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Webcomic / Rice Boy

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"I'm just Rice Boy. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. All I can do is grow plants and watch sunsets and listen to stories."

Rice Boy is a surreal fantasy comic by Evan Dahm. It began April 1, 2006, and finished May 14, 2008. It was the first comic set in Overside. The comic is available as a webcomic, in softcover, and in hardcover.

The One Electronic is a mechanical man on a Mission from God: he is searching for the Fulfiller of the Prophecy of Ridrom, and he will not die as long as he continues searching. Unfortunately, T-O-E has been searching for 3,000 years, and every candidate for the position of Fulfiller has been a spectacular failure. When his latest candidate dies, T-O-E once again finds a replacement: the humble little pawn-shaped Rice Boy.

The only problem is Rice Boy says he can't do it.

T-O-E grows despondent and begins doubting his mission, while, unknown to him, a number of events are set in motion: Spatch II, the son of the last candidate, convinced that he himself is the Fulfiller, prepares to kill the new candidate and to wage war. To this end, he begins amassing an army, and he hires the Bounty Hunter Golgo to shadow T-O-E.

Meanwhile, Rice Boy decides he's a little bit curious about this Prophecy, so he sets off to learn more...

What ensues is a classical hero's journey story with many twists, played by a cast of strange creatures and set against the background of a surreal land.

After the conclusion of Rice Boy, Dahm began other webcomic series based in the same world. Order of Tales, which is now completed, is a loosely-connected prequel to Rice Boy. The third and current webcomic set in Overside is Vattu.

The world of Overside has a wiki.

Not to be confused with the straw teenage driver of a Rice Burner.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Art Evolution: Dahm improved his brush-drawn linework massively while making the comic. Compare T-O-E leaving Suntown with Rice Boy leaving Suntown, 434 pages later.
  • Ancient Keeper: The library of the Kingdom of Seen has an elderly librarian who advises Rice Boy on where to go from there.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The comic has one page of gratuitous brother-sister incest, in a story that's otherwise completely free of sex and innuendo.
  • Badass Adorable: Admit it, Rice Boy's like Frodo, sweet-natured, cute, huggable and brave. Also Gerund, the most bumbling and innocent Horned in the setting.
  • Badass Longcoat: T-O-E always wears longcoats (except for that duel, where The Coats Are Off and he gets a Shirtless Scene) and he has been walking the Overside for centuries, playing an important role in its history.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Played with. Over the years hundreds of people were declared to be the fulfiller until they finally found the right one. In the end, both T-O-E and Rice Boy met the requirements to be Fulfiller, but T-O-E is the one who dies first.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Kingdom of Seen, well hidden beneath the ground, is a gateway between Overside and Underside, so it can be considered a double example. Also, a Hidden Elf Village - if you get in there, they might never let you out.
  • Big Eater: Gerund can't stop himself from eating all the supplies Rice Boy brought with him for his journey. He's frequently seen eating (even in saddest moments) or seeking food.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Evan Dahm's constructed language of Seen-Script is present in places all over the Overworld, and gives those who can read it extra little insights into the world.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The 'vaguely-defined' prophecy is fulfilled and Spatch is defeated. But T-O-E is stabbed by Golgo for the last time while trying to save Rice Boy. Rice Boy and Gerund return to Rice Boy's home and will get to live Happily Ever After, but both are deeply shaken by everything that's happened.
  • The Blank: Technically, T-O-E. He has a flat screen instead of face (and somehow still drinks and smokes). The screen does show images, though, and they only seem random.
  • Bounty Hunter: Golgo, ever since losing his immortality, has to make a living somehow. During the story, though, he's employed by Spatch II to hunt T-O-E specifically. Order of Tales suggests he's been wandering around, killing people, for quite a while now.
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • As seen here.
    • Although, it should be remembered that Golgo (aka Angel-Eye) used to be a searcher like T.O.E and Calabash. He's been around thousands of years, so she may not be his biological sister.
  • The Chooser of the One: The Searchers are supposed to find (or name) the fullfiller of the prophecy of Ridrom. The White Beast chooses the prophecy's guardians.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: The comic raises many more questions than it answers.
  • Death Seeker: It turns out T-O-E is one of these, suffering a bout of Who Wants to Live Forever?.
  • Dialogue Reversal: When Rice Boy is trying to find Parod's house in Scortch, he meets a mysterious masked person whom he asks:
    "Are you following me?"
    "No. I am going where you are going."
    "I see. Where will I go next?"
    • The mysterious person responds he'll go to Scortch, which Rice Boy does and passes out from the desert heat. Then he's rescued and meets the mysterious person again. Rice Boy follows the person and the questioning is reversed, only this time Rice Boy responds that he's going to Parod's house - and is led right there.
  • Disney Villain Death: Spatch and Golgo are hurled off the Iron Tower by a blast of energy, presumably sending them to their deaths.
  • Dramatic Irony: In Memoar, the garden of memories, T-O-E purposefully induces in himself a flashback to the White Beast snatching his little brother (just like it snatched Gerund's brother), which seems to be a very traumatic memory. This is after the reader has learned that the White Beast does not harm those it takes, bringing them to the current heir of Ridrom - guardian of the very prophecy T-O-E is working to fulfill - as apprentices.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Two statues in the Library of Seen resemble Koark and Gerráh, major characters from the prequel Order of Tales.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Father Dimmon of the Lonely Land, whose hands are nailed to the ground. Smaller dimmons bring him travellers who have drunk the water and became cursed, so he can eat them.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The mercenary Golgo wears an eyepatch whenever he sends his cybernetic eyeball out to spy. Eventually that eye gets damaged beyond repair, so Golgo wears that eyepatch permanently.
  • Eye Spy: Golgo has a cybernetic eye which can detach and fly around to spy on others. It can't transmit what it sees; instead it records video to play back to Golgo when it returns.
  • The Faceless: The White Formless, who can only speak by cutting off their heads.
  • Fantastic Drug: The Black Drink or Black Spirit. The nice (?) thing about it is that it makes you immortal (and, apparently, tastes good), but is horribly addictive. As you Descent into Addiction, you will be more and more ruthless, amoral and generally evil.
  • Flat "What": Rice Boy does this here. And here.
  • Flat World: It resembles a giant coin with Overside and Underside. This story takes place mostly in the former.
  • Foil: Calabash and T-O-E, to an extent. They have radically different personalities and outlooks, but are still friends and work towards a common goal.
  • A God Am I: When T-O-E and Calabash name Spatch as the Fulfiller, Spatch gets it into his head that he's divine and therefore infallible. He uses this to justify his self-aggrandizing tyranny, and transforms Sunk into a theocratic empire. And he convinces the kingdom that his son, Spatch II, is equally divine—ensuring his fundamentalist madness continues after his death.
  • God Before Dogma: T-O-E's theological position.
  • Good All Along: The Bleach Beast, another The Chooser of the One, only for a different duty - it doesn't eat people, as Gerund's folk believes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Parod poses as Rice Boy to buy him time to escape the frog-men who came to kill our small hero.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • T-O-E, Calabash, and Golgo, all of them being immortal travelers who appear in legends and history books of various cultures.
    • In a side story of their past, it mentions T-O-E becoming the king of a civilization while Calabash waited years for his return in tundra, right when ANOTHER hero of his own story was there.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Frog-men use giant lizards, and Maquín has a horse-like creature that's able to contract its entire body into its cubical head.
  • Immortality Immorality: Not all immortal characters are immoral, but this is the effect that the Black Spirit has on people. Averted with Calabash and T-O-E, who still desperately cling to a failing moral compass.
  • Invisible Anatomy: Rice Boy picks flowers and makes tea. Somehow. Telekinesis?
  • Lame Comeback:
    Rice Boy: You aren't very helpful, Bor.
    Bor the Very Large: Uh-huh, well — you aren't very large.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: Races described or at least pictured include the Blackbirds, Dimmons, Fin-Folk, Fluters, Frog-Men, Gaundts, Gorrkans, Hornčds, Ice-Striders, Machine Men, people of Seen, people of Taragi, Rhed, Sahtans, Shade-Kin, Sirpah, Trills, War-Men, and White Formless.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Yureg, the Prince of Satuar. His bumbling absentmindedness has to be seen to be believed. He also convinces himself that Rice Boy is a powerful wizard. His Beleaguered Assistant advises Rice Boy to get away as fast as possible while the prince isn't looking.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Machine Men. They can smoke, they grow as they age, and one of them nearly dies of poisoning. Order of Tales includes a story about them evolving into their metal form from rock people.
  • Messianic Archetype: The Fulfiller. According to Ridrom's prophecy, this person will bring the Avatar of Mind back to the world, restoring the balance—but they must die in the process.
  • Mission from God: T-O-E and Calabash are following the orders of the Avatar of Time. If they didn't, their immortality would be lost. Golgo, who defected, gets around the problem by using the Black Drink.
  • Mouse World: The Trill are tiny - several characters keep colonies of them in glass flasks. Populous colonies with proper economy, far as we can tell.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Calabash and T-O-E drink vodka and whiskey as if it were water. Cal says it's over 3000 years of building tolerance.
  • Non-Human Head: T-O-E is a humanoid robot with a circular screen for a head; it tends to show scenes from films and cartoons from the 1920s to the 1940s.
  • Physical God: The three Avatars, maybe. T-O-E argues that while his employer is very powerful, it is no God.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Rice Boy spends most of his quest just doing what other people ask him to do, in many cases literally falling or bouncing to his next quest objective like a real pinball. Word of God confirms that this was intentional:
    Evan Dahm: That’s sort of a categorical issue in this type of story, writ a little larger: the stereotypical hero of a hero’s journey is calculatedly boring and neutral, in a way that clashes with modern notions of storytelling and character development. Rice Boy is basically nothing but that neutrality extended as far as possible.
  • Planet of Hats: All the Trill wear hats that represent their jobs (juice-maker has a bottle, a farmer - pitchfork and so on). They're very confused by the Rice Boy wearing no hat at all.
  • Poisoned Weapons: T-O-E's knife, which is coated with a poison powerful enough even to kill immortals. Golgo winds up snatching it during their fight and stabbing T-O-E with it. T-O-E later admits that he'd been intending to end his own life with that knife for some time.
  • Prophecy Twist: T-O-E fulfilled the prophecy in his own way due to its vague wording. Thus he restores the third Avater after Golgo stabs him on the Iron Tower.
  • Purpose-Driven Immortality: The Searchers will not die until they fulfill or abandon their role. Golgo has abandoned it, but copes by using the Black Drink.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Gortch, the late father of King Spatch. His leadership strengthened ties between the kingdom of Sunk and all its neighbors, turning his kingdom into a prosperous, cosmopolitan one.
  • Really 700 Years Old: In one of the first scenes, Suzy calls Calabash "a young man". He just laughs and says he's older than he looks. Later we learn he's over 3000, thanks to the Purpose-Driven Immortality.
  • Red Right Hand: Golgo has a robotic eye, which he can send on its own to spy for him.
  • Refusal of the Call: Rice Boy doubts that he's the Fulfiller, initially.
  • The Reveal: T-O-E and Calabash's employer, who turns out to be the Avatar of Time.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Calabash is killed by their employer for stopping his search. It fuels T-O-E's depression, who nevertheless continues the quest.
  • Scenery Porn: Sometimes it seems like the comic is nothing but an excuse to draw more weird landscapes.
  • Shock and Awe: T-O-E can make sparks with his fingers, which he uses in combat and to light fires. And only him (and maybe his brothers) - no other Machine Men have this power.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Unintentional, at that. Dahm asked his friends what he should name the bounty hunter; they suggested Golgo, after the protagonist of Golgo 13, and Dahm used it, only learning of the reference later.
    • Angel-Eye saying "one name is as good as another."
    • T-O-E's screen-face tends to show old frames from 1920s-40s cartoons and movies... or Roast Beef.
  • Smoking Is Cool: T-O-E is a chain-smoking robot. Don't ask how it works, but it looks cool.
  • Starfish Language: The language of Ridrom's prophecy, which took even him years to understand somewhat. It's the divine speech of the three Avatars.
  • Stealth Pun: Rise, boy.
  • Suicide by Cop: Calabash despairs of the search for the Fulfiller and just quits searching—knowing full well that his employer will kill him for that.
  • Supporting Leader: T-O-E regards himself as The Chooser of the One, a mentor and helper in general to the real hero, the Fulfiller. Or so he thinks.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: The people of Whetton were utterly dependent on the Tree of Thought. When it died, they attacked Suntown for its tree.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Rice Boy after he learns the Trill language. He also acts much more self-assured (or desperate).
  • Twist Ending: T-O-E was the Fulfiller.
  • TV Head Robot: T-O-E. His head shows not-so-random images.
  • Villain Team-Up: In the finale Spatch and Golgo unite with the Dimmons to kill Rice Boy and his friends.
  • White Gloves: T-O-E wears them. Here, they're straight-up Mickey Mouse gloves; Order of Tales would depict them as more realistic leather gloves.
  • Words Can Break My Bones: A word uttered in the Trill language can literally do this, as well as change reality in general.
  • World Tree: Daughter, the oldest and strongest tree in the Heart of the Dorlish Wood, which holds the Tree Keeper's most valuable possession - the handwritten scroll of Ridrom's prophecy.