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Webcomic / Sfeer Theory

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"Sfeer Theory" is the biography of a semi-immortal wizard named Balzac whose duty is to uphold and guard an empire, by way of a magical version of Atlas. The Uitspan Era addresses the beginning of his livelihood, and the Uitspan Age addresses the possible end of it.
— Premise on the About page

Sfeer Theory is a fantasy/ steampunk webcomic written by Muun (Alex Singer) with art by Chira (Jayd Aït-Kaci) which updates once a week. The story is split into two storylines, Uitspan Era and Uitspan Age, with only Era updating as of this writing. Age was considered the original story with Era as a prequel, but fate conspired to have Era be created first.

Uitspan Era focuses on Luca Valentino, a Sevallese immigrant of modest birth living in the Warassa Empire. He aspires to study sfeer theory, but the closest he can get to studying at the prestigious Uitspan University is to be employed there as a lowly lab technician. He works there unnoticed for two years until Tomias (a.k.a. Balzac), one of the cyclists at the school, walks in on him performing a complex spell to clean up a wrecked lab. Hilarity Ensues.

The main character of Uitspan Age, as well as the character who started the comic, is Jahn van Heyden. He's the guy you see in the title bars who is not Luca. His story will take place about four hundred years after Era. As a young boy, he and his two younger brothers, all powerful cyclists, are taken in and mentored by the semi-immortal wizard known only as Balzac.

The main character of Sfeer Theory as a whole is technically Tomias/ Balzac, but his story is told through the eyes of Luca and Jahn in Era and Age respectively.

At heart, Sfeer Theory seems to be shaping up into a politically-charged war story, only with magic. The comic is still in its early stages, but since Muun and Chira did a lot of their brainstorming in a LiveJournal community, some readers know a lot more about the characters and setting than can be found in the comic thus far, though information on the plot itself has remained more guarded.

Oh, and the working title for the story was "Gay Wizards," with some fans now calling it "Gay Theory." The initial idea was an excuse for Porn Without Plot yaoi, but then the plot got interesting and became the central focus. There will definitely be male/ male romance in the story, but since there isn't any posted warnings of it, probably no on-screen sex. Plus several straight and lesbian pairings as well.

Also, a separate section for examples from Sfeer Theory as a whole should be made, but since we won't really know what's exclusive to Era until Age comes out, the current format for this page is just split between Era and Age. If you know better, feel free to contribute.

An Important Note: A lot of info that we have on the series is brainstorming meta, which is subject to change. If something appears in the comic that contradicts the meta, the comic wins out. Please don't clog the canon tropes with What Could Have Been if this happens. (Add a What Could Have Been tab, or failing that, just list it as a trope and keep the debunked meta there, instead of spreading it all over the page.)

Uitspan Era contains examples of:

  • Animesque: Chira says her art was inspired by both anime and Disney, with some French comic influences thrown in.
  • Author Appeal: Part of the reason the comic is a Cast of Snowflakes. The designs are entirely self-indulgent to the authors. Chira especially is known for finding "ugly" features in a person genuinely attractive (especially large and odd shaped noses), and she works closely with Muun to design them so we can only assume the comic's writer thinks the same.
    • Luca is an aversion of this, as Chira has admitted to finding drawing beautiful characters boring and difficult. However, she has noted that she is quite proud of how Luca turned out because of the challenge.
  • Arranged Marriage: Luca and his wife Carmen. Neither of them like each other very much.
  • The Beard: Luca has a wife and son. Considering the nature of the time period he's living in, this is pretty much expected no matter what his preferences are. Also, it was his wife's family's connections that got him the job at Uitspan, so that may have something to do with why he married her too.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: One can assume that Luca, the repressed main character, will turn out to be this.
    • Some of the bonus art for the vote incentives seems to support this.
      • The comic itself already supports this, as Luca is unquestionably resentful and not as okay with his position in life as he says he is. Who isn't waiting for him to crack?
      • Confirmed by Luca's epic Badass Boast after he hit his Rage Breaking Point.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Empire of Warassa has a Dutch naming scheme, and Italian is the official language of Sevallia.
  • Bifauxnen: The character designs for Montmartre have her appear to be this. In fact when the designs were initially posted, Chira avoided the use of gendered pronouns.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Magic is called sfeer theory, wizards are called cyclists.
  • The Cameo: Chira is good friends with Jen Doyle of Knights Errant, as such they frequently trade character appearances in their respective comics or crossover fanart. Doyle has drawn art of Kadeen as a Warran Soldier romancing Luca, as well as Neruda (the woman from Chapter 1 of ST) appearing in K-E for the privilege of topping the hell out of Oswald. In Sfeer Theory, Chira has drawn K-E's Will happily trolling in a mob, and Gawin being the subject of a gruesome riot death, which would make the latter a sort of Death by Cameo.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Check it out here.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Notably averted, seeing as the how the initial inspiration for this idea was porneriffic yaoi scenario. The main cast has examples of both male and female characters, some straight, some gay, some bi, and even some that are asexual. Also, given Chira's preference for drawing "ugly" characters, the guys that are gay together won't be pretty and girly (with the notable exception of Luca).
  • Deconstruction: The authors have freely admitted everything and everyone is a deconstruction of common character archetypes and tropes that have annoyed them.
  • Dramatic Drop: Luca seems cursed with this gag.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: When Tomias walks in on Luca practicing sfeer theory and promptly ignoring everything that comes out of his mouth. You can just see this written all over the poor man's face.
  • Expy: When questioned, Chira has admitted that the blonde with the pink scarf and the dark curly haired male students seen in the background are characters from another of her and Muun's projects. She put them in entirely for their own satisfaction to "give them the happy ending they never got."
    • Chira has commented several times that she sneaks in characters from her and Muun's other stories whenever she has to draw a crowd scene. It's a bit tricky to keep track, as all of her background characters are as meticulously designed as the main cast anyway, of which any one of them may or may not appear more significantly later on in the comic, and sometimes they even have silent storylines through panels.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Chapter 1 is arguably made up of moments of just this, especially for the majority of the main cast.
    • Luca, obviously. Chapter 1 is a 55-page investment in establishing his character.
    • Balzac has an establishing moment so dramatic he literally interrupts Luca's narration.
    • The Prince is established as ambiguous and should not at all to be taken at face value. On one hand, he is introduced as a handsome, eloquent military leader... on the other, his mother runs his life and he snores in his sleep, apparently.
    • Speaking of, Voltaire (named in the line-up) is established very well as a mischievous, gossipy drunk with no care in the world—all in a single line of dialogue. As the only other person (after Balzac) to successfully establish contact with Luca, it's expected he'll come back in a big way.
    • Neruda is clearly a weird girl, though what form is yet to be seen.
    • Ovid, in turn, seems to be a mix of Fat Bastard and The Napoleon: a tiny, rotund academic with a loud voice and belligerent in wanting his due respect.
    • Blake is, well, interesting. May be setting up for Delusions of Doghood as him and and his dog, Shakespeare, seem to operate as a unit.
    • For the reader with a keen-eye, Nescio makes a few appearances as a background character throughout the chapter, and he's almost always seen seducing a fellow student. Whether he is The Casanova or a Handsome Lech is yet to be fully seen, though.
    • Montmartre got her establishing moment in Chapter 2, nearly immediately making it known that she's someone who'll inevitably swagger in to steal the spotlight and bespell the masses with the power of eloquence.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Empire of Warassa is a combination of English and Dutch cultures. Sevallia is a hybrid of Italy and Spain, and Ostravari's government sounds a lot like the Netherlands.
    • Valence seems to be clearly based on France.
  • Geek Physiques: Since the story seems to be centered around an academic setting, a large portion of the main line-up seems to be composed of these.
  • Hegemonic Empire: The Empire of Warassa, at least in Uitspan Era. It seems by Uitspan Age's story, though, it may be a Vestigial Empire.
  • Little Hero, Big War: Luca's story seems to be set up as this. While Chapter 2 is focusing on the war at hand, Luca is seemingly far removed from it. While he acknowledges a war and military presence in his setting, he has no part or stake in the conflict at hand, and his priorities lie entirely on his own livelihood at Uitspan.
  • Mad Scientist: Luca has a theory that Uitspan naturally attracts these.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Sfeer theory.
  • Mundane Utility: The first time we see Luca practicing sfeer theory, he's using a custom, never-before-seen sfeer map to... clean up after a bunch of messy students before the bigwig scholars arrive.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Calling Warran soldiers "rabbits."
  • Nominal Importance: Oddly subverted. In a weird twist, this comic seems to have a reversal of this trope. As of Chapter 2 (still ongoing) only three characters have officially been named in canon. A lot of characters of importance have names, but aren't revealed officially within the story yet. In contrast—Luca and Balzac aside—the only other character that has been named is Breis, who ends up dead within fifteen pages of his introduction. If anything, if a character is named too soon and they aren't an established main character (i.e. appear on the Cast Page), it may spell disaster for them.
  • Official Couple: The creators make no secret that Balzac and Luca are the endgame couple, though they also don't go out of their way to advertize it either. Though there is avid Ship Tease, it's been subtle enough in the canon that many people aren't even aware of it - or it could be because no one is used to seeing an overweight person as a genuine love interest.
  • Only Six Faces: So beautifully averted. Thank Chira and her nose fetish.
  • Personality Powers: Possibly the most literal example ever. Sfeer abilities are classified as Introverted or Extroverted, and what sort of powers one has is dependent upon the cyclist's overall disposition. Their power level is literally based on the force of their personality.
  • Prequel: Technically. Era was conceived as a "narrative necessity" to Age, but the story was so interesting that Muun and Chira decided that they wanted to tell it. To do it properly, they had to create Era first.
    • In other words, Age was the original brainchild, but they decided to set it up first with Era.
  • Schedule Slip: While the comic technically doesn't have a set schedule, it originally started out this way, with updates happening over the span of one or two months. However, around page 15 or so Chira has since maintained a steady schedule of roughly once a week.
    • And now starting with Chapter 2 they have established a set schedule of every Friday.
      • Updates have slowed significantly since the end of 2012, with a gap of over a month and counting as of February 2013.
  • Shock and Awe: Neruda, the woman dancing with the lightning in chapter 1.
  • Shout-Out: Many of the major characters are named after famous writers.
    • These are actually codenames, but the canon hasn't featured them yet.
  • Start of Darkness: Depends on your definition of "darkness," though. Possibly a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality.
    • Actually, supposedly Era ends before the fall itself happens, so, it may or may not count.
  • Steampunk: The clothing style, the technology, and especially how magic is treated give the story this sort of flavor.
    • Probably best described as "Regency Punk."
  • Stripperiffic: Am I the only one who thinks this outfit from chapter 1 page 27 is male Victorian Stripperiffic? Chira does call it his "hooker boot outfit." Hm....
  • Theme Naming: Many characters are named after philosophers, writers and poets.
  • Unreliable Narrator: While it's too early to tell to what degree this trope takes, there is a definite duality between what Luca narrates on himself and his setting and how he actually acts within that setting.
  • Visible Silence: Used moderately, but most notably on this page
  • With Due Respect: When being told the Warran soldiers will be tried, defended, and judged within the enemy state of Valence, the nameless squad leader of Chapter 2 enacts this sarcastically to his higher-ups in questioning the stacked bias against them.
  • Wizarding School: Uitspan University. It's implied that there are others throughout Warassa and the other countries, but at least in Warassa it's the most prestigious cyclist school.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Chapter 2 has taken a much more political turn in events that are modeled after the Boston Massacre. The Warran Empire is occupying the nation of Valence. The Valencian citizens are not happy. There has been a prominence of mob and riot scenes from the Valencian people, resulting in deaths on both sides, making the audience continuously conflicted as to which side to sympathize with more.