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Webcomic / Strays

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Strays is a joint webcomic project by Samantha Whitten and Stacey Pefferkorn, who both share responsibilities in writing and drawing the comic. Meela is a young, orphaned lupian (a race of people with wolf-like features) who is struggling to survive on her own. A chance encounter on less than pleasant terms teams her up with Feral, another lupian who happens to be nonverbal as well as one of the best mercenaries in the land, and who is not quite so welcoming of her forced company as she would like to believe.

Starts here. Ended in 2016. Not to be confused with the 2023 film or the 2022 video game.

Tropes used:

  • Aborted Arc: While still a large story, much of the original comic was scrapped when the artists decided they wished to wrap up the plot early and move on to other projects; this meant that some extra adventures Meela was to partake in with Feral were scrapped, and one particular plot thread in the beginning, the old man who recognized Meela from sheltering her and her brother from an anti-demon faction, was left unresolved and then rewritten in the comic itself.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Piper is very... friendly. Her introduction is dragging Feral up for a makeout session and stealing his coin purse—while bounty hunter Feral is preparing to stab her.
  • Art Evolution: For better or for worse the art very noticeably changes from the start of the comic to the finish, becoming less exaggerated and anime-esque over time. Some fans also pointed out in the comments that the faces became less unique over time as well. This may in part be because of one of the artists suffering from carpal tunnel.
  • Bandage Mummy: Not quite a full on mummy, but a young Feral is shown with bandages over every single one of his eventual scars in a flashback.
  • Beneath Suspicion: When sneaking into Lord Mithrennon's party, Meela poses as a servant to sneak around without being noticed. It doesn't work, though, since his guard Visrial was told to kill anyone he found sneaking around where they shouldn't.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Meela. After being pushed too far, she transforms into a demonic wolf and tears Korin apart.
  • Blow Gun: Feral starts putting one together, before the Tag Along Kid botches his assassination job.
  • Blow You Away: Piper shows us how it's done in an early panel, using wind magic to blow Feral down the stairs.
  • Bounty Hunter: Feral. Meela tries to become one by tagging along with him, in large part because her whole family has been killed by them and she thought it'd make her safer.
    • It's revealed that Meela's mother was also a bounty hunter.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: An interesting one from page 78. Feral is struggling with a man with a shotgun, and there's the sound of a shot and blood dripping between them. On the next page you see that The gunshot was directed at Feral, and missed, grazing his shoulder. The blood was from Feral stabbing the man with a knife.
  • Chiaroscuro: During the night when Meela burns down the house of Feral's first hit, the art is done this way.
  • Constantly Curious: Meela, towards Feral and his past especially.
  • Covered with Scars: Feral. On his face, on his back, on his throat, on his arms...
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Piper, who's both a crafty thief and a Vulpian (a fox human.)
  • Dances and Balls: Holland has Feral help him by sneaking into one (Holland himself goes as an uninvited guest) to find incriminating documents on the Fantastic Racist Lord Mithrennon.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Meela's dreams about herself, as well as Yuen and Mal, are shaded in sepia tone; averted for one of them when she's poisoned, which shows Yuen in color.
  • Disappeared Dad: Meela's father was killed before the story begins.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Meela does this a lot, dreaming of her own past and an unknown boy's life. It's later revealed that she has a magical ability that lets her tap into people's memories and dreams, in this case Feral's.
  • Due to the Dead: Meela burned the house of one of Feral's hits in effigy.
  • Fantastic Racism: There's some against Lupians, particularly among arrogant Lyrians like Mithrennon. There's also prejudice against demons and anything having to do with them, which turned out very bad for Meela and her family.
  • Femme Fatale: Piper. She's a beautiful thief who seduces targets for their cash and jewels—like Holland.
  • Flashback: Complete with Monochrome Past, sepia-tone in this case, there are multiple flashbacks of Meela and Yuen's past.
  • Functional Magic: Feral was able to cause phantom pain by stabbing someone's shadow (#77), and of course see the entry for Blow You Away.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Meela, who has lost all her family and yet still remains chipper and lovable barring the occasional freak out.
  • Home Sweet Home: Meela, in the back story, really wanted to go home.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Piper and Holland, in regards to their previous relationship.
    Piper: You were using me for sport?! How dare you!
    Holland: You were using me for coin.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Meela wishes that she was more like a normal Lupian with a big clan to stay in, instead of a demon Lupian with no family.
  • Important Haircut: In the backstory, Meela's brother cut her hair when they went into hiding to disguise her as a boy. Her hairstyle also changes for good to a less wild-child 'do following her almost fatal poisoning.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Kosher's preferred form long-distance communication. In a different variant of this trope, Holland makes use of birds to send messages to Jyaku, who knows how to speak bird.
  • King Incognito: Prince Holland!
  • Klingon Promotion: Played with. Korin takes leadership of Yuen's clan by killing the former leader; he had tried a number of times before, but didn't win until he had outside help and a knife. Additionally, given that weapons are not allowed in the fight to begin with and that such is considered cheating, Korin might have taken control of the clan by threatening his rivals rather than being officially accepted.
  • Knight Templar Parent: That's what promotion to parent gets you, sometimes. Feral will rip anyone apart if they hurt Meela, and even shoves Holland around when Meela got poisoned during his plan.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Meela and Feral have this relationship. At the end of the comic, Meela tells Feral that he's like a brother to her.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Varying degrees for the animal races, dependent on species and each individual's preference. Lupians have tails and prefer to have more human ears, for example, while Cervians have just antlers, compared to Vulpians' ears-and-tail. Lyrians are the most human looking out of all the animal races, only distinguished by tattoos on their backs.
  • Magic Pants: All the shapeshifting races we've seen so far will shapeshift in and out of whatever clothes they're wearing.
  • Missing Mom: Meela's mother was a bounty hunter and disappeared after going after a target; her whereabouts are never explained. Until the epilogue when we find out that she is still alive and well and was found by Jyaku, but chooses to refrain from revealing herself to Meela in hopes of letting the girl live a happy life with her new "Family".
  • Morality Pet: Meela's definitely this for Feral, who is a hardened bounty hunter.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Korin shows quite a bit of remorse after his aggressively grabbing Avela accidentally caused her to slip and crack her head on the table. Not that it lasts. Feral also had a brief one when he started choking Meela in reflex after she woke him up, sleeping in the corner like a dog afterwards.
    • It's actually the lack of a reaction like this in Feral that makes Meela furious after she accuses him of killing her father. Not that he remembered doing it at all in the first place.
  • Never My Fault: Immediately after killing Yuen's mother in a show of aggression gone wrong, Korin spots the horrified Yuen and yelps that it was all his fault.
  • New First Comics: In the form of a retcon of one of the earlier parts of the story, the artists had intended the comic to go on longer than it did and set up a plot thread they will now never resolve in the story and so rewrote the entire scene.
  • Oh, Crap!: Holland, complete with saying the trope by name, when he realizes Feral's been discovered by Mithrennon's guards. There are plenty of other brilliant Oh, Crap! moments all throughout the webcomic, though.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The very start of the comic has Meela's father's killer standing in silhouette and turning to face her, only his teeth visible. In the climax that panel returns, with the grinning face replaced with Feral's face.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They can change at will with a flash of light, are gigantic, and keep distinguishing features such as eye color and scars. In this case, the people who can transform into wolves are also part of a series of human-animal species including rabbit-people, bird-people, deer-people, cat-people, and fox-people.
  • Overly Long Name: That's Prince Holland Perdicus Lathalinethetul to you!
  • Pink Is for Sissies: Meela is not a fan of Holland's taste in dresses.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Visrial's specialty, using throwing knives laced with poison.
  • Power Glows: Transformations from between animal and human forms feature glowing, as do other forms of magic.
  • Promotion to Parent: Feral gradually adopts the role of a father to Meela as he goes.
  • Retcon: Early in the comic, Meela meets with an old man who supposedly knows her from when she was a young girl, but who dies before he can explain how or why. It was intended by the authors that he was someone who sheltered her brother and her from demon hunters, whose wife was killed because of it. Later on, as the artists wished to wrap up the comic more quickly, the entire arc was rewritten so that he was just a servant who married too high above his status for people's liking.
  • Royal Blood: Holland.
  • The Runaway: Holland made a regular habit of sneaking away from home when he was little, especially when he met Feral, and Yuen was unfortunately driven to this after his parents were killed.
  • Scars are Forever: Feral has many scars, most visibly over his right eye; the rest, including the severe scarring on his throat, are usually covered by his clothes.
  • Schizo Tech: It may seem to be around The Middle Ages judging by the inn early on, but the clothing styles and materials are fairly modern(ish), plus the existence of firearms and varying degrees of magic. The existence of political systems like councils to aid the royal family also places it in a higher time period equivalent.
  • Security Blanket: Meela clutches her bear in one flashback. Later on, she makes her wrist bracelet into one, but in a twisted way—her father died right after he passed it down to her brother, who died when he passed it on to her, so she now believes she will die if she loses the bracelet.
  • Shapeshifting: All of the 'animal' races seem capable of changing between two forms with some practice or being taught. This includes Feral and Meela as a wolf, Piper as a fox, Holland as a swan, Visrial as a panther, and later on Meela's demonic wolf form.
  • Silent Snarker: Feral. He has to be to put up with Meela's antics.
  • The Speechless: Feral, thanks to a lovely set of scars over his throat gained when Mal tore his vocal chords out.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Holland can pull a bow and arrow pretty much out of thin air and ready it in one smooth motion.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Splendidly averted by Avela, who punches Korin in the face for even trying this on her. Doesn't save her in the end, though
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Among other Lupian features, Meela has amber eyes.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Meela's brother insists that she act like a boy so the bounty hunters won't notice them.
  • Tag Along Kid: Meela to Feral, after having been this for her brother. She slowly learns to become more independent and able to help herself in Feral's care.
  • The Silent Bob: Despite being mute, Feral is perfectly understandable thanks to his wide hand gestures and Unsound Effect.
  • Tomato Surprise: Inverted. Despite what Meela has assumed by dreaming herself as Yuen, Yuen actually looks a lot more like a certain bounty hunter than he does like her.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Meela's brother inflicted one on her in the backstory, so that she would look like a boy and be easier to hide.
  • The Trickster: Piper. Holland shows some traces of it too... he certainly knows more than he lets on, and isn't afraid to bend the truth or lie a little sometimes.
  • Unsound Effect: Several, usually involving Feral, along with hand gestures.
  • Visible Silence: A lot of Feral's dialogue is this when he's glaring at people or standing in utter shock.
  • Wham Line: One when Meela is having another dream and manages to speak to Yuen.
    Meela: Why do you look like me?
    Yuen: *Cue hair and eye color change* I don't.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Piper, one of Feral's targets who helps them out once or twice and then disappears from the story. Kosher, Feral's boss, never shows up after his first appearance (save for in flashback) and never seems to wonder why his bounty hunter has been away so long.
  • Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Most spectacularly, Yuen after seeing his mother get killed.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Visrial. Most of the others would, too, if they had to. Piper so far is the only one who seemingly wouldn't hurt a child, which is shocking to say the least.
    • Actually averted with Feral, who even wanted to back out of his hit on Meela's father when he discovered he had children. Then the evil Mal side of him took over...