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Out There is a webcomic by R. C. Monroe. It focuses on the exploits of Miriam, a hedonistic, self-centered, self-destructive bartender with a good heart and a strong desire to change for the better—as long the change doesn’t interfere with her endless search for pleasure. Yes, she's a bit conflicted. Out There features an ensemble cast (Miriam’s various friends, lovers, ex-lovers, would-be lovers, etc.), some of whom are occasionally featured in their own arcs, but it’s mostly The Miriam Show, because she wouldn't have it any other way.

Using a four-panel (five in the early days), black-and-white Newspaper Comic format, Out There updated six days a week without fail from June 12, 2006 to June 4, 2011. The week of June 6-10, 2011 marked the beginning of a five week strip- the author citing time constraints and the inability to support himself solely on the strip as reasons why he cut the Saturday strip. As of June 2013, it's switched to one larger color strip per week, alternating with new comics In Here (an alternate continuity involving Miriam) and Cliché Flambé (Miriam and company Breaking the Fourth Wall to present author rants about a new cliché each week). As of March 2016 there are no new updates.

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Out There is a "quiet" comedy; there's a punchline at the end of every strip, but the humor is generally subtle and understated. At its heart, Out There is a character drama, and its characters are well-developed, complex, and realistic.

Not to be confused with the IFC cartoon, Out There.


Tropes:

  • French Maid: Miriam decides the costume is ideal for cleaning Ari's condominium, and also for seducing her.
  • Friends with Benefits: Most notably, Miriam and Steven, post-breakup. A few other pairings have taken place (or are implied to have taken place) as a part of the back story: Sherry and Steven, Miriam and Wally, and possibly even Miriam and Sherry; there is also a reference to a Friends With Benefits relationship between Miriam and a character named Carlos in one of the flashback stories in the third Out There book.
Sherry, knowing everyone who was given a hypothetical persona, figures it out.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Rod and Araceli, Araceli and Sherry
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: John. It tends to drive everyone else (especially Miriam) nuts, but at the same time he is respected by all for it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Miriam always needs a freaking drink. Sherry, Araceli, Rebecca, et. al. sometimes need a freaking drink. Clayton never needs one, but he'll have one anyway, thank you.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: To varying degrees, almost all of the major male characters (the exceptions being John and Chuck). James is selfish and abrasive, arrogant, constantly borrowing money without paying it back; he also volunteers at a homeless shelter. Clayton is surly, has been known to steal alcohol from his favorite bar, and is constantly seen mooching off of others; but he refused to take advantage of Miriam when she was drunk. Steven and Rod are unrepentant philanderers, but are generally loyal and respectful towards their ex-flame-cum-best-friends (Sherry and Araceli, respectively). Wally is a repentant (and former) philanderer. Considering the fact the main character, Miriam, has enough flaws to fill a book (while remaining unerringly sympathetic) Out There seems to be a world where everyone is a little bad, but nobody is too bad (although the near-saintly John is an idiosyncratic exception).
  • Little Black Dress: A favorite of both Miriam and Sherry.
  • Love Dodecahedron: All of the major characters, with the notable exception of John, have at one time or another been infatuated with at least one of the other major characters. Miriam, as the main character, has dated, had flings with, or been otherwise at least temporarily fascinated with no less than 8 major characters: John (unrequited love/lust), Wally (fling, as part of the back story), Chuck ("officially" dated), Clayton (aborted fling), Sherry (unconfirmed, but strongly implied, past fling and/or relationship), Rod (fling), Steven ("officially" dated), and Araceli (infatuation); this doesn't even cover the list of characters (most of them minor or non-recurring characters) who have been at least temporarily captivated by her. While Miriam holds the record in all love/lust categories, Sherry's list is almost as impressive (embarrassing?): Steven (dated, as part of the back story), John (brief, and relatively mild, infatuation during a short period of essentially platonic dating), Chuck (big-time crush, finally culminating in an "official" relationship that is ongoing), Rod (brief interest until he "blew it"), Clayton (one-sided—he wants her, she's repulsed), Araceli (one-sided—Sherry is clueless about Ari's infatuation), and of course, Miriam (unconfirmed). Out There is unabashedly a soap opera.
  • Mile-High Club: Implied, subtly, here
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Characters (mostly the females) are sometimes shown bathing, undressing, or lounging in bed. Usually they are seen from the shoulders up, or from the rear (so that only a naked back is visible); otherwise, a Modesty Bedsheet provides cover. Interestingly, Rebecca and Wally, the only married couple in the strip, are also the only people ever portrayed under the sheets ''together''; non-married couples are usually seen fully clothed, laying on top of the sheets.
  • Modesty Towel: Miriam on occasion, others (like Sherry) less frequently.
  • Reformed Rakes: Rod offers this.
  • Ship Sinking: Martha, echoing a large part of the audience, thought that Sherry and Miriam had been sleeping together in their younger years; Sherry shoots the idea down flat, apparently genuinely surprised Martha thought so—although Martha herself still isn't convinced.
  • Shrug of God: Since sex is never actually depicted in Out There, Monroe states in his blog that it's up to the reader to decide how far things go.
    What I’ve tried to do with Out There is have it both ways. Whichever way you think it oughta be, you win. If you think that Miriam and Chuck should have had sex, and Araceli and Rod should have had sex, and Sherry and Steven must have had sex, then okay—they had sex. Everyone who you think should have had sex with whoever they should have had sex with, did. You just didn’t see it. If, on the other hand, it makes you happier to think that Miriam and Chuck made out a lot but stopped before things got too out of hand, then that’s cool too—there’s nothing in the strip that proves otherwise. Winners everywhere.
  • Sign of the Apocalypse: When Miriam stops talking.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: It's very strongly suggested Araceli only started identifying as fully lesbian to escape Rod's advances.
  • Spicy Latina: Araceli is an aversion to this trope. She's more shy and vulnerable than the other two (white) female leads, and usually dresses more conservatively. Less of a tomboy as well. And a lesbian, if that means anything.
    • Sherry actually fits the trope reasonably well, notwithstanding the fact that she's not a Latina.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Miriam is seen shirtless from the rear occasionally; as are others (such as Rebecca), although less frequently.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Out There is something of a World of Snark, so many of the close friendships therein follow Type 2 (Miriam and Sherry, Sherry and Steven, Araceli and Rod, James and Chuck), and a few of the relationships seem to embody Type 1 (Miriam and James, Sherry and Clayton, Miriam and Clayton). The schizophrenic nature of these relationships is well represented here; Miriam and Sherry's volatile friendship borders on a parody of this trope at times; when they're not sniping at each other, they're often caressing each other.
  • Wham Line: When Clayton lobbies for Miriam to get a job as a stripper, Miriam gets offended—not so much at the notion of being a stripper, but because she suspects Clayton is just trying to get her to leave Sherry's bar. Clayton, offended that Miriam has taken offense, attempts to elucidate: "Anyway, don't you think any of these losers wouldn't flock to see you [work as a stripper]? Hell, I'm sure I would." The kiss afterward serves the same general purpose.
  • What Did I Do Last Night? / Did They or Didn't They?: This trope is established early in the strip's run. On the first night they meet, Miriam and John end up spending the night in a hotel together after she ties one on (nothing happens, except a REALLY good dream). In another arc about a year later, Miriam and Sherry go out drinking and the next day Miriam's memory of the night is so spotty that she can't remember if she cut her own hair (she didn't; Sherry cut it while she was sleeping). Another time, a hung-over Miriam thinks she remembers Sherry sabotaging her one-night stand, and assumes she must be remembering wrong (she isn’t). Not long after, Miriam and Clayton end up in bed together, and Miriam needs a recap the next day to find out what happened. Later, while touring with Steven's band, Miriam gets drunk at a party and and is later surprised to find a phone number written on her belly in indelible ink. Still later, Miriam wakes up on Araceli's couch and has trouble remembering what they did the night before, but she figures it out on her own, confirming (in her own mind) that she doesn't have a drinking problem, after all.
  • World of Snark: Almost all of the characters can be categorized, at least occasionally, as Deadpan Snarkers.

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