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Webcomic / Sister Claire

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Claire shows off her Holy Watergun

Sister Claire is a webcomic created by Elena Barbarich (a.k.a Yamino) and her wife, Ash. The comic starts off comedic and full of Shout Outs and homages, but becomes much more dramatic and serious in the transition to Book 2.

Sister Claire is a novice nun, and all she ever wanted was a purpose in life, and a kitten would be nice, too. But when a beautiful blue businesswoman named Gabrielle explodes out of her toilet and tells her she's pregnant with the new Messiah, this Celibate Heroine realizes she may be in for more than she bargained for: a fantastic adventure to protect her miraculous baby (and possibly the universe) from total rapture.

Sister Claire's best friend and mentor, Sister Catharine, is unfortunately extremely allergic to cats, which is why Claire is forbidden to play with them. Unfortunately for Catharine, Claire can't seem to stay away from her best cat-friend Snowy for long, and this brings down harsh punishment from the terrifying Sister Marguerite, who finds every excuse to torment Claire with cruel and unusual punishments.

Claire initially crumbles under the guilt of accidentally aggravating Catharine's cat allergies and from the pressure of becoming the mother of the new Messiah. (Her pregnancy is confirmed by a flurry of strange blue babies, who turn out to be rather disposable.) The plot thickens as Sister Catharine appears to be stalked by an evil Cheshire-like cat, who eventually possesses her, turning her into the evil Sister Cat.

After temporarily defeating Sister Cat with her holy Watergun, Claire begins her training in Nun Fu. And as the story continues, it's revealed that there's more going on than Gabrielle let on and much bigger threats on the horizon coming Claire's way. Will her newfound training see her through before the birth of her child?

The story is presented in two formats, comic updates (every Monday and Friday) and Missing Moment stories, illustrated prose that usually focuses on the characters' pasts, updated Tues-Thurs. Some suggested reading orders can be seen here.

Now has a character sheet. Please contribute.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Grimm's possession of Catherine ends in the middle of Book 2 with little to no payoff. Though in hindsight, two Missing Moments that came much later, "Non Svegliarle" and "Ad Astra", reveal that in most cases sharing a body with a Shard will not end well for the human host. There are exceptions to this, as revealed later still, but in those cases a symbiosis of sorts was formed.
  • After the End: The scene of a futuristic city, in ruins and overgrown, heavily implies this, as does Yamino's teasing asides in the comment section of the comic.
  • Arc Words: NO ESCAPE.
  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Claire herself, and many of the other protagonists.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The strip that reveals Sister Oscar as transgender is a bit vague, since her speech balloon saying "I'm no man." can throw readers off a bit. Your only confirmation for sure is the commentary below the strip, which can escape your notice if you don't scroll down to see it.
    • The "Missing Moments" stories greatly expands on the characters and the world much more than the comic does. It's gotten to the point where Missing Moments has overtaken the main series in terms of storytelling and major plot details are revealed and explained there instead of in the comic itself.
  • Almost Kiss: In the "Reaching Back" Missing Moment, Claire and Marie finally find a moment to indulge their growing feelings for each other and lean in to kiss... only for Azi to burst into the room and ruin the moment. Claire does give Marie a little smooch on the corner of her mouth and promise to pick up where they left off whenever she wants, though.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • Grimm, the Cheshire-ish cat. Yamino has stated that Grimm doesn't have a specific gender and is mostly referred to as "they".
    • Magpie is genderfluid. Their gender changes throughout the story (sometimes in the middle of a scene), which can be confusing if you haven't seen the missing moment page that explains it.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Coupled with Ambiguously Gay. Yamino has stated that there are no cisgender heterosexuals in the cast, leaving anyone who hasn't had their orientation outright confirmed an example of these tropes.
  • Ambiguously Human: Animal witches, selkies such as Gabby, shards, and other magical beings definitely count toward this.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The author teases this after revealing the ruined advanced city.
  • Artifact Title: The nun aspect of the story began losing significance in Book 2 and by Book 3 Claire and most of her companions have denounced their vows entirely.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Say hello to the Mondo Shard.
  • Author Avatar: If Yamino needs a random-ass background character to throw up or otherwise humiliate themselves melodramatically, it'll likely be an incarnation of herself.
  • Author Appeal: Yamino is homosexual and the comic has always had gay themes to it and they became much more prominent after Yamino's then girlfriend, now wife Ash began helping her write the story. Similarly, after Yamino and Ash started polyamorous relationship with another person, more characters in the comic began having polyamorous relationships also.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The Queen's pregnancy. While hinted to be Rosalie and Marie, they turn out to be two sons who sadly only live about a week. Switched again when Rosalie and Marie are indeed revealed to be the King and Queen's daughters.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: Gabrielle told Claire that she was pregnant with the new Messiah. As it turns out, not so much.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Catharine and Oscar when they reunite in book 2. It takes up a whole page.
  • Black Comedy: Sister Claire accidentally squishes a Bubble Boy with her bare hands, but they turn out to be "rather replaceable," in Gabrielle's words.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Heterosexuals don't even exist in the comic per the author.
  • Cat Girl: Sister Catherine becomes one when the feline Shard Grimm possesses her.
  • Celibate Hero: Played with, in that the author has said that while the nuns do take celibacy vows they're not strictly enforced, and most Mother Superiors not only know that many nuns have relationships but don't care unless it interferes with their duties, in the case of the main cast mostly revolving around protecting Mercy and the attached village. Even Sister Abraham is said to not really care if the Helsings have relationships as long as it doesn't compromise them.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: It begins to be hinted at around here things are not as bright or silly as they appear. And then the witch trial begins...
  • The Chew Toy: Poor Claire just can't catch a break.
  • The Chosen One: Claire is chosen as the mother of the Messiah by Gabrielle. However, this gets completely subverted in Book Two by the facts that there was no Messiah, Claire is more or less Clementine 2.0, and the "baby" was Claire's powers manifesting.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Since Claire (and the readers) don't find out her true origins until Book Two, Claire appears as an example at her introduction. However, Claire is the reincarnation of Clementine, Catharine's little sister.
  • Cult of Personality: Clementine has one among witches. Her creation of Eden, a witch sanctuary city, and her power to heal Shards resulted in witches viewing her as a Christ-like savior. The sentiment is still strong almost two decades after her death, as Cog's family still maintains a shrine devoted her and young witches like Lupo were raised idolizing her.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The comic starts out in black-and-white until Gabrielle first appears. It's meant to represent how Claire's world is simple and secluded until Gabrielle's arrival.
  • Demonic Possession: Grimm (the Cheshire-ish cat) for Catharine, though it's a willing one. Grimm claims the possession is permanent; they're either lying or mistaken as Claire and Esperanza expel Grimm from Catharine. Grimm is now a unique part of the fleeing party and Sister Cat hasn't appeared since.
  • Doorstop Baby: Sister Claire. We find out in Book Two that this isn't the true story, and that Catharine knows quite well where she came from.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The series was a lot more quirky in the beginning and had a bit of a modern vibe to it. Shortly after the witch trial and Ash joining in on fleshing out the world, however, it now has more of a somber and serious tone while downplaying more of the modern aspects for a medieval feel. The modern aspects are plot-important, though.
    • Olga was originally much more prejudiced and hostile towards witches and magick users, teaching Claire that witches are vain and evil beings whose magick attracts shards and they should all be warded or killed. Later on, we learn that not only is she knowingly dating an unwarded witch and living alongside many other witches, but that she also disagrees with the extreme tactics used by the Helsings that she originally supported in Book One.
    • The nuns of the Mercy Abbey were originally hinted to be former fighters of a war against witches, a concept that was quickly dropped.
    • Originally the religion followed by the nuns was plainly stated to be Christianity. However, as the comic goes on, its become more and more vague what faith they're following. There's dialogue that suggests that their religion is polytheistic in nature and Ash and Yamino removed references to Christianity from the dialogue when they re-edited the earlier chapters.
    • Rosalie and Marie swooning over Oscar in her first appearance becomes disturbing when it's later revealed that not only did she raise them like they were her daughters, but also that she's their older half-sister, but it's been confirmed the two of them don't actually know this.
    • Jackson notifying the Helsings about the wolf witches in the capital makes little sense since Missing Moments revealed that she personally knows how extreme and violent they are, with them having attempted to burn down Mercy, nearly killing Marguerite and Catherine.
    • The concept of energia has all been pretty much overshadowed by magick in the story, with it not having been significantly mentioned in years.
    • Grimm's personality was much more violent and threatening in Chapter One, particularly toward Catherine.
  • Easter Egg: Yamino loves throwing in homages and references for readers to find. Some are more subtle, others are direct homages, such as the Powerpuff Girls 10th anniversary page, featuring Claire and the PPG sharing a cake. The first few chapters were chock-a-block for visual shout-outs, and most chapters still have at least a few.
  • Empathic Healer: Both Catharine and Clementine/Claire can heal: Catharine can heal the living, to the point of reversing death and temporarily killing herself, while Claire can heal the dead, but takes on all of the pain and anger of those lost souls.
  • Everyone Can See It: Jackson and Olga's relationship is about as well kept a secret as the ending to Citizen Kane. Everyone from the Mother Superior to Azi, who literally just met them, can tell.
  • Expy:
    • A lot of characters are directly based off of characters from other series. Just to name a few: Oscar is based off of Oscar, Yolanda is based off of Yoda and Lupo and the Wolfwitches are based off of Mowgli and the wolf pack.
    • The series also takes a lot of inspiration from Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. Shards use a lot of same rules and logic as the Heartless, Wolfwitch robes look like pajamas designed by Tetsuya Nomura, and Claire has a secret past life that she doesn't remember, which can describe about half of the protagonists in Square Enix's games.
  • Everybody Was Nun-fu Fighting: How Claire described the battle against Sister Cat as part of a recap.
  • Fan Disservice: Naked Sister Marguerite, complete with disgusted reactions from the other nuns. Of course, her dialogue probably didn't help matters. The author says looking up references for that page was quite a harrowing experience.
  • Fanservice: Here you go.
  • Femme Fatalons: Sister Cat.
  • Finger-Lickin' Evil:
  • Filler: Gabrielle taking Claire to an undersea nightspot in order to relax. It's a good kind of filler, though, building character and the relationship between the two characters
  • Foreshadowing: The Missing Moments are basically Foreshadowing: the Series as each installment tends to line up with the main storyline, and thus introduce characters and ideas about to emerge in the comic proper.
    • Check the third panel here and notice the placement of the antlers on the wall. Given the hints about Claire's connection to Clementine/The Horned One/The Witch Queen and the creators' attention to detail this is most likely not an accident.
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: It's clear that the nuns do not hold their vows all that close, particularly the vows of celibacy and haughtiness.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Sister Claire loves all animals, but especially cats. She's a vegetarian for this reason. Turns out the cat thing might not be coincidence.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: This is pretty much the comic's overreaching theme. We're lead to believe that witches are evil but the ones seen so far only wish to live in peace and are only hunted down out of fear of their powers. Likewise the nuns, coming off a war, are paranoid that witches are still doing evil deeds and a few seek to destroy them outright. All actions on both sides are well-intentioned but only keeps prolonging the conflict leading to more hatred and pain. Ultimately, even the characters who seem like the most cut-and-dry villains, (such as Abraham and Shards for example), turn out to be complex characters with deep reasons for their actions.
  • Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?:
    • The twins, even going so far as to have deliberate yuri symbolism all over them. But in their case, it's not forbidden love (...maybe) but forbidden psychic powers.
    • Back during Clementine's time, Oscar innocently but insensitively suggests magic users should stop using their abilities to avoid persecution. Clem and Magpie are quick to remind Oscar how painful it is to deny what you truly are to fit in.
  • Heroic BSoD: Magpie has one after visiting Mercy Abbey after finding out too late about the incident where Claire healed Rosalie and Marie and almost everyone involved in the incident lost their memories. What hits hardest is Marguerite not remembering them or their relationship on top of existing guilt over failing to save some of their friends during Eden's fall, and so Magpie shifts into bird form and gradually forgets they were once human.
  • Hot Springs Episode: starting here. One of many homages to anime and manga.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Happened in a guest strip that has since been lost to restructuring of the site.
  • Hulking Out: Behold. The resulting Oh, Crap! face is entirely justified.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Annulus. The author states that making a pact with one was meant to represent marriage, specifically the nunís marriage to G.O.D.
  • I Have Many Names: Gabrielle.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: The new habits the nuns are wearing in the newer chapters may qualify.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The reason Claire is in the bathroom when she first meets Gabrielle is because Sister Marguerite gave her a severe dose of "Holy Shit Laxative".
  • Jerkass: Sister Marguerite, AND FUCKING HOW. Until Catharine heals her, at least. The artist admitted that Marguerite was based on a nun teacher she once had. She does say she knows that not all nuns are so scary.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Going nearly to Crazy Cat Lady extremes.
  • Knight Templar: A few of the nuns toward witchcraft. Even if said person isn't truly evil. Justified as the older nuns are still reeling from a war with witches and know that there are some still out there. Considering Claire's case, this is tragically ironic.
    • Likewise works the other way with witches as the introduction with Hanabi shows.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Some of the abbey just couldn't handle the horrors of the Twins brief Shard regression and Claire sprouting horns. In comes Yolanda with a memory purging tea.
  • Little Hero, Big War: Apparently, Clementine played some major role in the "Witch War".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Almost every character can qualify for this after their respective trip to the hot springs, though it's more Innocent Fanservice Girl instances, if anything. Straighter examples would be Gabrielle, and Sister Cat.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The order Claire belongs to is called the "Sisters of Mercy", so, naturally, they're actually battle nuns who train to fight evil with violence rather than, say, Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Claire has reputedly almost killed Catharine by accident several times, including the unexplained "watermelon incident."
    • Rosie and Marie caused some kind of glitter incident when they were younger.
  • No Antagonist: The comic has yet to introduce any overarching villains or central conflict. That isn't to say that the main cast doesn't have enemies or deal with internal strife, it's just not the thing that drives the plot.
  • Nuns 'n' Rosaries
  • Nuns Are Mikos: Though it's likely that this trope is just in effect for Rule of Cool, since the artist actually does know quite a bit about real nuns and has even been taught by them in real life.
  • Nuns Are Spooky: Well somewhat justified in a few cases as they're either or partly witches themselves.
  • Nun Too Holy: Some of the more extremest nuns, most notably the Helsing branch.
  • Obviously Evil: Evil Cat
  • Oh, Crap!: This was the fans' initial reaction when Mother Abraham sensed Catharine saving Maman from dying and headed that way. Justified given what she did in an earlier Missing Moment...
  • Orwellian Retcon:
    • The artwork was redrawn in many places for the first print volume, and the online pages were replaced with the new versions. Changes include a more salamander-like design for Sal and more elaborate backgrounds for the Atlantis chapter.
    • Another update was done for the Book One reprint. Some of the early gross-out humor is removed, such as Catharine's allergic reaction being changed from a face full of sores to a respiratory attack, and the scene where Marguerite gives Claire diarrhea is also removed from that chapter. Some lines are changed to keep consistent with later characterization, such as the bottom left panel here,note  and new scenes are added in.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Sister Catharine has refused to explain herself on a number of topics, even when it would be rather helpful to her companions, especially Claire.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "I'm sorry to tell you that our name, Sisters of Mercy, is a bit misleading. God shows mercy. We don't."
  • Rage Against the Mentor: After Rosalie learned that Thorum Mare has been sealed off by Helsings, meaning that Catherine had spent the entire journey lying to them about where they were going, she finally snaps and calls Catherine out for her secretive and untrustworthy behavior.
  • Reincarnation: Claire is the reincarnation of Clementine, right down to the horns.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Turns out that there were actually advanced civilizations before the main story. However since a lot of it was built with magitek, this ended up attracting Shards in the process. The cities tried to fight them off but the Shards soon grew too much for their weapons and the cities were destroyed and abandoned. Thorum Mare managed to last the longest because they didn't use such technology and it was cut off from the mainland, but the Shards eventually got to it too.
  • Rule of Three: The Trinity plays a large role in most aspects of the story.
  • Scenery Porn: This valley and the path to the ruins.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • The series originally featured things like social media and like, but that has been mostly downplayed in favor of a more medieval setting.
    • It's later revealed that the world used to have entire cities filled with futuristic technology but it attracted Shards who overran and destroyed them. Because of this, no one attempts to revive the old technologies or invent new ones out of fear of Shard attacks. Small devices such as radios and ceiling fans are confirmed to exist, but it's unclear exactly how advanced or primitive the world of Sister Claire actually is.
  • Secret Relationship: Between Olga and Jackson with Oscar's accidental discovery of it taking place in one of the Missing Moments, and by the time this gets revealed in the main comic it turns out to be a case of Everybody Knew Already.
  • Self-Deprecation: The girl Olga punishes in Chapter 3? Yep, that's the author. Counts as a Creator Cameo too.
  • Sexy Mentor: Sister Catharine. AND Gabrielle.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Sisters Agnes and Henrietta more or less disappear from the comic and Missing Moments after Chapter One. Yoda expy Sister Yolanda remains relatively prominent though she has been mostly removed from the ongoing events of the main story.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Catharine claims Sister Marguerite is one, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that she just really misses her job as a witch hunter, and Claire's mistakes are just convenient excuses to vent her pent-up sadism.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
    • Despite the title of the comic, a lot of the focus winds up on other characters other then Claire. Even the Missing Moments, which flesh out the character's backstories, focus more on her past when she was living as her former incarnation, Clementine, despite the fact the comic makes it clear these are two separate characters.
    • The B-team consisting of Olga, Jackson, Oscar and Marguerite progresses the comic's plot much more than Claire's group does.
    • More or less half of Missing Moments focus on Oscar and her supporting cast.
  • Sssssnake Talk: Subverted by the eel bouncer at Atlantis. He has a lisp.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Talk like Yoda, Mother Superior does.
  • Straw Character: The uppity noble Oscar fights in Missing Moments is nothing more than an elitist Hate Sink that Oscar can beat up and humiliate without consequence. So much so that he doesn't get a design or even a name.
  • Strictly Formula: Jerky character seems evil. Jerky character has sympathetic/tragic backstory. Jerky character is now good. Repeat ad-naseum.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Grimm, and Catharine while possessed.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "There's nothing suspicious or weird happening!"
  • Sweet Seal: Gabby the Selkie is an adorable seal pup or a cute, chubby human girl when she's on land.
  • Tagline: Formerly: Pregnant nun, Holy Crap!
  • Tears of Blood: Claire passes a statue weeping red tears here, signaling that events are about to take a turn for the worse...
  • That Came Out Wrong: Olga here. After the nuns disrobe for bathing, Oscar and Olga are both self-conscious of their bodies — Oscar because she is transgender, and Olga because of her stretch marks. Oscar compliments Olga's stretch marks. Olga attempts to return the compliment by telling her she looks nice without clothes.
  • That Was Not a Dream: When Claire wakes up after her trip to Atlantis, she initially thinks that the previous chapters' events were all a dream, but quickly comes to her senses.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Claire. Just look at her first encounter with Grimm, versus her second.
  • Torture Technician: Sister Marguerite, apparently.
    When it comes to pain, I'm a professional. And I love my job.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Implied for Hanabi here.
  • Updated Re-release: Non-videogame example. When the site was updated in 2016, earlier comic pages were re-drawn to downplay the initially sillier moments of the comic, add in more scenes to bring some more context to the character's relationships and bring it more in line with the current tone of the story.
  • Valley Girl: Sister Marie talks like one.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: After immaculately conceiving the Messiah, Claire is sick.
    • As is Yamino, when she sees an opportunity to use theatrics to save the world from Sister Marguerite.
  • Virgin Power
  • Wacky Cravings: Om nom wooden mugs nom nom.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Claire asks Gabrielle this, tearfully wondering if she ever cared about her at all, or even saw her as Claire instead of Clementine.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Most of the nuns such as Olga and Marguerite and, according to Catharine, Grimm.
  • Wham Episode/Wham Shot: The end of Chapter Six of Book 2. Claire suddenly starts growing horns on her head, just like the Witch Queen. She likewise loses the baby as well. Then we find out it was never a baby to begin with.
  • Wham Line:
    Wolf Witches Queen: We can't ignore the signs that a war is brewing again. We could use powerful allies. Lupo, track these witches. Protect them.
    • And later:
      Marguerite: I do hope to see her again one day, that child with her antlers. Little Clementine.
    • From Chapter 7 in Book 2
      Gabrielle: It's not a baby, Claire. I'm so sorry. It was never a baby.
    • From Missing Moment: Lamento della Regina
      Michel: Years and years they've slept, and you... you hear them? Our Rose... our Marigold... you truly hear them?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sal and the mer-people of Atlantis haven't been seen since Book 1. On a similar note, G.O.D., the mysterious organization that Gabrielle works for, hasn't been mentioned in years either.
    • Sal is mentioned in Book 2 as being part of Gabrielle's "pod" that keeps her from changing into a siren.
    • As for G.O.D., in Book 3, Chapter 4, it's revealed that "G.O.D." stands for "Garden of Delights", named for Sabine/Maman's home and workplace, and is in fact what remains of Clementine's old council.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Sister Claire.