Penny Blackfeather is an ongoing fantasy adventure webcomic by Francesca Dare. It is published since January 2012 and updates on Sundays.The plot takes place in 1812 in Vanilla, England, and centers around Penelope Blake, a young woman who dreams about a life of adventure rather than the life of "cushion embroidery and ballroom dancing" she can realistically aspire to. She is also the only person who can hear the ghostly voice of her grandfather Nathaniel Blackfeather, a pirate and sorcerer, who is condemned to haunt her.
One day Penny sneaks out from a ball and goes exploring the hostess' house, having heard rumors of a haunted library. A mysterious blue feather falling through a hatch in the ceiling lures her to the roof, where she meets a strange bird and its strange owner, and gets drawn into the kind of adventure she dreamed about.
Penny Blackfeather contains examples of:
- Action Dress Rip: Penny here.
- Affectionate Nickname: Nathaniel calls his granddaughter "Sweet Pea". He calls the Adventurer, whom he doesn't like so much, "numpty".
- Agent Scully: The Adventurer utterly disbelieves in magic, monsters and ghosts. This despite having obvious magical abilities himself, running into quite a lot of monsters and being the only one beside Penny who can hear Nathaniel.The Adventurer: I just hope we don't catch whatever weird skin disease it is poor Molly has.
Penny: Wha? Disease? She had tentacles, for goodness sakes!
- Alien Blood: Princess in her human form has blue blood. Possibly caused by magic.
- Alliterative Name: Madame Miriam Mim.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Following a Meaningful Rename (sort of), Penelope Blake turns into Penny Blackfeather. The author, Francesca Dare, might also be an example if that wasn't actually her real name.
- BFS: Too big for Penny to lift, in fact.Nathaniel: It isn't heavy, Sweet Pea, you just don't have the muscle to lift the thing.
- Big Ball of Violence: Most fight scenes, really.
- Big Damn Heroes: Prepare to face the wrath of Whitby! Okay, it ends pretty quickly, but he tried, didn't he?
- Later Ara, who's non-magical at the moment tackles the baddie right from the doorway. It does lead to chaos, but it's this sort of a story. A few pages afterwards, she taps into the magical potential of her curse, taking it back into herself to really scare the pants off a villain. She won't hurt him, but neither is she going to stop the snow spirits from doing so.
- Butt-Monkey: To be fair, Bugbear deserves it.Penny: I'm so sorry! Are you hurt? I didn't mean to land on- On... oh. It's just you, Bugbear. Never mind then.
- Can't You Read the Sign?: Bathhouse safety rules explicitly forbid running, pushing, acrobatics and women. So, of course, Penny (dressed as a man), runs full pelt through it, with some pushing and jumping. They also forbid ducking and petting.
- Christmas Episode: 2012 one was an elaborate 12-page reinterpretation of Twelve Days of ChristmasSample: "Four haunting ghosts, three henchmen, two elder gods and a parrot in a pear tree!"
- Crash-Into Hello: How Penny meets The Adventurer.
- Curse Cut Short: Several times.Nathaniel: That's bo-
Penny: But that's not possible.
- Cursed with Awesome: Princess, and, after that healing magic mishap, the Adventurer. Pros - magical power extraordinaire! Cons - apparently overusing it will make you a monster. As well as a parrot, when outside of the Goblin Valley, and it seems "overusing" equals "using" (or at least, "using recklessly") in this case.
- Distressed Dude: The Adventurer, captured by monsters.
- Divided We Fall: This, dear children, is why you should not argue bitterly and loudly while hiding from mooks in the forest.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: After getting rid of Nyx, madame Mim becomes Penny's governess - officially. Unofficially she becomes her and the Adventurer's magic tutor and she's a Strict Teacher, let us tell you.
- Excuse Me While I Multitask: Penny and the Adventurer continue their discussion during the Fight Scene.Victor: Shut up! What sort of gormless ninny stops in the middle of a fight to chat? You have no idea what you're doing! And furthermore-
Penny: (thwacks him) Thanks for the advice.
- Empathic Healer: The Adventurer wasn't actually intending to take the cut upon himself, he's just untrained. When he tries for the second time, he gets all the Princess's magicalness and fancy blue clothes.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Princess, real name Ara, but she is a princess, actually.
- The Fair Folk: Snow spirits, if seemingly cute and harmless (well, Winter is cute), are nevertheless vulnerable to Cold Iron, selkie-like shapeshifters (as in, they keep the magic necessary in their cloaks).
- Fat Bastard: Aldous Brobdiggon. Doubles as Fat Idiot, or at last Fat Someone Very Unobservant (out of her disguise, it's really not a sign of smartness to mistake Penny for a boy).Brobdiggon: Hah! You can't put the wool over my eyes! (Adventurer proceeds to sack him)
- Feather Motif: Beginning with the cover page and throughout the entire comic.
- Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: Antelabbits are, basically, talking jackalopes. Also known as snow spirits. The townsfolk thinks they're rats.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Mim has spiritual glasses that allow you to, well, see spirits.
- Gorgeous Garment Generation: One of the perks of tapping into the parrot curse is a totally awesome, flowy, blue costume spontaneously replacing your drab, boring clothes.
- Healing Spring: The bathhouse pool is fed from one.
- The Hero: Penelope, who loves the thought of swashbuckling - as of Volume Two the Adventurer has taught her some fencing.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Besides being a powerful, but untrained mage, the Adventurer when turned into a parrot doesn't automatically know how to fly.
- I Can Explain: Says Penny and wisely flees.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Penny, who is considered very strange by all those who know her, wants to meet someone like her.
- The Infiltration: By the villain team, who place Elyssia Nyx in the Blake's house as governess.
- Info Dump: Delivering these in a poetic, fairy-tale-like manner is the specialty of princess Ara.
- Interactive Narrator: With a dash of lemony, from the wizard and privateer extraordinaire, Nathaniel Blackfeather! Who, despite having no physical hand in the affairs, is still able to manipulate people into doing things.
- Invisible to Normals: Grandpa Blackfeather. Snow spirits. Possibly more.
- Jumped at the Call: Penny is always keen on adventuring.Penny: Ohmygosh we have to investigate!
- Lady Drunk: Madame Mim. Abrasive personality? Check. Living in the past? Check. Strolling around town with a bottle of gin? That's her.
- Language Barrier: Princess in her human form speaks in squiggly runes of magic instead of English. Following his Power-Up, the Adventurer puts her under a translation spell.
- Lame Pun Reaction:Nathaniel: Well, she's in good spirits.
Penny: Grandpa, no.
The Adventurer: *yikes*
- Long-Lost Relative: As we learn here the Adventurer is the son of lord Whitby's Long Lost Relative, making him one, as well.
- Meaningful Rename: When The Adventurer mistakenly calls Penny Blake 'Miss Blackfeather', she refrains from correcting him, thus embracing her grandfather's name and his legacy. Later she uses the name Penny Blackfeather to introduce herself.
- Mismatched Eyes: The Adventurer has them. It appears to be a Mark of the Supernatural.
- Mistaken for Servant: The Adventurer, here. Luckily.
- Neutral No Longer: Madame Mim tries to stay out of Penny's troubles, until they inevitably become her troubles, too.
- No Name Given: We never learn the Adventurer's name.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Princess, former Pirate Parrot and The Adventurer's loyal companion. Believed by Grandpa Blackfeather to be the brains of the operation. More to her than meets the eye, though - she's an enchanted woman. Mim's sidekick Cali, a highly intelligent talking plant, and Seed Of Cali, which Cali sends with Penny for help on her dangerous journey, are also examples.
- Odd Friendship: The very magical Ara and entirely mundane Georgie quickly form a fast one which progresses to a Two Girl Romantic Friendship by the end of the chapter.
- Painting the Medium: This page has wind so strong Speech Bubbles are blown to the ground.
- Power Makeover: The Adventurer, instantaneously here . Penny approves.
- The Power of Friendship: Ara swears by it.
- Premise Ville: Vanilla, England.The Adventurer: 'Visit Vanilla', they said. 'A nice normal town', they said.
- Previously On: At the beginning of each part, we get refreshed on the plot so far by Nathaniel, with full snark on.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Mrs. Blake, nearly all the time.Mrs. Blake: (Thinking about Mr. Poggleswede, to Penny) Who knows, maybe the man of your dreams will appear... And sweep you off your feet!
(The same evening, Crash-Into Hello with The Adventurer quite literally knocks Penny of her feet.)
- Running Gag: Penny hates being startled. Seriously.
- In Volume Two, the score-keeping metafictional whatever-it-is.
- Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Penny, as the full-color chapter 3 reveals.
- Spell Book: Everyone, human or monster, wants to get their hands on it.
- Splash of Color: Most of the comic is Deliberately Monochrome. However, Princess, The Adventurer's blue eye and Cali's vines appear in color. The Goblin Valley appears in full color. So does the Adventurer upon getting magicked up.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Penny dons a disguise to investigate a gentleman's club.
- Source Music: A sort of Running Joke throughout Volume Two, part II. Turns out it's Christabel playing the piano.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:Brobdiggon: I had nothing to do with his strange disappearance.
- Targeted Human Sacrifice: "Magical blood" is required for Miss Quinn's ritual to work. Now who has magical blood that she can spare?
- Unsound Effect: *shove* and in the next panel *another shove*, as well as *dramatic key change*.
- Unreliable Narrator: The ghost of Nathaniel is the narrator, and he has a somewhat self-serving approach to the truth.Nathaniel: So this book is obviously bad news, but then Idiot Adventurer reads from it anyway. Anyone who says I persuaded him is lying. Lying.
- Rook, however, explicitly calls him "unreliable narrator" when claiming it was Grandpa Blackfeather who murdered him, not the other way around - we have no way of knowing who is lying, but as they were both pirates, it might be complicated.
- We Were Rehearsing a Play: The excuse Penny goes for when magical-ed Adventurer is beating a bad guy up.
- Whodunnit to Me?: Grandpa Blackfeather has an understandable preoccupation with his murderer, Rook. Mim wants to avenge him, leading to this exchange of comments:Nathaniel: Is all of this devotion sweet or disturbing?
Winter: I'll go for "undeserved".
- Would Hit a Girl: Don't tell us you expected Victor to be nice...A large mook: WHAT WAS THAT? YOU KNOCKED OVER A LADY!
Victor: No! Elysia is not a lady!
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Mrs. Blake, relentless shipper of Penny and Mr. Poggleswede.Mrs. Blake: If novels have taught me anything it is that couples that argue will eventually fall head over heels in love and have dozens of babies. La!
- Unfazed Everyman: Once she sees past the Masquerade, and befriends Ara, Georgiana is shaping up to be one, helped by her unflappable common sense.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Princess has blue hair in her human form.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Elyssia challenges Mim.