The Millers are a troubled family. Suzette and her little brother Mikey are all alone now, with a father who's been in jail for years and doesn't look like getting out anytime soon, and a mother who's been abusing alcohol to the point she's gotten thrown into rehab. Child services is coming to take them away, and the two kids are likely to be split up as a result. But Suzette and Mikey have a plan; they'll ask Matilda to stand in as their adoptive guardian. But Matilda's not your average step-mom. She's eight feet tall, weighs six hundred pounds, has fangs, claws, scales, fur and horns, and, oh yeah, for the last five years, she's been working as the monster living in Mikey's closet. But she's still their only hope of staying together - and they're her only chance for a place to live.
Can a monster and some humans make a family out of each other?
A black and white webcomic created by Toxic Toothpick on deviantArt. Can be viewed here: http://toxictoothpick.deviantart.com/gallery/23893207/Step-Monster
Provides examples of:
- All There in the Manual: A lot of facts about monster behavior, biology, society, etcetera comes from comments made by the author under each page of the comic.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Matilda weighs 600lbs and has a distinctly pudgy build, and encounters with other monsters make it clear that she genuinely is overweight. General fan response is that she looks "cuddly" and appealing to snuggle, and a number of art-pieces done by the author depict her and the kids cuddled up together.
- Big Brother Bully: Matilda's Jerkass brother Gordon was one, and still is one; volume 4 of the first book is about how he comes to visit his little sister for the explicit purpose of rubbing her face in how she's such a loser compared to him, and this isn't the first time she's done so.
- Big Eater: Matilda likes to pack the food away when she can. This is something her acquaintances are willing to call her out on.
- Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Matilda's species of monsters hatch from eggs that the females lay and incubate.
- Brick Joke: Of a rather Black Comedy variety; Matilda eats a dog in a panel gag in the first volume of the first book. At the end of said volume, she burps up its collar and sheepishly explains that pets aren't a good idea with her in the family.
- Dysfunctional Family: The Millers, without a question. Even the author admits it. The biological dad is in jail, the biological mother is in rehab for alcohol abuse, the step-mother is an 8ft tall 600lb monster, and the budding step-dad is the aforementioned monster's human boyfriend.
- Expanding on that, the step-monster is a self-professed Jerkass who likes pulling pranks on and scaring Mikey Miller, her adopted son, in part because she's spent the last five years doing so to make a living, in part because she just finds it funny. She also likes arguing with and insulting her adopted daughter, Suzette Miller, and pranks her too. At the same time, she still cares for them pretty deeply, and claims she's a jerk to them because she likes them.
- Matilda's boyfriend, Roy? He lost his first job with child services because Matilda basically threatened him into passing her as an acceptable custodian, then his boss fired him for claiming he was chased off by a monster. He was forced to move in next door, and only started warming up to Matilda after she saved him from a pair of robbers.
- Eat the Dog: Monster instincts are that "small animal = food", and so they tend to snap up pets without thinking about it. Hence the above-mentioned brick joke.
- Extreme Omnivore: Matilda scares off a pair of robbers on her first day on the job by eating their guns.
- Henpecked Husband: Gordon's wife rules the family, when she can be bothered to get off her phone.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Monsters did eat humans once, but that was "way, waaaay back" and it is now officially shunned by them, with the author likening those who break this law and eat humans to be analogous to the Ku Klux Klan.
- Interspecies Romance: Roy and Matilda are pretty much set to start dating after the end of the fourth volume of book 1, and in "The Talk", Matilda explicitly refers to him as her boyfriend.
- Human/monster relationships in general aren't unheard of, and can apparently even have kids if one take's Sally's comments in book 1 volume 2 seriously, but they're pretty strongly reacted to by more conservative monsters.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Matilda. The author outright describes her as "lazy, fat and cynical" and "kind of a jerk", and she admits she's something of an asshole — she ends up blowing her initial cover by being unable to resist taunting Mikey on the basketball field and making him cry, which causes her to fail the checkout as a viable guardian for the Miller kids. On the other hand, she has a very strong moral streak where it matters, she's quite loving in her own rough way, and she is fiercely protective of her adopted kids.
- Mama Bear: Matilda wastes no time in racing home and threatening to kill her old college friend Sally when Sally tries to eat Mikey.
- Non-Malicious Monster: In general, the monsters of the setting; eating humans is seen as morally wrong (pets can be fair game, though) and most monsters are content to live and let live. They can be kind of jerks, and one of their lowest-esteemed jobs is scaring human kids, but that's about it.
- Office Romance: Roy is Matilda's boss at the convenience store where they work.
- Our Dragons Are Different:
- Matilda and Gordon's species look like wingless cartoon dragons, complete with bull-like horns and tails with arrowhead points.
- Gordon's wife, Sasha, looks much more serpentine than her husband, complete with elongated fang-like canines and a forked tongue, and is also a Sizeshifter.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Matilda miraculously manages to pass as human to anyone who doesn't already know she's a monster simply by squeezing into any shirt & pants that can barely fit her bulk, despite being an eight feet tall fluffy dragon-thing.
- This is actually a "thing" for monsters in-setting; so long as they make at least a token effort to disguise themselves, then humans will generally accept them.
- Averted by Matilda's co-worker; so long as he keeps a shirt on to disguise his Belly Mouth, and keeps his cylopean eye shut, he looks like a smiling human guy with Blinding Bangs. None of the readers knew he was a monster until he finally opened his eye - heck, even Matilda didn't figure it out until then!
- The Pig-Pen: According to the author, Matilda hates bathing and only does so once a month. Admittedly, monsters can go longer than humans without bathing before starting to stink, and more importantly, Matilda's bath entails her being put in a makeshift trough and scrubbed down by Roy, Suzette and Mikey with hoses, buckets, brushes and washclothes in the garden, due to her being too big for a bathtub.
- Promotion to Parent: The Miller kids' plan for avoiding being sent to child services; have Matilda pretend to be their aunt from California and legally take charge of them. The rest of the comic deals with her handling the success of the ploy.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Roy interrupts Gordon's taunting of Matilda and quite decisively puts him in his place about how Matilda is not some loser.
- Sizeshifter: Gordon's wife, a reptilian Russian monster, can grow from being about half his height to almost twice his height.
- Supreme Chef: Roy is not only good at cooking food in large quantities — handy, given Matilda's appetite — but also quite a skilled cook as well, seeing as how Matilda is quick to sing the praises of his efforts at cooking her favorite meals.
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: It's an actual job that monsters can take in this setting, although it has minimum wage and minimum respect, to the point the author describes it as their equivalent of being a Burger Fool.
- Trademark Favorite Food: According to book 1, volume 4, Matilda just goes nuts for slow-roasted beef and deep-fried potatoes with gravy.
- Urban Fantasy: The setting; just like our world, only monsters hide amongst us, living their own lives in their world and occasionally ours.
- Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Before she runs for her life, Sally taunts Mikey that Matilda will inevitably give in to her instincts and eat the Millers, just like Sally tried to do so.
- Averted; Matilda has absolutely no cravings for human flesh, and finds the idea she might feel otherwise to be insulting. The author has noted Matilda wouldn't eat humans even if it were legal for her to do so.
- When She Smiles: Matilda just lights up when she's happy, most prominently seen when Roy confesses his feelings to her.