A: Look, 1400 BC was a really long time ago. Our historical and archaeological records of that time are dodgy at best and laughable at worst. You'll just have to take my word that this comic is the 100% true portrayal of what really happened.
Anyway, this comic is no less historically accurate than other serious illustrated documentaries like Asterix or Groo.
PepsiaPhobia (known as GastroPhobia for volumes 1-3) is a webcomic by Daisy McGuire, about the Amazonian exile and single mom Phobia; her precocious 8-year-old scamp of a daughter, Pepsia; and her recently-acquired, listless slave Klepto. Together, they face monsters, mishaps, and mildly important sci-fi elements in the land of Inconsequentia, Ancient Greece.
The comic is a series of short stories; while there is continuity, there's little in the way of overarching plot.
PepsiaPhobia provides examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: When Phobia gloats over the body of Bambikles' mother in "My Deer Mother".Phobia: No feeble foe can flee from the fantastic force of the fearless phobia's fusillade!
- Aerith and Bob: There's Phobia, Mania, Klepto,... then there's Kelly.
- Affectionate Parody:
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: In Volume 4, Pepsia gains a crush on Metro, a bully who politically vandalizes buildings. Notably he's much meaner to Pepsia when he mistook her for a boy, but has an equally as big crush on her when she states otherwise.
- Alliterative Family: Specifically for the women of the family. Most girls related to Phobia have their names begin with the letter "P", such as herself, her aunt Pneuma, Pepsia (starting from Volume 4), and Philia.
- Anachronism Stew: Banks, dining-and-dashing, Eye Beams, and XP in Ancient Greece. Also, the map of Greece◊ is actually a recolored map of Texas. At least some of this is due to time travelers messing with the timeline.
- Animated Actors: The first volume's opening sequence portrayed this series akin to a live-action television show, giving the names of the actors who portrayed each of the principal cast members. Phobia and Pepsia are played by the mother-son duo Phoebe and Gaston Jones, Klepto is played by Nick Papadopoulos, and Mania is a dog named C. Gordon Hastings. So far, this is the only opening that has done this, as even Season 3's opening lists the characters As Themselves.
- The Aristocrats: Not the best joke to tell in front of your mother.Klepto: Gastro, look what you've done to your poor mother's spanking hand!
- Art Shift: The chapter "KleptoMania", which is from Krphxyzwlps' point of view, has all characters drawn as silhouettes with occasional facial features.
- Ascended Extra: Krphxyzwlps herself started out as a Monster of the Week in the Volume 1 story "Boared to Death". She got a return appearance in "For Heifer in My Heart", more as a joke than anything else. Come Season 3, she's become an important character.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Played with and subverted in the decanonized timeline. As a teenager, Pepsia is dating Princess Starbutt the talking horse. Since she's sapient people consider it an acceptable case of Interspecies Romance, but Sophia assumes she's a normal horse at first—apparently this practice is called "communing with Zeus" in Crete.
- Bigger on the Inside: Hydro the Healer's hut. Looks like a minuscule shack on the outside small enough for Phobia to push into the sea, but contains not only a large room but also a huge aquarium.
- Bisexual Love Triangle: Quadrangle? But it's forming in the revised Volume 4. Sophia has a crush on the newly out and proud Pepsia, who had an on-again-off-again thing with Starbutt, but is also crushing hard on local hoodlum Metro.
- Book Dumb: What the example under Foreshadowing below was implied to be at the time; Philia gives off a vibe of not being all that bright, at the best of times.
- …But He Sounds Handsome: "That sexy barbarian lady escaped! Not only is she clever, she's a powerhouse!"
- Butterfly of Doom: Filby chastises Nightsorrow for this after he confesses to sleeping with Phobia not long after they ended up in ancient Greece.Filby: What is wrong with you?! We travel back in time and you step on like a billion butterflies!
Nightsorrow: I did a lot more than step on that butterfly, if you know what I mean.
- The Cameo: "For Whom The Belt Goes" features cameos from characters of friends that McGuire knew at the time. Among them are Effknocka and Fuckforce from nockFORCE and the angry girl outside of the Olive Garden.
- Cerebus Syndrome: While the tone remains light, the comic has progressively become a lot more plot-focused, especially since the start of Season 3.
- Character Focus: McGuire's intentions for the revised Volume 4 is to put more focus on Pepsia, as it touches on her adolescence and growing independence from Phobia.
- Classical Cyclops: The villainous sorcerer Nightsorrow has a miniature cyclops as his familiar (which looks like the classical cyclops, but is about the size of a human child). The sorcerer does make it grow into the traditional giant size so it can fight Pepsia—but he transforms it into a "biclops" in the process, which has twice as many eyes and is therefore twice as dangerous. The biclops is still distinct from a regular giant because its eyes are arranged vertically, rather than horizontally.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: When Phobia tries to free Klepto, the scroll for Form Γ-κβ´ is much lighter than the other scrolls. Lampshaded in the original Alt Text before the comics were consolidated. (In this case, it was obviously done on purpose to invoke the animated trope.)
- Deliberately Monochrome: One color per chapter.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: On the topic of slavery. Phobia and Pepsia own a slave named Klepto, but later try setting him free. This is also Played for Laughs when Helen knows that there's a problem with Klepto getting repossessed by the government, but doesn't know what, thinking the worst part of it is having to do your own laundry for a month.
- Description Cut: While Phobia is busy showing off her fancy new skull belt, Philia rolls her eyes, complaining that no one cares that much about it. Cue Nightsorrow salvitating over the belt, knowing that it's made of the one material guaranteed to get him back to the 21st century.
- Dire Beast: The flashback of Phobia and Lord Nightsorrow's first meeting involves a dire-frog (looking rather like a frog-man).
- Disproportionate Retribution: After Helen offends Phobia and Klepto, he threatens to spit in any pizza she orders from them. She responds by siccing her health inspector of a husband on Klepto and Phobia's restaurant, causing them significant problems.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: Phobia and Klepto get into a heated cook-off in "The Heat Is On!", but while the latter can make actual food and invented an entire dish just for the competition, the former made a bowl of something that could barely be called food. Everything is setting up for her loss, but the judges decide she wins the competition—because Klepto is just a slave, so technically his accomplishments are his master's.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Volume 1 went through a lot of growing pains. The season mandatory opening sequence doesn't appear until six "episodes" in, Phobia and Pepsia's designs were completely different, and there's absolutely no sci-fi hints present.
- Eternal Recurrence: The universe resets back to the beginning once every so often. Each iteration mostly repeats the previous iteration's events, but the iterations have gradually changed over time. Time Travel mostly involves traveling to a different point in time of a future iteration. The Time Police try to keep the iterations stable, but there have been slips. Two of them have made Phobia Immune to Fate.
- Eye Scream: Phobia vanquishes Cosmo's "Biclops" form by slashing both his eyes with her sword.
- Face Palm:
- Fan Disservice: Averted in Chapter 2:Originally I planned to draw this scene with Pepsia wearing a Loincloth, but I decided to spare everyone that sight.
- Feghoot: "For Heifer in My Heart" follows reincarnations of Phobia and Pepsia in the Wild West. The pair later discover that Krphxyzwlps has reincarnated and followed them to the United States, but no one can understand her. When Pepsia prompts Phobia for their foe's Motive Rant, she shrugs, saying "it's all greek to me!".
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Nightsorrow is an atheist, in a world where both magic and gods are real. While he himself has admittedly never had any experience with the gods, that doesn't stop Pepsia and Phobia from treating his beliefs as silly superstitions.
- Flat "What": Phobia gives one when Philia tells her that she is Klepto and Phobia's daughter from the future.
- Foot Popping: Phobia while kissing Hydro in the "four kinds of love" panel.
- Foreshadowing:Phobia: Philia, how do you stay so young-looking?
Philia: Well, GEE, maybe it's because I'm 22!
Phobia: Eight years ago, you told me you were 20...?
Philia: Then I'm 28, SHEESH! Why is this so HARD for you?!
- Gasp!: Rather frequent, and usually quite exaggerated. For example, a threefer when the Mockinbirds' source of power gets destroyed.
- Generic Graffiti: Only visible in a close-up of a panel provided by the artist. Is actually more historically accurate than it seems—ignoring the Simpsons reference.
- Ghostly Goals: Subverted: when Phobia accomplishes Pneuma's "goals", she disappears to go haunt Phobia's brother.
- Green Rocks: What Chronologium amounts to. Beyond allowing time travel, eating a block of the stuff 10 years ago gave Krphxyzwlps her shapeshifting power.
- Hartman Hips: Phobia. Don't mock the size of her legs, though...
- Hash House Lingo:Phobia: Klepto, 3 harpy necks, release the Kraken and wreck'em!
Klepto: I don't know what that means!
- He Who Fights Monsters: Invoked — "To kill a monster, you must become a monster."
- Honest Axe: Referenced when Mim retrieves Phobia's sword from the lake.
- Human Sacrifice: Pepsia narrowly escape from this at the paws of the cultist bears.
- Hypnotic Eyes: Hydro, the Healer, has the ability to charm those who look into his eyes, though it doesn't work on everyone.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Philia is good for this:Philia: DON'T YELL OR YOU'LL CAUSE A CAVE-IN!!
- In the "Ready, Willing, and a Bull" story, Phobia and Pepsia try to get to Klepto to steal from the Minotaur in an attempt to distract it after learning he's a pretty good thief and this conversation occurs:
- Philia is good for this:
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Inverted; it ends up saving Phobia's life.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Phobia angrily states "I'm a warrior, not a scholar!" when called on the fact that she's illiterate.
- Immune to Fate: In an older timeline, Phobia was eaten by a frog monster. Time travelers proceeded to grab and raise her daughter, and her daughter couldn't resist making edits to the timeline, such as killing said frog when it was still a tadpole. Additionally, Nightsorrow, another time traveler, sired another child with her. As a result, Phobia's fate was thrown off course, and a pair of gods make plans to use her against Zeus's plans for Herakles, which would otherwise be guaranteed to succeed (at least, in the no-longer-canonical timeline).
- Infinite Canvas: Commented on and averted in a strip where Phobia falls down a hole.
- Interspecies Romance:
- Klepto is in a relationship with Krphxyzwlps/Mania. She is capable of Voluntary Shapeshifting, and usually uses a human female form, but in her natural form, she is a male centipoidal netherbeast, an exotic subspecies of dragon.
- In the old canon, Pepsia forms a relationship with Princess Starbutt, a magical talking horse.
- Phobia and Mania end up getting together after both of them break up with klepto sequentially.
- Jerkass Gods: This is loosely based on Greek Mythology after all, so the decanonised volume which heavily featured them played into it.
- Zeus drives Herakles mad and makes him slaughter his family, seemingly for fun.
- Ares, being the War God, naturally enjoys creating wars.
- Kick the Dog: Hydro the Healer does this by literally kicking Mina the dog.
- Lampshade Hanging: "Check it out, those guys are fortuitously discussing subject matter pertinent to our current task."
- Love Makes You Evil:
- Most of Bambikins' motivation is his seething hatred for Phobia and his obsession with getting revenge, but a few key scenes show that his love for Kelly almost superficially contributes to it too. Kelly always promises that she'll get into a relationship with him if he completes his revenge. The end of the comic reveals that she has done this with hundreds of other bucks.
- Lower-Deck Episode: The appropriately-named chapter "Not Everything's About Phobia".
- Luke, You Are My Father: Phobia, Philia is your daughter.
- Mama Bear: Seen toward the end of the Nightsorrow arc.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Phobia is an aggressive Action Girl hunter who loves meat so much she considers any food without it to be utter crap. Klepto is a Non-Action Guy and an experienced cook whose meals usually don't contain much meat. When they're out drinking, she and Philia make fun of him for choosing a drink as girly as Beijing Peach.
- Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves: Accentuated in the "How to draw GastroPhobia" filler strip. Notably, when Pepsia transitions,she changes her wardrobe to make her look slightly curvier and rounder than she was when she was her short, stocky, masculine presenting self in the previous volumes.
- Meaningful Name:
- The thieving slave is named Klepto.
- The ghost Pneuma's name means "spirit" in Greek.
- The healer Hydro keeps a huge aquarium in his shack and wanted to turn Phobia into a mermaid for some reason.
- Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: She forms a romantic relationship with Klepto, but breaks up with him because he laughed at her over a probably exaggerated story involving Phobia's apparent mother.
- Morphic Resonance: The Cloud Cuckoo Land residents can change from human to bird, but all their human disguises feature a prominent pointy beak-like nose. This also clues the reader on Metro being a bird person before its casual reveal in the Date Comics.
- Never My Fault: Played for laughs. Nightsorrow always blames Phobia for anything that goes wrong and involves her even if it was entirely his fault, saying that she betrayed him.
- Never Trust a Trailer: What the Volume 4 previews end up being, due to the revision. Most of it would be accurate to the scrapped 2015-16 chapters, but only a few plot points remain the same at current.
- "Not So Different" Remark: Parodied; Pneuma tries to do this, but can't think of any ways that she and Phobia are alike.
- Oh, My Gods!: The names of Greek gods are often said in vain. Hell, even the trope name is said in one strip.
- Old Friend, New Gender: How Pepsia reintroduces herself to Sophia at the end of "Pepsia". Sophia isn't shocked or confused—rather, she very much likes the new her.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The Mockingbird princess' Southern US accent comes and goes.
- Orwellian Retcon: Parts of Chapter 9 were redone because the author was unsatisfied with them. This included renaming the substance that allows time travel from "Samsonite" to "Chronologium".
- Other Me Annoys Me: When Philia and Philia from an alternate timeline (started by Lord Nightsorrow's manipulation) meet each other, they immediately hit off pretty well.Philia: WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME EARLIER AND SAVE ME SOME STRESS YOU STUPID BITCH?
Philia-from-the-Future: (thoughts) Gods I hate myself.
- Our Gods Are Different:
- There are normal gods, which include the Greek and Mayan pantheons, as well as at least one netherbeast god.
- There is an older class of deities called the Titans.
- The Old Ones are the most powerful beings known, to which even the gods pale in comparison. Their motives are beyond the understanding of lesser beings and they are believed to originate from a previous iteration of the universe.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Krphxyzwlps, a giant sapient centipede with the ability to shapeshift into anything with the same body mass, including several separate creatures.
- Painting the Medium: For two pages in "For Whom the Belt Goes", the panels are suddenly animated, with Pepsia and Phobia in a walk loop and the wind even blowing. While out of universe it was explained as a gimmick, in-universe it is the result of black magic (since even they think it's weird that they're moving but aren't making any progress towards Klepto or Philia).
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Phobia to Mania, while covering her with a tablecloth, after the later shapeshifted from a deer to a naked human.
- Precision F-Strike: Implied by a "censored" bubble.
- Public Domain Character: Phobia is an Amazon (the Greek myth version), with storylines being based off Greek Mythology stories. Her brother Alcides is implied to be Hercules, as Alcides was Hercules' birth name. The non-canon volume 4 seemed geared to put Alcides on the path to finally becoming the mythological Hercules, but it would be up to Athena and Ares to get Phobia to stop one of his trials to prevent him from becoming immortal.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Volume 4's Time Skip to five years later reflects the time between the end of Volume 3 (which ended in 2015) and the start of the revised Volume 4 (beginning in 2020). Pepsia's questioning of her gender identity and realizing she's a trans girl also reflects McGuire officially coming out during that time.
- Reused Character Design: Amusingly, the Sphinx is apparently played by an "actress", namely Saphire from Princess Knight.
- Riddle of the Sphinx: Parodied, multiple times. The sphinx can't very well eat travelers if they all know the answer to her one riddle.
- Riddling Sphinx: A sphinx is repeatedly humiliated because she only knows the one riddle, and everyone, even the little kid, knows the answer already.
- Sdrawkcab Name: The god of the cultist bears is "Tolaerac".
- Security Cling: Though she'd probably deny it, Phobia did jump into Klepto's arms when startled by Princess Mim metamorphosing.
- Self-Serving Memory: Nightsorrow remembers meeting Phobia by saving her from a frog monster, while she says she's the one who saved him.
- Sequel Hook: "Ready, Waiting, and a Bull" ends with the Minotaur stabbed and subdued, but still alive. Not wanting to take any chances, the Useless King sends him to Crete, where he lives out the rest of his days chained to the center of a sprawling maze...
- Sequel Series: McGuire considers GastroPhobia, the series before it was rebranded in 2020, to end with Volume 3. PepsiaPhobia is the sequel comic taking place five years later. One Volume 4 comic, "Maraud a Trois", was intended to give the first series some extra closure.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Phobia and Klepto insist they aren't a couple in "Puppy Dog Tale". While blushing.
- Ship Tease: Phobia and Klepto get a subtle one in "Ready, Willing, and a Bull" when Klepto compliments Phobia's cowardly plan and results in a Held Gaze. It's telling that they always seem to hit it off in the AU stories. Eventually, the comic stops teasing and says outright that they've been dating for months and that's why Phobia wants to set him free.
- In The Rant, McGuire explains that the "GAH-ROO!" cry that all monsters have came from the Inspector Gadget episode "Tyrannosaurus Gadget".
- Some character designs — female ones more often — resemble those of Scott Pilgrim quite a bit.
- Filby is introduced wearing a Lum T-shirt in modern day Manhattan.
- The artwork contains numerous nods to Osamu Tezuka. Trivia's character design resembles Sapphire, Ornitho is Duke Red, the Bambikles story has several panel layouts that reference the original Kimba the White Lion manga and the Dine & Dash story has a gang of bank robbers who combine into a giant centipede, similar to Gadem from Astro Boy.
- Eeyore takes a beating from a minotaur.
- In The Western AU "For Heifer in my Heart", Bluto makes a cameo in the saloon, followed a few pages later by the cow from Steamboat Willie.
- The owl in the Bambikles arc looks like Bubo from the original Clash of the Titans, and is named Archimedes after the owl in Disney's The Sword in the Stone.
- Katie Beaton's Fat Pony makes a cameo in the background of "Welcome to the Neigh-borhood".
- Nightsorrow's "Wizard's Tower" is Gargamel's house from The Smurfs.
- "Horsefield" parodies the Garfield strips.
- Hasbro's toylines are relevant one way or another:
- The "Unbearable" storyline puts up cultist bears against talking ponies.
- In "Welcome to the Neigh-borhood, the Pegasus toy Pepsia carries with her is supposed to be modelled after Firefly from My Little Pony's G1 series.
- A more specific shout-out to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with Pepsia writing a letter to "Dear Princess Starbutt".
- In a lot of the short, pun-based comics, the pun-naming style and flip-take pattern are a shout-out to Archie Comics (confirmed in the Alt Text).
- In the 2020 Christmas special, Pepsia and Phobia are "Shelf Elves" a la The Elf on the Shelf who monitor kids for Santa. It's a bit of a Take That! as well, since Phobia calls her job being a "glorified nanny cam" and the outfits are based off of Blythe dolls instead of the Elves on Shelves (because, in the author's words, the latter just look blander).
- The Halloween special has Phobia and Krphxyzwlps encounter a rock face with a suspiciously human-shaped hole cut into it, with Krphxyzwlps even commenting that she felt like the hole was "made for her". It's not since it'd have to look like her true form, but points for trying.
- The Volume titles usually end up as a reference to another piece of media:
- Shown Their Work: Despite the comic being a massive Anachronism Stew, the artist clearly knows a lot about Ancient Greece.
- An example is the filler strip "Trivial Trivia!", which explains the philosophical concept of the four types of love.
- In the Season 2 intro, Phobia is told by Hyppolyta to give baby Pepsia to the Gargareans if not to the father. The Gargareans were a male tribe in Greek mythology that had worked out a deal with the Amazonians to keep all the male babies, while the Amazonians raised their female babies in return.
- Slipped the Ropes: Well, the handcuffs: Phobia in the Mockinbirds dungeon.
- Speech-Bubbles Interruption: Pepsia to Phobia:Phobia: A warrior does not recite po—
Pepsia: We accept!
- Splash of Color: The page where Phobia meets again with her brother Alcides is in black and white, save for the blood covering Alcides/Herakles.
- Spoiler Opening: Appropriately, the "Opening Credits" for both Season 1 and Season 3 show Mania (both the dog and the monster) a few episodes early.
- Staging an Intervention: The aptly titled "Pepsia's Intervention" concerns all of the girl's loved ones gathering together to stop her from her latest obsession...addressing the fourth wall.
- Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: "None shall pass, for this bridge leads to the Magical Land of the Pretty Ponies."
- Take Off Your Clothes: Filby asks Phobia to take off her belt. She doesn't take it well.
- Take That!:
- During Pepsia's intervention, Sophia asks if the former wants to be a Tiny Toon Adventures character. When asked why, it's because her Fourth-Wall Observer antics are getting just as heavy handed as that of the other cartoon.
- Phobia is not fond of the Elf on the Shelf, given she thinks they're "glorified nanny cams" and wear gaudy outfits.
- Tell Me About My Father: Parodied, with Phobia telling Pepsia she was seduced by Zeus in the form of an animal, but the specific animal changes every time she tells the story. The "Handsome Giraffe" probably being the highlight. Later, she claims that she doesn't know who Pepsia's father is... and even later, she accidentally lets it slip that she actually does know. It's Lord Nightsorrow. Pepsia's not happy to find out she's been lied to all these years.
- Theme Naming: Many of the names come from prefixes/suffixes of Greek origin.
- Title Drop: Happens twice in "Not Everything's About Phobia", with Lampshades in the Alt Text.
- Title Sequence: You heard right. There are title sequences for a webcomic. One for every season.Apparently, I've worn out my stay
But I don't care what other people say
Everything's gonna be a-okay!
It's a brand new day, and there are monsters to slay
So get outta my way, or you're gonna pay!
Do whatever you may, but there ain't no time to play
Everything's gonna be a-okay!
When the skies are grey
- The scrapped Volume 4 opening changes this to be a little less triumphant, but still just as confident:
And you've been led astray,
Please try not to dismay...
—Jump into the fray!
If you never delay and you don't do things halfway,
Everything's gonna be a-okay!
- Tranquil Fury:Phobia: (smiling) And if you ever endanger my son again, I'll have to cut out one of your kidneys and force-feed it to you.
- Translation Convention: In "Not Everything's About Phobia", the cuckoos' conversation has a footnote mentioning that it's translated from common Cuckoo, and provides that page's image. Lampshaded when the scene switches to the humans' perspective, who just hear "cuckoo" over and over again.
- Undead Author: Played gleefully straight in "The Hole Story".
- Unreliable Narrator: Phobia has a tendency to tell tall tales about herself.
- Unsound Effect: "Make-out sounds!"
- Very Special Episode: Parodied in a filler strip, which covers a marijuana PSA. Notably, they don't actually condemn smoking marijuana overall, they simply say not to let minors start smoking it as it could affect their development.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting:
- Krphxyzwlps can shapeshift into several separate creatures as long as they add up to her body mass.
- The Cuckoos can also humanshift as long as they have a magical jewel empowering them.
- Waxing Lyrical: With the exception of Volume 1, every "season" opens up with one or more of the cast members speaking the first three lines of "Everything's Gonna Be A-Okay" before it segues into the proper opening sequence. They're often done in plot-relevant scenes.
- Whole-Plot Reference: The events of Volume 1 are very loosely based on the 12 Labors of Hercules, with "Ready, Willing and a Bull" even setting up one of Herc's future trials at the end. Fittingly, the volume is retroactively referred to as The Twelve Trials of GastroPhobia.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Sophia's reaction to learning Princess Starbutt's name is to say her parents ought to be arrested.
- Writing for the Trade: The cartoonist admitted as such.