QUILTBAG is a Spin-Off of Penny and Aggie, written by T Campbell and with art by Jason Waltrip. The focus of the comic is on alternative sexualities, the title being an acronym used by some in Real Life for "Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay."
The comic follows Sara Kim (née Velte) and Lisa Winklemeyer, two Penny and Aggie characters who have just started college, and are roommates, at the fictional University of Millard Fillmore, loosely based on the real-life College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The comic was cancelled in October of 2012 due to Campbell being overall unsatisfied with the project and its direction. The archives remain online.
QUILTBAG contains examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Hank and Fiona. Campbell eventually confirmed on the comic's Facebook page and forum, what most readers had suspected: that Hank is gay, while the comic itself eventually confirmed that Fiona is straight.
- Art Shift: Although QUILTBAG's artist, Jason Waltrip, is the same one who drew Penny and Aggie from April 2009 through its September 2011 conclusion, Campbell had him go with a noticeably different style for the Spin-Off. The art is thicker-lined and more simple (as in Fans!, Campbell's and Waltrip's other webcomic), in contrast to the thinner-lined and realistic Penny and Aggie style established by founding artist Gisèle Lagacé. It's also in colour, unlike the majority of Penny and Aggie strips, and often uses the gradient tool and clip art.
- On top of that, there were also much more instances of the artist having to go back and retroactively edit or revise pages due to negative reaction from the fans. Mostly odd choices like "Why would Sara go out to class in a shirt tied into a knot so high it's basically a bikini?" or "Why is Sara's backpack upside down?"
- Ascended Meme: When Lisa and Sara's floor are making introductions, Lisa makes a joke about her detached head walking on her pigtails like a spider, a frequent gag in fanart.
- Blithe Spirit/Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Lisa is usually a straight example of these tropes, but in "Q", her attempts to be this for Hank, Stan, an LAZ sister, and Chrissie all backfire, leaving her discomfited and shaken... albeit briefly.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Sara shows hints of this here and here.
- Cast Full of Gay: And other components of the title acronym.
- Coming-Out Story: Iseul.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Lisa spots Chrissie wearing a trenchcoat in warm weather, ostensibly due to her severe gender dysphoria, which their recent sexual encounter had exacerbated.
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Discussed by Emma with regard to her sorority sister Uma's use of the trope.Emma: So all the moves the current [U.S. presidential] administration has made—
Uma: *Coughwhilenotfullysupportinggaymarriagecough* [...]
Emma: The coughing joke doesn't really work if you put too many words in there.
- Cut Short: The series ended much much sooner than intended, after Campbell relented that he did not consider himself suitably knowledgeable on the subjects he wanted to address, which included addiction, sexualities, gender identities, and people who are neurodivergent, along with generally being unhappy with the design and limitations of his writing gimmicks for every page.
- Discretion Shot: In the strip where Lisa and Chrissie have sex, the art style shifts abruptly in the last panel from realistic, partially-nude depictions of the two characters to an abstract expressionist representation of their skin colours, as well as strands of Lisa's hair and the colours of the bedsheets and the wall. This is done not so much for reasons of censorship as it is for dramatic purposes, in order to convey the ambiguous and problematic nature of the experience for both characters.
- Foregone Conclusion: The comic begins five years before the coda of Penny and Aggie, from which a few things can be inferred - most importantly, Lisa will be working on a vodcast professionally with one of Aggie's future girlfriends. And she'll have shaved her head. Furthermore, Sara will eventually have a girlfriend - who was deliberately not shown in Penny and Aggie.
- Foreshadowing: Iseul's attraction to women, notwithstanding her marriage to Theo and disapproval of Sara's lesbianism, was hinted at in the Penny and Aggie arc Headhunt.
- Hypocrite: Hank suspects that Lisa is depressed after reading her creative writing homework and fears she could develop into an alcoholic, despite the story not having anything to do with alcohol or substance abuse. However, he chews out Michael for suspecting Marie of being an alcoholic, after he saw her liquor bottle collection.
- Imagine Spot: Sara has an extended one, in which she tussles with the philosopher René Descartes (whom she's studying at the time) and thereby learns to start thinking for herself.
- Letter Motif: Each chapter is named for a letter in the titular acronym, and within each chapter, the first word (whether dialogue, narrative caption, sound effect or signage) in nearly every strip begins with that letter. For example, the first chapter "Q" features strips with such initial words as "Quack," "Quantum" and "Quote." Furthermore, two of the only strips in the chapter that don't begin with a "Q" nevertheless begin with the sound: "Kim" and "Cue."
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Both main characters have this problem. In Sara's case, it's her main weakness. She not only crushes on women in rapid succession, but idealizes nearly every object of her crush as Ms. Right. As for Lisa, a bad phone call with Stan led her to actively try and find what she hoped to be a guilt-free lay to get over it...leading her to an encounter with Chrissie that both individuals have been shown to have regretted almost immediately.
- Meaningful Rename: Sara's inner monologue, in the first two strips, reveals that shortly before entering college she legally changed her last name from "Velte" to "Kim." The name change in itself was due to the libellous "lesbian rape" viral video (see here for background) that has dogged her since early junior year of high school. She chose "Kim," rather than her mother Iseul's last name "Kwan," as an "extra reminder" to Iseul that she's her own person.
- My Beloved Smother: Iseul, though she genuinely loves Sara, shows elements of this trope. When she and her husband Theo first take her to campus, Iseul reminds her that she "can always come home." She also gets in a dig at Sara's lesbianism, something which Sara notes occurs once in every conversation with her.
- Nightmare Sequence: Sara has one within a single strip. As she ages instantly from childhood to mid-adolescence, a pixellated mass she calls "the Nothing"—here a previously-seen visual metaphor for the emptiness she feels inside—pursues her at the beach and enters her. The dream briefly turns erotic as her latest crush, Leah, seduces her at her current age. Then it abruptly transitions into a "Not Wearing Pants" Dream when Sara is suddenly in class, wearing "underwear" (actually the skimpy outfit Lisa pushed her to wear the night before) and everyone laughing at her. She's actually woken up when someone else's underwear falls on her bunk.
- No Bisexuals: Obviously averted with Lisa, but Leah of the LAZ sorority believes this, to the point that she passive-aggressively forces Lisa out after hearing she has a boyfriend, assuming she's just "playing."
- No Ending: The comic ends right after the second chapter with all but two plot lines left hanging.
- Odd Couple: Played with. Sara is introspective and serious, although she does have a sense of humour and something of a rebellious streak. Lisa is impulsive, hyperkinetic and silly, but can be serious when the situation calls for it.
- Panty Shot: Lisa gets quite a lot of propulsion on her skirt for simply hopping off the top bunk.
- Sad Clown / Stepford Snarker: Lisa's main weakness. She has trouble admitting to others, and to some extent even to herself, when she's miserable and masks it both by ramping up her Genki Girl tendencies and through snarking.
- A Tankard of Moose Urine: How beer tastes to first-time drinkers Sara and Lisa.
- Took a Level in Dumbass / Took a Level in Jerkass: Sara and Lisa respectively. Sara is shown crushing over girls in rapid succession setting herself up for heartbreak, something which Lisa calls her on in a less-than-nice fashion. Speaking of Lisa, she's not just rude to Sara but to Hank, Stan, Chrissie, her professor in this strip and is incredibly judgmental and harsh on others. Somewhat justified, in that both are having a hard time transitioning from high school (where such behaviors are tolerated and to be expected) to college.
- Webcomic Time: A single day within the comic may take anywhere from a few days to several weeks in real-world time.
- With Friends Like These...: Lisa towards Sara during the first chapter, an unintentionally antagonistic, hypocritical regarding sex life and mild case, though they seem to get along much better.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: Sara gives one of these to Rene Descartes during her Battle in the Center of the Mind.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: Played for Drama with Lisa's casual bedmate Chrissie, who wakes in a panic because she's a male-to-female pre-operative trans person who's sufficiently confused in her identity that she keeps having penetrative sexual intercourse and subsequently regretting it.
- Wheel o' Feet: Lisa as she dodges thunderclouds of doom.
- Younger Than They Look: Many of the people who are living on the floor were dedicated fans from the Penny and Aggie message board who won a spot in the comic. The problem is that these characters are supposed to be fresh-faced undergrads... and the message board winners were a bit older.