consists of:

  • Lyle, the quintessential Straight Man and Chex's defense attorney.
  • Vaporware, the obligatory "wacky" cast member: a robot who dreams of killing all humans and enjoys choking people.
  • Polkadot Dream, the obligatory girl: the bona-fide star of her own webcomic, and Chex's unrequited love interest.

In 2005, the comic came to an end. Then Kris Straub revived it and retooled it as an irregularly-updated, strictly gag-per-day affair; the last strip of this incarnation was posted in 2007. Straub's ownership of the strip's site ( lapsed in 2015, but its content is still available through the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine, and for the 2000-2005 run also on Kris Straub's own sitenote .

Vaporware went on to become a minor villain in Starslip. Chex made a brief cameo in Starslipnote  and Chainsawsuit, where he tried in vain to make one last comeback.

Provides examples of:

  • Bestiality Is Depraved: The revelation that Dot has had relationships with (sentient but non-anthro) cats completely overshadows the revelation that her art style was plagiarized from Chex.
  • Call to Agriculture: Vaporware's brief career as a strawberry farmer.
  • Canon Welding: In the final strip Vaporware is sealed in a water heater and launched into space. Several millennia later, he is picked up and reactivated by the crew of the Fuseli...
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Lampshaded—it's known as Canonitis and it's a potentially fatal illness.
  • Crossover: Too many to list them all.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Initially the comic was black and white, then switched to color when Chex visited some other comics. Eventually settled on black and white inside Chex's comic and full color outside the comic.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Subverted. We're led to expect a sanity-shattering Lovecraftian monster when we're told that the Unraveled is beyond human comprehension. Turns out it's a being whose enlightenment and selflessness are beyond human comprehension. But then he gets corrupted by the Apocalypse Shard and turns evil during the end of the series. He gets better.
  • Final Battle: The first comic ends with an all-out brawl between the main cast, the entire Universe Of Failure, and every character Chex has ever wronged.
  • Follow the Leader: In-Universe. Chex seems incapable of originality, as he's constantly looking for new trends to piggyback on for fame and fortune.
  • Funeral Cut: The final comic was a parody of both xkcd and The Perry Bible Fellowship. A romantic nerd sits around, waiting for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to come and shake his life up... then we cut to his tombstone. There's no explanation for how he died.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Shrodinger the Cat. He can see every possible reality at once, and has been driven insane by the knowledge.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Anything the Unraveled says.
  • Jerkass: Chex. He may simply be legally insane.
  • Kill All Humans: Vaporware's stated goal is to exterminate humanity. Mostly he just settles for choking Lyle.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Gets a lampshade hanging itself.
    Chex: All I have to do is take a bunch of webcomic conventions that people know, parade them in my strip—not even really do anything with them—and in acknowledging them, make myself out to be a master satirist!
  • The Monolith: They're like vermin, actually.
  • No Fourth Wall: This comic doesn't just break it; this comic took the fourth wall out behind the shed and shot it. Then burned the body and snorted the ashes.
    • Turned on its head during a storyline where Vaporware decides to rebuild the fourth wall, causing Chex and a bunch of characters from various self-referential franchises to try to stop him. He manages to defeat them all and rebuild the wall, only for things to return to normal shortly afterwards.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: As it turns out, Dot owes most of her in-universe readership to this.
  • Scolding the Fourth-Wall Breaker: The comic broke the fourth wall constantly, but wasn't above mocking the concept as well. In one story arc, Vaporware decides that fourth-wall-breaking is just a crutch for lazy comedy writers, and he completely bricks over the fourth wall so it can never be broken again. (Naturally, a Snap Back undid this at the end of the arc.)
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: Chex may very well be the patron saint of this trope.

Chex: I've been thinking about the nature of the self-aware comicstrip lately.
Chex: Normally, whenever a strip runs out of ideas, it becomes self-referential.
Chex: I've been self-referential from the beginning.
Chex: I think I've been giving my readers the wrong impression.
Vaporware: I don't.