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Webcomic / O Human Star

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Alastair Sterling (top-left), Brendan Pinsky (bottom) and Sulla Pinsky (top right).
"Are you just going to stand there?"

Created by Blue Delliquanti. The webcomic can be found here. The rare page is Not Safe for Work, and the webcomic overall is intended only for audiences 16 and older.

There is a character sheet.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: Starts with Al's death, jumps forward 16 years, and then starting in Chapter Two there are flashbacks to when Al and Brendan first met.
  • Art Evolution: Early art of the characters had a rougher look before having a consistent look throughout the later chapters. Nowadays, Al's mustache is more noticeable, Brendan has fewer wrinkles in the present time, and Sulla is more expressive.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Did you look at the page image and first thought that the webcomic was a dramatic story about the effects of a lover's death and the humanity of being an android? Downplayed in the comic itself, due to the monochromic colorization setting up the mood to be more melancholic.
  • Beat Panel: Lots; a particularly egregious example is here.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Yep.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Al displays a copious amount in the opening scene.
  • Bonus Material: Oh, Maker, a mini-comic published before the webcomic began, set to song lyrics and depicting Brendan and Sulla's domestic life as father and daughter before Al came Back from the Dead. It also foreshadows that Sulla knew even before Al's reawakening that the two men had been lovers.
  • Brain Uploading: Done to Al when he dies. The scan is used to create Sulla and robot!Al.
  • Cassandra Truth: Brendan didn't bring Al back, and he doesn't know who did. Al doesn't believe him until Brendan notices Al has the multitool that he'd been desperately searching for:
    Brendan: Where did you get that?
    Al: As I recall, it was a birthday present, Brendan.
    Brendan: How the hell did you get your multitool back? You can't have — there's no way.
    Al: It's mine.
    Brendan: Don't pull that with me. Only I knew where I kept it. You couldn't have found it.
    Al: I woke up with it in my pocket. You ought to know that, seeing as you put it there.
    Brendan: You don't still think I —
    Brendan: Al, you died. I thought you were gone.
    Al: Why wouldn't you give this back to me? Makes it a perfect picture, doesn't it?
    Brendan: Stop it.
    Al: Really completes the whole thing.
    Brendan: I told you, I didn't bring you back —
    Al: Really.
    Brendan: You're not supposed to have the multitool anymore —
    Al: Then why do you care about this so much? Who is this for?
    Brendan: I was saving it for Sulla!
    Brendan: I was going to give her the multitool.
    Brendan: For her sixteenth birthday.
    Brendan: *Death Glare*
    Brendan: For her sixteenth birthday.
    Al: You didn't do it.
    Brendan: And now he listens.
  • Cast Full of Gay: And one Transgender girl — and one Love Interest who so self-identifies as both a boy and a girl(the narrative and other characters so far have managed to avoid referring to Ty by any pronoun).
  • Cerebus Retcon: There's a drawing by the artist that shows a humorous image of Brendan lying flirtatiously on top of a monitor while Gimel is beside him. The problem? Gimel turns out to have been created long after Al's death, making this Brendan a Stepford Smiler.
  • Character Exaggeration: The characters in the author's tumblr blog are much more comedic than in the comic. Al's a lot shyer to the point of Tsundere, Brendan's either a lot more flirty or more like a typical father, and Sulla acts more stereotypically a teenager.
  • Chekhov's Armoury
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The scenes from the present day are colored in different shades of blue, flashbacks are red, flashbacks from Sulla's perspective are green, and dream sequences can be one or the other.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Al is blue, Brendan is red, and Sulla is green.
  • Curse Cut Short/Last-Second Word Swap: This. Sulla, floating upside down, approaches Al from behind and abruptly starts speaking.
    Sulla: Brendan gave you clearance, you know.
    Al: FFFFFFFFFfly. You can fly. That's right. Okay.
  • Destructive Romance: The reason why robot!Al and Brendan take such a long time to reconcile is due to Brendan's history trying to create a copy of Al and Al having issues dealing with his current status as an android and being scared that he might hurt Brendan due to not knowing the limits of his power.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Sulla's experience as a synthetic human has similar implications to being transgender (although Sulla happens to be both).
  • Eating Machine: Robots can eat, but mostly survive on fructose as it can be effectively converted into energy.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Al and Brendan both.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Reading the comic a second time with Al’s gender identity in mind reveals a lot of scenes have double (or even triple) meanings.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: This page (worksafe) and the page after it (less so) which together form a Splash Panel.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Al and Brendan did this a lot. They still do it, even after Al's 16-year absence.
  • First-Episode Twist: Al dies and comes back as a robot. Also, Sulla is a copy of Al's mind who was raised by Brendan and a transgender girl.
  • Flashback: Half the comic is this, and the story keeps alternating between flashbacks and present day, seamlessly except for the change in color scheme.
  • Foreshadowing: Constantly. Multiple rereads of the webcomic yield new revelations to the reader.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: The characters occasionally answer questions on the author's tumblr.
  • Funny Background Event: Used here.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: A major breakthrough for Al and Brendan was when Brendan explained his theory of Brain Uploading as the first step to true artificial intelligence — saying that an artificial program copied from a human one would eventually develop into its own person, distinct and self-aware.
  • It Is Dehumanising: This.
    Al: Why the hell is that thing a girl, Brendan?
    Brendan: You can't call them things, Al, they have rights under state law now.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Ty remarks not wanting to be seen like "I'm a robot or something" in front of Sulla...who is a synthetic person and incredibly insecure about it, although Ty doesn't know this.
  • In the Blood: Well in the "data", because they're both robots but both robot!Al and Sulla suffer a huge identity crisis in front of Brendan after they realize a part of their current selves they're scared of.
  • May–December Romance: Brendan with Al, who is 17 years older. After Al dies and reawakens 16 years later, they're closer to the same age.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Are you just going to stand there?"
    • Kind of a weird example, because the first time it's said it's a deliberate Meaningful Echo, but the context isn't revealed until later. The first time the readers hear it, it's what makes Brendan realize he's talking to the real Al, because it's what Al said right before their first kiss.
  • Meaningful Name: Sulla is the name of a character from R.U.R., and it's a boy's name but it was given to a female robot. Al looks like AI in a lot of fonts, such as this one, although the author said on their tumblr that it was a coincidence.
  • Modesty Bed Sheet: This.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The setting of O Human Star is never stated outright, but is heavily implied (and confirmed Word of God) to be Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's actually more like the location isn't supposed to be a secret, but there has been no reason for any of the characters to mention the city's name — if they refer to it at all, it's just "the city."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Someone managed to bring Al back to life when Brendan, who was only second to Al in the robotics department, couldn't do it, in addition to knowing a creepy number of details about his life (such as recreating Al's old apartment and basing the synthetics sent to pick him up on his old designs), and even stealing Al's multi-tool, apparently from Brendan's home. And no one in the cast knows who they are and how they did this. This gets explained later.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Brendan's conversation with a newly awaken Sulla implies he feels this about his last words to Al.
    What was the last thing you ever heard me say?
  • Pick Your Human Half: Averted by Al and Sulla, who both look and act completely human (except Sulla can fly). Played straight by Brendan's Gimel 75 butler who acts fairly human but looks robotic.
    • Sulla goes into more detail here, while part of it is personal preference due to a greater degree of ability to modify their forms, a lot of synthetics simply can't afford the tech that allows them to pull of the Ridiculously Human Robots look that they have.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Robot!Al's anger at Brendan comes from the fact that he doesn't know the full story. By the time he learns the majority of it, he had already done a few misguided actions.
  • Queer Romance
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": This.
  • Red Herring:
    • The mention of the various clones of Al in the first chapter along with the two recreations of Al in the flashbacks might imply that Al had a stalker all along. That's not the case. Those two recreations were simply there to remind Brendan about his dead partner.
    • You can argue that one could have confused that Brendan and Al had a familial relationship, such as being Uncle and Nephew, before The Big Damn Kiss, though the comic's status as Queer Media make it so that their relationship is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Brendan and Al, matching up with their associated colors.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Al and Sulla. Justified in that they're copies of a human mind.
    • It's also possible for synthetics who decide not to Pick Your Human Half to look pretty human, though looking as human as Sulla and Al is pretty expensive at the time the comic is set.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Occasionally, when Al and Brendan have sex.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Al and Sulla both pick at things. Also, Sulla and young Al have trouble working up the nerve to talk to people.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: No matter how many arguments Al and Brendan get into, they still love each other]]
  • Soul Jar: This is precisely what Al and Brendan try to make, and it's what Al's new synthetic body effectively is for him.
  • Splash of Color: In the beginning of the comic, during Al's blue-colored pages. Al walks home bleeding all over the place, reaches the bed, and dies. The blood trail is a conspicuous red color.
    • More subtly, Al's multitool has a slight pink sheen
  • Stalker Without A Crush: Whoever revived Al, with all the attention to detail spent in the attempt, gives off this vibe.
  • That Came Out Wrong/Accidental Innuendo:
    • Oh, Al.
      Al: I'm not really the hot researcher on the robotics circuit you're confusing me for. I don't get calls. And the competition for your job wasn't exactly stiff.
      Brendan: I find that hard to believe.
    • Also:
      Brendan: You can sleep in my bed. ...while I take the couch, I mean. Downstairs. In the workshop. I've pulled some all-nighters in there before oh god..
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The "present day" is in 2021, but flashbacks go back to 2001.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Exaggerated through most of the comic. It seems the general rule is, if Al and Brendan aren't having sex, or aren't settling into a relationship together, they quickly become UST incarnate.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Part of Robot!Al's and Sulla's issues come from that no how human they look they can never feel human and be accepted as such.