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Webcomic / Strange Planet

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A Webcomic by artist Nathan W. Pyle.

Taking place on an unknown planet, at an unknown time, with simple and unnamed The Greys-style alien beings as the stars, "Strange Planet" functions as a goofy mirror of our own planet in our own time simply by using only Expospeak Gag dialog.

A television adaptation developed by Pyle and Dan Harmon will premiere on Apple TV+ August 6, 2023.

Tropes used in this comic include:

  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: A being is seen as a nightclub bouncer selectively letting pizza slices in, only for them all to charge past him. He wakes up with a nearly-empty pizza box in his lap.
    "What the unpleasant nonsense."
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: A proposed round of "harmless fun with sharp objects" is made less harmless by the suggested introduction of "liquid that affects our logic."
    "This part seems unwise."
    "I ingested some already."
    "Thus your bad idea."
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: An introduction to the lifegivers goes predictably awry when they show the newcomer an extensive collection of "regrettable images" of their offspring in various phases.
  • Amusing Alien: Strange Planet posits that we’re the Amusing Aliens.
  • Apologizes a Lot:
    "I caused the collision yet you conveyed remorse."
    "It is my habit. I convey remorse to any being I collide with."
    "That is consistently considerate."
    "And even to some inanimate objects."
    "That is odd but harmless."
  • Bland-Name Product: Observe the adventures of the Marvelous Being!
  • Blanket Tug O' War: A being in bed with another notes that their respective quantities of blanket are “disproportionate” and attempts to make up the deficit, insisting, “Semiconscious selfishness is still selfishness.”
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the final comic in the first book, a tattoo artist gives the main characters a copy of the book itself.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": More like "Call a rabbit a long-eared quadruped with primarily saltatory motion", but still...
  • Canine Companion: Like us, many of the beings have an infatuation with dogs, or their planet’s three-eyed, allergy-inducing equivalent.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: One being attempts to mitigate the sadness caused by missing others by recalling their most annoying habits, but tearfully concludes, "I want to be aggravated by them."
  • Cats Are Mean: While it doesn't get as harsh a treatment as some examples, the destructive behavior and "aloof and indifferent" attitude of cats is handled in a way likely to resonate with cat-owners.
  • Cardiovascular Love: The strangeness of this convention is lampshaded several times.
    "I drew a vital organ being wounded."
  • Childish Pillow Fight: "Comfort square combat."
  • Counting Sheep: Or in Strange Planet terms, "number[ing] woolen creatures."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many of the beings.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: One dog is brought to the doctor for "ingesting objects that are not sustenance" ("Common!")
    "Your creature will function normally."
    "I hope with more wisdom."
    "The creature's inquisitiveness will overwhelm their wisdom."
  • Doting Grandparent: Two young beings are excited to be left in the care of their "super lifegivers," who refuse them nothing.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: As Pyle has commented, some early strips use words that he would later invent Expospeak Gag substitutes for, such as "animal" (which invariably becomes "creature" later on). A few strips have been subject to Orwellian Retcon to reflect this: for example, the published book version of an early comic about parents introducing their new baby has them declare its weight in "hand-rocks" instead of pounds.
    • In one early comic, one being calls another Alex. In subsequent comics, all beings are unnamed.
  • Earth All Along: Literally, the "Strange Planet" of the title remains unnamed. Allegorically, its name is obvious.
  • Expospeak Gag: 100% of the dialog, and the trope that gives the comic most of its humor. Its aliens simply using Expospeak on even the most mundane activities (e.g.: visiting neighbors, giving a hug, having a pet), it highlights the silliness and foibles of humans. The one exception is the rarely appearing tattoo artist who speaks normally... and says he picked it up reading Strange Planet.
    • On a more in-universe level, one comic has a being investigating "independent horticultural strategies"—in other words, playing Creature Intersection.
  • Extra Eyes: Most animals, including creatures resembling dogs, bears, and birds, are distinguished from their terrestrial counterparts by having three eyes. Cats are an odd exception.
  • Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: The dog equivalent is bright red and has three eyes. The cat equivalent is just a cat.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies:
    "I'm pursuing a new skill."
    "What happened to the previous skill?"
    "I did not immediately excel so I abandoned the pursuit."
    "Is excellence in any skill possible without a dedicated effort?"
    "I'm dedicated to finding out."
  • Flowers of Romance:
    "Also these are dying."
    "So meaningful."
  • The Greys: The subjects of the comic. Although when colored they're more "the Blues".
  • Hands in Pockets: The aliens are depicted from the waist up unless the action requires otherwise- even when their lower bodies are visible in a panel they'll often be wearing socks, sitting under a blanket or else something will be obscuring their feet. When the strips were published as a physical book, Pyle jokingly touted more depictions of feet as a selling point.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Nondescript, unisex-appearing The Greys are the only speaking characters. However, this isn't a Sci-Fi Webcomic — everything they do is something entirely human.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: By portraying common human actions as Amusing Alien customs, the strip shows us how we might appear to another species.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A Running Gag has one of the beings commenting on the unfathomable nature of cat behavior while obliviously indulging in similar behavior (for instance, chuckling over the cat's pursuit of a laser pointer before playing a video game).
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: One being can only observe horror movies selectively through a "digit lattice."
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: Dialogue from an in-universe action flick:
    "You preserved my existence."
  • Indirect Kiss: Discussed between a couple who accidentally used the same "mouthstone scrubber." One is disgusted while the other doesn't see why it's a big deal.
    "Is that more intimate than when we mouthpush?"
    "Mouthpushing is acceptable mouth intimacy."
  • Karaoke Box:
    "We will pay you to let us sing as badly as we want."
    "I will amplify your voices in an insulated chamber."
    "Perfect because only our friends will want to hear this."
    "I know I don't."
  • Laborious Laziness:
    "Did you complete your formal education assignment?"
    "No. But I organized my chamber."
    "You used one responsibility to evade another."
    "This will be a crucial productivity strategy for the rest of your existence."
  • Mad at a Dream:
    "Last night in a semiconscious state, I imagined you betrayed me. When I awoke these imagined events made me suspicious of the real you. What an irrational reaction."
    "And yet."
  • Master of None:
    "As the popular sentence states...I am somewhat competent at many tasks but not very competent at any task."
  • Mathematician's Answer: A few strips have this punchline, such as one about a being struggling to create a "fictional narrative" who is asked if said struggle is "substandard or routine" ("Yes").
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Two lifegivers assigning roles to their spawn:
    "You [the youngest] must be protected."
    "You [the oldest] must be responsible."
  • Must Have Caffeine: Some beings function by consuming "jitter liquid" in organ-threatening amounts.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: A young offspring invading its lifegiver's rest chamber, unable to lose consciousness.
    Lifegiver: Please reattempt. I must rest for tomorrow's events.
    Offspring: What occurs tomorrow?
    Lifegiver: I am supervising a small being and feeding them multiple times.
    Offspring: That sounds exhausting.
    Lifegiver: It is.
  • Ocean Awe: Two beings are depicted experiencing this, with one noting that it's still a novelty due to growing up "in the middle of the farfromliquid."
  • Planet of Hats: Planet of beings leading similiar lives as humans but speaking in a formal and abstract way.
  • Ring...Ring...CRUNCH: Invoked.
    ”I wish to harm the melody machine.”
  • Rule-Abiding Rebel: One couple are amused to find their offspring engaged in "mild rebellion" in the form of a Skeleton Motif sign affixed to a bedroom door, noting the "gentle adhesive" with which it's attached.
  • Shout-Out: Observation of the re-assembled bones of a perished creature leads to this:
  • Stick-Figure Comic: The art style is black-and-white line art with no distinguishing characteristics of the unnamed aliens. Pyle occasionally adds touches of pastel colors to reprint some of his more popular strips.
  • Satire/Parody/Pastiche: Very light and Horatian satire, with the intention of just showing some of the weirdness of our lives we just take for granted by using defamiliarization through Expospeak.
  • Spock Speak
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts:
    "I have tumbled head above feet for you."
    "You remove the air from my lungs."
    "You have unrightfully taken my vital organ."
  • Teachers Out of School: A young being is flabbergasted to observe an instructor "outside of the learning chamber."
    "All beings exist outside of the roles you observe them in. Whether it is your instructor or the being who prepared my jitter liquid, each being's existence expands far beyond their vocation. Do you understand?"
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Constant.
  • Tooth Fairy: Young beings are visited by the Magical Mouth Stone Being at night, who purchases their dead mouth stones from under the comfort square. The price is determined by market forces.
  • Waxing Lyrical:
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Phrased in an in-universe film as "What negative outcome could there be?"
  • Witty Banter: On a newscast about a massive creature sighting.
    "Creature experts say the creature probably just wants to ingest trash."
    "Haha don't we all?"