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Webcomic / Nature of Nature's Art

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"Animals have long been our cohabitants on this planet, but they have no structure in their lives apart from instinct. Homo sapiens sapiens has dominated the landscape thanks to its unsurpassed primacy in communication skills. But what forces fueled this engine?

It is the power of Art which the animals turn to in solving this problem. Ambitiously adopting the title of 'man', they are determined to control Art and create a prosperous society for themselves. But Art is not easily understood, its powers dangerous and meaning fleeting. For to understand Art, the animals must peer into the depths of their own nature, and excise the animal itself, becoming human. Just how incredible is this feat?"

Alternative explanation in simpler English: in the future of an alternate universe, animals have evolved human-level intelligence, and are trying to develop a society comparable to that of humans. Just like humans, people have different opinions about what the best way to do this might be. Naturally this can result in fighting — both figurative and literal.

This is the idea behind Zachary Braun's Nature Of Nature's Art: an experimental webcomic with martial arts, talking animals, plenty of big words, flashy special effects and potentially frightening imagery. It's also a character drama with surprisingly deep, psychological and difficult themes, dealing with such subjects as exploitation and insanity. And the art is spectacular, despite being drawn in oekaki.

So far, the comic consists of three self-contained story arcs, all of which have been completed. In order of publication, they are:

  • 10%+: It is the year 2108. Meander, a maned wolf and college student, develops a metanoia (an innovative martial arts style) which allows him to focus his attention on dozens of things at once — but this turns out to be damaging to his mind. Meanwhile, two teachers at the same college have been working on a solution to an economic crisis: turn wild coyotes into mindless slaves. When Meander finds out, he is outraged. Cue the epic battle.
  • Secretary: SV is an eccentric degu who basically wants to be famous - but in animal society, that requires inventing something which can be used to help it progress. His idea? Years ago, his tooth stopped growing after he was bitten by his older brother; he decides to try harnessing the power which stops it from growing. This leads him to enroll in the college, become markscraft to a jerboa called XZ, fight to keep his mind outside of convention, go into self-imposed exile, and discover a terrifying power. But what is its secret? What is malice, and what causes it?
  • Lycosa: This arc is about SPIDERS. Specifically, it stars Lycosa gulosa, a "spider ronin" who's looking for her lost egg sac. Meanwhile, a group of spiders called the Venom 8 Team are trying to create some sort of internet-like information network... using egg sacs. Guess who's unhappy when she finds out that her unhatched kids have been stolen?
  • Solar System: Several hundred years after the events of 10%, humans and animals have united their societies, and animal factures have been used to advance human technology in all areas of society. A small company's mission into space is interrupted by extraterrestrial invaders, and to get back to Earth in time to save it, they must meet and ally with the other sapient societies of the solar system.
  • Syconium: XX is a stoat with two innate gifts: abstract painting, and amazing physical beauty. After society fails to appreciate her artwork, she takes up prostitution to make ends meet. However, she soon catches the attention of the Moral Guardians, and is escorted to a brothel where escape is both literally and figuratively impossible. As her trapped situation becomes clear, her passionate artist persona is slowly replaced by a seductress facade, and nobody seems really interested in knowing the real XX. Is there still a way for her to return to being a respectable member of society?
  • Wild Style: Not so much an arc as a series of gag a day comics. It's had cameos from Secretary protagonist SV and 10%+ protagonist Meander, but not much else to connect it the other arcs thematically beyond sapient animals.
  • Pika: Braun's contribution to April Fools' Day, which proved so popular that it's now permanently up on the site. A Pok√©mon trainer takes a very unorthodox approach to training a Pikachu. (Be warned: it's all on one long page.)

In addition to the above, the author has stated that there is a complete but as of yet unreleased story involving ungulates, (presumably deer).

In addition, there is a print version of 10%+ which comes in six volumes, along with a seventh called The 10%+ Addendum. Secretary was also made into a print version, in four volumes. There's also a a print version of Lycosa's prologue titled (we promise you) Untitled, which comes with a car-themed calendar. Wild Style is expected to become a print version.

The webcomic — which updates as often Braun can manage it, usually weekdays at minimum — can be found here.

Tropes in NOFNA

  • 90% of Your Brain: True with Halo brains, and fairly realistic in that animals are only supposed to use 10% at once, more risks overheating.
  • Action Girl: Quintet and Fiat in 10%+; XZ/Nutsedge in Secretary; lots of spiders in Lycosa... judging from the setting, there'd also be countless others.
  • All There in the Manual: The website's "about" section has a glossary. There's also the rare print-only The 10%+ Addendum which contains two epilogues (only one of which is canon) and analyses of the different fighting styles. Presumably there'll be one for Secretary as well.
  • Alternate Calendar: The animals divide each day by four naps instead of one big long sleep. Also, a week is four days long, with the fourth day being the "weekend".
  • Alternate Timeline: The print version of Secretary has a different, though still bittersweet, ending.
  • Anachronic Order: According to Word of God, each arc is numbered according to when it takes place. Going by this, the chronological order seems to be Secretary (#12), then Lycosa (#15), then 10%+ (#50) and finally Solar System (#88).
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Happens in-universe. As the timeline progresses, halo-brained animals adopt more human traits, as seen in the clothed shrews at the end of Wild Style.
  • Arc Words: Percentages in 10%+. In particular, 10% comes up quite a bit.
  • Art Evolution
  • Art Shift:
    • On page 248 of Secretary, XZ "morphs" from a highly stylised Pikachu-like jerboa to being drawn much more realistically. In addition, from page 254 on, the previously monochrome story has COLOUR in it; this in turn leads up to a shift to full-colour after SV dies.
    • Lycosa's prologue and epilogue are done in the comic's usual full-colour style, but for the story proper it changes to a more "painted" style, possibly to reflect the fact that spiders percieve the world differently than we do. Furthermore, when Lycosa awakens the Power of I and invents a metanoia, the aliased and painterly style of the comic ceases to apply to her and she is drawn with unaliased clarity and definition.
    • Wild Style is a black-and-white comic except for the final (so far?) page, which is done in full colour.
    • A game within the comic in Solar System has anime-style art, as well as old-school pixel sprites. The guy playing the game is still done in the comic's usual style, though.
  • Author Avatar: A man that is assumed to be Zachary Braun appears sporadically (until recently) in Wild Style. His design varies wildly from page to page.
  • Babies Ever After: in Lycosa the titular character adopts the eggsacs of the late Venom 8.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first two arcs.
  • Black Humor: Lycosa Gulosa loves it.
  • Body Horror: Quite a bit of it in Secretary. Ye have been warned.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Polarizing spends an awful lot of time talking and boasting about the things he can do to Quintet, instead of actually doing most of them.
  • Book Ends: Lycosa
  • Broken Pedestal
  • Calling Your Factures:
    • If someone's calling the facture they're using, the name of the facture and/or style is emphasised. How emphasised? On one end of the spectrum, bigger and bolder letters are used. On the other end, it might as well be called Calligraphy Porn.
    • This went up to eleven in Lycosa, with its animated speech bubbles. Lycosa's facture names must be seen to be believed.
  • Cain and Abel: The alternate ending of Secretary.
  • Cartoony Eyes: Used in 10%+ to show that differentiate between the sapient animals, and those that have had their halo brain destroyed.
  • Cats Are Mean: Subverted with Quintet in 10%+.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe/Your Mind Makes It Real: The animals' martial arts styles run at least partially on this, to the point that denial is a viable combat tactic. There's also mention of a "telenoetic barrier" which, if pierced, makes denial useless; this is what can potentially make telenoises dangerous.
  • Contemplate Our Navels
  • Courtroom Arc: The second half of 10%+.
  • Darker and Edgier: Secretary.
  • Deceptive Disciple
  • Decoy Protagonist: With his character development and focus at the start of 10%+, Meander certainly seems to be the arc's hero. Sadly, his personality is destroyed halfway through, passing the torch to Quintet to finish the story.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Secretary. At first.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In spades.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": In a variant, every named spider character in Lycosa goes by their species' scientific name. It also takes advantage of how one particular species of spider is known by multiple scientific names: "Lycosa gulosa" and "Gladicosa gulosa".
    • There's even an equivalent for first name/last name basis; species name is used mainly in a familiar context (Lycosa calls Pisaurina "Mira", for instance), while genus name appears to be more formal for talking to strangers (and is used in dialogue tags).
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: SV's mother.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Removing an animal's halo brain destroys its personality and memories, leaving it as an utterly base animal. Poor Meander.
  • Final Speech: Every single antagonist in Lycosa, usually with shades of Dying as Yourself.
  • Foreshadowing: When Pisaurina siccs a mantis on her, Lycosa briefly tries to scare it away by acting like a mantis herself, before realizing that's a stupid idea given the circumstances. After escaping, Lycosa remarks that it's cool in theory, but would probably only work with other spiders. The Power Of I is a metanoia based on Power Copying other spiders through mimicry.
  • For Want Of A Nail:
    • So what caused the differences between this Earth and ours? The moon formed differently. note 
    • The print version of Secretary had another unlikely divergence point from the web version. A different eye turned red.
  • Filler: Wild Style. Arguably Pika as well, but the latter seems too ambitious (and only appears once a year anyway) to count.
  • From Bad to Worse: Secretary in a nutshell.
  • Furries Are Easier to Draw: Averted. The more recent arcs show that Braun is not only perfectly capable of drawing humans, but just as good at it as he is at drawing animals.
  • Future Imperfect: Compare Solar System's in-story retelling of 10%+ to what actually happened. You'll find a few differences...
  • Genre Shift: The first few arcs are pretty much Xenofiction. Then there's Solar System, which has humans and sapient animals mingling, focuses on technology, features aliens as the antagonists, and is generally a different kind of sci-fi to what we've seen in the comic before.
  • Giant Spider: Lycosa usually averts this (even featuring a really tiny one), though it still features Theraphosa blondi, the very aptly-named Goliath Birdeater. It dwarfs the titular wolf spider.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: One of the comic's draws, although this isn't quite as obvious in 10%+.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Lycosa does this with insects of all things - first with a praying mantis, and more recently with a wasp.
  • Humans Are Special: After failing to get any other animal to draw something funny enough for Wild Style, Braun, one of the planet's "Ultimate Organisms", steps up to the plate. And bombs miserably.
  • Hurricane of Puns: One page of Wild Style has a bunch of "chip" puns. (Mostly visual, of course.) Naturally, some of them involve chipmunks.
  • Improvised Weapon: Lycosa of, um, Lycosa uses plenty of improvised weaponry, as her compulsion to carry an egg sac drives her to pick up debris in its place, which becomes weaponry when she gets into a fight. Thanks to spiders being so much smaller than humans, a pill effectively becomes a gigantic club, and the prongs of a capacitor make a dangerous lance. Lampshaded when she tries to adopt a golf ball for this purpose, only to abandon it because it's way too big for her. Somehow, she manages to use an even bigger weapon later on... a desktop electric fan!
  • Instant Expert: When major characters learn Metanoia/Telenoia, they tend to also learn all of their factures within the systems. Most obvious when SV unlocks the Telenoia of Malice and Lycosa taps The Power Of "I".
  • Individuality Is Outdated: Venom 8's plan to borrow eggsacs from every spider wasn't some diabolical scheme by they and their supporter's estimation due to this trope. Every one else was so thoroughly on board with it, it hadn't occurred to them that someone would object.
  • Kiai: "MARK!" (There's no clear in-universe explanation for where that one came from.)
  • Killer Rabbit: Let's just say that not all of the comic's ass-kickers are animals you'd expect to be able to kick ass. In particular, a number of characters in Secretary fit, since it's mostly about rodents.
  • Lighter and Softer: Wild Style.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Wild Style, though it works well with the slapstick humor. Solar System does this as well; at one point it's implied that human and animal society merged.
  • Longest Prologue Ever: Solar System currently holds the record for the longest one in the comic, taking over 60 pages to get to the title. This is going to be a lengthy story-arc...
  • Magitek: Among other things, in Solar System, factures have been used to allow people to talk directly to their computers. And vice versa.
  • Medium Blending: In Lycosa, animated arrows appear in the speech bubbles you have to highlight to translate the spider speech every so often in order to better demonstrate the sense of movement, surprise, or the emotions a spider face is completely incapable of conveying. Later on in the arc, animated speech bubbles are used to elaborate the supernatural quality of Lycosa's factures with ridiculously complex animations
  • Meaningful Name: If a character has a proper name, then it's near-guaranteed to be one of these. Justified - they picked their names themselves.
  • Mind Screw: The author has stated that one of the reasons he started creating the webcomic is that he couldn't find any difficult webcomics to read. Even though some apparent mind screws end up making sense in context or hindsight, it's a difficult read.
  • Mood Whiplash: The manic Wild Style ends with a serious, semi-autobiographical page about a frustrated artist.
  • Mundane Utility: Possible inversion; very few styles are used exclusively for combat. Many are/were developed for non-combat use and just happened to be useable in combat (for example, Meander's metanoia). In fact, there are actually styles which are not supposed to be used to attack someone!
  • Mythology Gag: A few jokes in Wild Style. SV's/Malice's over dramatic speech giving is parodied in the second strip, and the halo brain-dead Meander is described as the "perfect man" by a female maned wolf in another.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Had Rule not used Galena on Meander, Meander would likely have been found guilty, and the question of the legality of destroying the halo brain might never have become an issue, seeing how Quintet only cared because it was used on her best friend.
  • One-Steve Limit: Played straight as a plot point in Lycosa, despite the spiders only using scientific names for themselves. Two spiders of the same species are using different classifications for themselves, giving them different genus names.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Having a name is one of the highest prestiges in this setting. Most animals are therefore known by scent codes (usually abbreviated to the last two letters), by where they're from, or by nicknames.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The halo brain, which contains the will and personality of each individual. Destroying it renders the poor victim a Soulless Shell.
  • Painting the Medium: One page of Secretary is a blank webpage, presumably to convey loss of consciousness. If that wasn't enough, towards the end, the webpages change background colour to go along with the comic doing the same. Lycosa goes even further; aside from an above-mentioned Art Shift, you have to mouse over the speech bubbles in order to read them.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • An example for a character rather than a story: "[...]the origin of malice will be your own damn self."
    • Polarizing in 10+ originally had a literal one of these, as well, followed shortly by a Cluster F-Bomb spawned from sheer rage.
  • Promotional Images Always Spoil: The promotional image for the print version of Secretary depicts one of the major differences from the web version: a fight between NT and Malice!SV.
  • Punched Across the Room: Played straight (and occasionally for laughs) in 10%+, and nastily subverted in Secretary. TY, the punch-ee, is killed almost instantly by the impact.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Give me. My. CHILDREN BACK!
  • Redemption Equals Death: SV is an arguable case, as in his dying moments he realises that the origin of malice is, "your own damn self"... whatever that means. This did redeem him in the eyes of some anti-SV readers, in any case.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Played straight in 10%+ with Amanita. Secretary plays with the trope.
  • Rule of Cool: The martial arts styles thrive on this trope (one example being a style that turns your teeth red and apparently rips some of the blood out of your opponent). And even in Lycosa the rule's in full effect. An early fight scene can basically be summed up as, "a fist fight while bungee-jumping".
  • Scenery Porn
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Oh dear god. Big words are everywhere - in the martial arts techniques, in dialogue, in the freaking manual, everywhere.
  • She Who Fights Monsters: Lycosa Gulosa certainly has shades of this in her brutality, apathy, and penchant for black humor each time she offs an enemy. Though, ultimately this led to Lycosa's heroic Mega Manning of her enemies — she understood the individual identity, uniqueness and worth of her enemies and internalized them, leading to her invention of her own metanoia.
  • Shown Their Work: While Braun does slip up at times, the comic is surprisingly well-researched overall.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Rivalry: NT has some issues with SV.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Partially Civilized Animals in Secretary and Lycosa. Civilized Animals in 10% and Solar System. In all cases, they retain their animal anatomy.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Poor XZ got this from tons of people, leading to her decision to quit the college.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The antagonists of Solar System can destroy planets and recreate them with little problem. All of the other planets' inhabitants also have technology far in advance of Earth's, usually to do with dimensional manipulation.
  • Taking You with Me: Rule to Meander... sort of.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The various moves of the styles are often (but not always) named like this. Some examples: both versions of SV's malice style and Lycosa's factures.
    • At least some of Solar System's characters have a space theme going on in their names - Yuri is likely named after Yuri Gargarin, Able after a monkey who went to space, and Strelka after a Russian space dog. (She even points out that there's a reason she wasn't named Laika.)
    • Floral Theme Naming: A fair few animals take their names (or nicknames) from plantlife, such as Amanita and Talinum from 10%+ and Chrysanthemum, Marigold (SV) and Nutsedge (XZ) from Secretary. Note that Nutsedge is the only female character on this list.
  • Translation Convention: In 10%+ and Secretary, characters are assumed to be speaking the common language when their text is handwritten (and looks "rougher"). When speaking their species's own tongue (which can still be learned by some other animals) their text is typed in a very clean, simple font. In Lycosa, it is implied that spiders somehow communicate visually, with little speech bubbles filled with images depicting what the spider wishes to convey to others that must be moused over for a proper English translation.
  • Translator Microbes: The animals in Solar System still speak Common, but they (and humans) are permanently connected to a world-wide network that handles the translation for them. When Discovery is stranded in space, the signal to the 'net is lost, and the astronauts have to fall back on more primitive translators.
  • Unusual Euphemism: How in the colulus did Braun come up with "SUCK MY PALP"?!
  • Visual Pun: Lycosa's image speech bubbles are brimming with them.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Rule to Meander.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Possibly SV; definitely 10%'s Rule and Polarizing and Lycosa's Gulosa.
  • Wham Line: Solar System: "That's Plutonian technology."
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: Defied in Solar System when deciding what to name a new space shuttle.
    Abe: 'Challenger'.
    Strelka: Ah... the Challenger blew up.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: One could argue that the entire purpose of Lycosa is to challenge this trope, by making the audience sympathise with realistically-drawn, (somewhat) realistically-behaving spiders. So far, it seems to be working.
  • Xenofiction

Alternative Title(s): Ten Percent Plus