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Webcomic / Terror Island

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Terror Island is a TV Tropes-aware (see notes below comic) webcomic about two Cloudcuckoolander roommates who try to trick each other into buying groceries, and everyone else in their intellectual, subversive, and surreal world of board-game playing pieces. Written by Diane Heatonnote  and Lewis Powell.

Characters include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Sid Byrahk, a privateer wordsmith who refuses to buy groceries. Stephen's roommate. Played by Professor Plum from Clue.
  • Stephen Greeter, a vexillographer who also refuses to buy groceries. Played by the White King's Rook.
  • Liln, a jeweler who thinks the whole grocery debate is stupid. Jame is her boyfriend. Played by the Red Foam Piece.
  • Jame Palrose, a restaurateur. Decidedly the least 'zany' of the bunch. Gets possessed by a (rather incompetent) demon. Played by a blue Tiddlywink.
  • York Funhaven, a game salesman/designer who constantly tries to sell things to people, and went to college at Center of the Earth University, which is actually on the Moon. Played by the thimble from Monopoly.
  • Aorist, who is unemployed. Friendly, and participates in other peoples' schemes, often putting crazy twists on them. Killed by a resurfaced Demon-Jame, and eventually resurrected by Bartleby. Played by a green Icehouse pyramid.
  • First Folio, one of York's classmates at Center of the Earth University (which, again, is on the moon), who keeps kosher, wants to find out more about Omicron, and is experienced with supernatural creatures. Played by a green Cranium piece.
  • Omicron, Sid's cat. Used to be Sid and Stephen's, but Stephen lost his half in a bet about formica. Played by Ray, an actual cat, making it a much bigger character than anybody else. Ray passed away during the strip's run, leading to Omicron's quiet disappearance from the story.
  • Gunpowder Jackson, M.D, Jame's stuntman. Got his position as a punishment for jaywalking, due to the doubly imaginary Law of Jame. Played by a red Pictionary cube.
  • The Green Grocer, grocery store owner turned Card-Carrying Villain who loves to say his own villain-name. Played by a green Sorry! piece.
  • Gibbs and Lockley, Author Avatars. Played by two trains from the railroad version of the game Rush Hour.

Terror Island concluded on September 12, 2008. It's not related to Island of Terror.

Contains examples of:

  • Ain't No Rule: Against teleportation in a skateboarding competition.
    Ned Q. Sorceror: That's what you get for permitting anything which is not expressly forbidden. Fools!
    Sue Sydo: So there are rules against jumping on foot or using a scooter?
    York: Rules 7 and 12a respectively.
    Ned Q. Sorceror: And yet, like the myopic Earthlings you are, you failed to ban teleportation.
  • Alt Text: One in every strip. Hover the mouse cursor over a strip to see it.
  • Animated Actors: When the authors miss a few updates, the game pieces "break character" to talk to the audience about the hiatus.
  • Anti-Climax: Gunpowder Jackson and Zantrok meet again after several arcs of build-up in Strip #278. Zantrok apologizes for embarrassing Gunpowder earlier. They both decide to let it go and move on with their lives.
  • Asymmetric Dilemma: The Unity refuses to be complicit in Stephen's scheme in theorem 147 because:
    Red/Blue Unity: We are one plumber, not three.
    Blue/Yellow Unity: And we are not a plumber.
  • Author Avatar: According to the webcomic's official FAQ page, Gibbs and Lockley are avatars for Diane and Lewis.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Green Grocer's spaceship, which only goes to the Moon. Not to the Moon and back, just to the Moon.
  • Back from the Dead: Bartleby brings Aorist back from the dead in Strip #300.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Stephen somehow managed to get elected Czar of Geography City, which is both an unelected position and one he made up.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality:
    • Sid and Stephen's morality is a strange example of this, in that the weirdness comes pretty much exclusively from one notion: buying groceries is the ultimate evil. Anything short of murder can be justified in their minds if it means that someone else will buy groceries for them, from demon-summoning to declaring yourself Czar and arresting random people.
    • Also, the Unity, who considers "preserving the balance" to be the only good. What exactly it's balancing is never made clear.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • The Green Grocer fits this so well that he could be considered a deconstruction. Almost everything he does is motivated by his desire to act like a supervillain.
    • Ned Q. Sorcerer and Demon-Jame are both quite fond of gloating about how horrifying they are and the destruction they will wreak upon mankind.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • From Diane's Notes in Strip #103:
      Fun Fact: If Sid's story wins a Newbery, it will be the first time the committee has given the award to a made-up work mentioned in a webcomic.
    • Similarly, from Lewis's Notes in 178:
      Many people may not know this, but Aorist is actually based on a person Ben and I made up.
  • Chew Toy / Butt-Monkey: Jame tends to suffer the most consequences from everyone else's schemes.
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: The Green Grocer's henchmen intentionally screw up their boss's plans because they know that super villains are supposed to be foiled by their own hubris.
  • Creepy Twins: The Unity is portrayed using three game pieces that are identical aside from their colours, and who act as a Hive Mind in-universe.
  • Dark Horse Victory: When Sid's reelection for Geography City's Czar comes up, York campaigns against him and seems to have much more public support. The votes are counted, and the winner is... Aorist's ghost (aka Blueteen). Because Czar isn't an elected position, so votes don't matter.
  • Deus ex Machina: Bartleby, Sid and Stephen's other roommate "who only exists in every hundredth strip", and always unilaterally resolves the current story arc.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: From the FAQ page:
    Why don't you look like your avatars, Gibbs and Lockley?
    Actually, we do look like them, they just don't look like us.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Unity appear in the background of Strip #43, six strips before their official introduction.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first strip showed Sid having a flashback to five years ago, and imagining himself and Stephen speaking in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. This is clearly shown as a sign of Sid being a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, and Stephen is confused by it. Later strips establish that this kind of altered memory is normal in the Terror Island-verse, and that it in fact takes some kind of supernatural force to cause people to remember things in any other way.
  • Evil All Along: Ally Cs, the incompetent reporter, is revealed in #282 to secretly be a super villain known as The Reportress.
  • Exact Words:
    • Liln has to call Sid a "privateer wordsmith" because she lost a bet; they were arguing over whether Pluto was the farthest planet, but both failed to specify what it was farthest from and so Sid clarified that he meant "farthest from Pluto".
    • In Strip #66, Sid tells Jame "don't panic, but there's a small chance that, through no fault of my own, I may have summoned a demon into you". He definitely summoned a demon, it's just there's a small chance it wasn't his fault.
    • From Strip #27:
      York: Stephen, your word is "Camelopard".
      Stephen: Can you use it in a sentence?
      York: Almost certainly.
      Stephen: Sorry, will you use it in a sentence?
      York: Probably not. It isn't a very common word.
    • In Strip #162, the Green Grocer responds to the others not wanting to hear his story with "alright, but if you don't want to hear my story, you won't get to hear about werewolf valkyries". He was telling the truth, he just omitted the fact that they wouldn't get to hear about werewolf valkyries either way.
    • In Strip #243, Sid asks Jame "If I don't know anything about skating boards, then how do you explain my undefeated record?"
      Jame: I give up. How?
      Sid: Oh, easy. I've never entered any competitions before.
    • Ned Q. Sorcerer uses this to win the skateboarding competition a few strips later. The rules say that anyone who jumps across or uses a vehicle of any kind is disqualified for not using a skateboard, but there's nothing in them saying that anyone who teleports across is disqualified for not using a skateboard.
    • "Aorist's ghost" wins the election for Czar. No, this isn't the bodiless spirit of the recently-deceased Aorist—this is a ghost named Blueteen who used to be Aorist's pet.
    • Stephen brings Panther, the Jungle Spirit, with him on a camping trip to the woods, assuming that his nature expertise will help them. Panther points out that he only knows about jungles, and he's just as lost as everyone else when it comes to temperate forests.
    • On the comic's website, the "Cast" page contains background information on the board game pieces used to represent the characters. "Cast" refers to the actors — if you want to find information on the in-universe characters, you should go to the "Dramatis Personae" page.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Strip 75 has Liln, York and First Folio attempting to banish Demon-Jame. They have everything they need except toothpaste when he traps them in a force-field, leading to this:
    Liln: OK, this isn't too bad. We just need to call Sid and Stephen, and have them get the the grocery store.
    First Folio: We're doomed!
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Although the writers didn't expect to be able to carry the grocery plot on for so long.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Parodied in Strip #158.
    Stephen: Demon-Jame did not just kill Aorist. He couldn't have.
    Sid: Your denial is making me angry.
    Stephen: I'll stop being in denial if you bring him back from the dead.
    Sid: I'm worthless, I can't even resurrect my best friend.
    Stephen: Man, I guess he really is dead.
    York: Guys, the stages of grief don't work when you're trying to rush through them.
  • Future Slang: Parodied; everyone talks like this when Stephen imagines the future, even if he's imagining less than a day into the future. Considering he also imagines people in the past (five years ago) talking in weird antique English, this isn't out of character...
  • Grand Finale: In the end, Sid and Stephen both bought groceries first.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • The Alt Text for Strip #35 says that Omicron went on many adventures in-between strips 33 and 35 which we may one day learn of.
    • There are also two CotEU graduates named Sidra and Stephanie who have been indulging in Zany Schemes similar to those of Sid and Stephen, except their argument is over who has to do the dishes.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Sid and Stephen resort to a lot of very shady tactics to win the competition, like when Sid tried to summon a demon to possess Stephen and force him to buy groceries, or when Stephen became Czar of Geography City and first tried to arrest Sid for not buying groceries, then began convicting random people of Sid not buying groceries.
  • Honor Before Reason: Blueteen is willing to incarcerate himself for a victimless crime to uphold the rule of law.
  • I Just Write the Thing: Parodied. The writers claim that their theorems are logically derived from universal axioms and they have no control over their content.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Every character is a master of this. For example, in one strip Jame asks Stephen for somewhere he can go to avoid Gunpowder Jackson, and Stephen suggests Sid's secret room down the hall. Jame says he should ask Sid first, but Stephen replies that if he did that, it wouldn't be a secret.
  • Insistent Terminology: The "Cast" page on the website contains information about the game pieces portraying each of the characters. If you want information about the characters, that's on the "Dramatis Personae" page.
  • Judgment of Solomon: Parodied. Stephen attempts to settle a dispute over a stolen lawnmower in one strip. However, both claimants know the story already and so they both say to give it to the other. Stephen then decides to give them both the whole thing.
  • Mind Screw: Jame hosted a fake grand opening for his restaurant and got Aorist to appear as a fake food critic. Aorist then got his fake review published in an imaginary magazine (they gave it 5i stars), which then attracted two imaginary people who somehow actually came to the restaurant, ordered foods that didn't exist and then got them, and paid using actual money in accordance with an imaginary law.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: When Stephen visits Center of the Earth University, he ends up getting mistaken for Ned Q. Sorcerer and having to deliver a presentation on himself.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In Strip #73, Demon-Jame attempts to blight Aorist's crops, but ends up just killing the weeds in his garden.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Parodied in Lewis's notes for Strip #2, by using it as a form of Captain Obvious in a strip that featured no animals in the first place:
    No animals were harmed in the making of this strip. Unless Ben or I ate while we were making it. And, then the animals weren't harmed in the making of the strip so much as before the making of the strip.
  • Non-Answer: From Strip #164:
    First Folio: What? How the hey does killing Jame help preserve the balance?
    Unity: Imagine that the two halves of the universe rest on a giant seesaw.
    First Folio: Okay.
    Unity: We hope that has made everything clear to you.
  • Nonindicative Name:
    • Unless you count the kitchen "island" and the terror of living with a roommate.
    • Ned Q. Sorcerer, a.k.a "The Obvious Dentist", is neither a sorcerer nor a dentist.
    • Centre of the Earth University is located on the surface of the Moon.
  • The Nothing After Death: After getting killed by the demon, Aorist winds up in a featureless blue plane, with just a disembodied voice to keep him company.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: When Demon-Jame first appeared, all he did was kill the weeds in Aorist's garden and trap some people in a cage before being banished while he was distracted pointing out the flaws in Stephen's logic. He returns later and kills Aorist.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: When Stephen becomes Czar, he immediately tries to create a law requiring Sid to buy the groceries. But the Czar's laws don't go into effect unless the Public Notary signs off on them. And the Public Notary turns out to be Sid.
  • Only Sane Man: Jame, whose most common role is to constantly make logical complaints and rational suggestions that are never listened to. And even he has his moments.
  • Oxymoronic Being:
    • The Obvious Dentist's superpower is that everyone knows he's a dentist. He's not a dentist, but everyone still knows he is.
    • Jamezu is the wine steward at Famous Jame's, a restaurant that doesn't serve wine.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Exaggerated with Ally C's disguise as The Reportress. The only difference is that The Reportress doesn't wear glasses, whereas Ally C doesn't wear contacts.
  • Parody Sue: Bartleby. Every time he shows up, he instantly solves all the problems the other characters are dealing with. His only weakness is that he only exists when the current strip number is a multiple of 100.
  • Photo Comic: The strips all consist of photos of board game pieces with dialogue tags added.
  • Previously on…: Strip #42 is a recap of previous strips, with the dialogue altered to Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
  • The Rant: Both creators write commentaries of varying length at the bottom of each comic.
  • Riddling Sphinx:
    • Discussed. Sid almost manages to persuade Stephen to buy groceries by telling him that Sphinxes will accept groceries as a substitute for solving riddles. However, York convinces Sid to let him try a different plan, so Sid admits to Stephen that it was a trick.
    • Discussed again later. When Demon-Jame attempts to trap Sid with a riddle, Sid points out to him that this kind of trap is supposed to be used by Sphinxes, not demons. This turns out to be the answer to the riddle.
  • Smurfing: York tries replacing random words with his own name in his sentences for a while, starting here
  • Spelling Bee: York gets Sid and Stephen to compete in a spelling bee to determine who has to buy groceries. Includes the archaic "Camelopard", the word "iufjeme" (the definition of which is "contains a silent f before the j"), and the "null word".
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The Alt Text for Strip #3 says "Sid's plan is not a statement about American consumerism."
  • Tag Line: a lot, listed here
    distinct from everything, including itself
    remarkably popular in Norway
    the photocomic that's not a photocomic
    the universe's only logically necessary comic
    inexplicable title, hilarious cast page
    serious gamepieces, serious photocomic
    "I have nothing against picture comics."
    we put the wink in tiddlywinks
    the webcomic that takes place on a dude's sink and has chess pieces
    six of one, two dozen of the other.
    intelligent and perhaps even educated
    Guys I honestly did not want to like this comic
    actually has nothing to do with terror and is not set on an island
    "I'm not sure why it's called Terror Island."
    Holla mine brothers and sister over internet space!
    "some photos of chess pieces don't want to buy groceries?"
  • Unusual Pop Culture Name: First Folio's parents were obviously big William Shakespeare fans.
  • Voodoo Shark:
    • Played for Laughs and Lampshaded in one strip.
      Liln: It's been a long time since you guys went shopping. Why haven't you starved to death yet?
      Sid: Now that Stephen's the Czar, people have been sending tributes. Some of them are edible or near-edible.
      Liln: But Stephen's only been Czar for a few days.
      Sid: Aorist sent the stuff back in time.
      Liln: Wait, what?
      Sid: Oh, right. I mean forward in time.
      Liln: That wouldn't work.
      Sid: What, and you think going back in time would?
    • Another Played for Laughs example occurs in Strip #37, when Jame asks how Center of the Earth University doesn't melt from the heat at the centre of the earth. York explains that "Center of the Earth University" is a Non-Indicative Name — the university is actually located on the surface of the Moon.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: The Obvious Dentist. His power is that people know that he's a dentist. He's not a dentist, but people still know he is. We later find out he actually also has the ability to teleport, but that's either sleight-of-hand or is not considered a power in his home universe.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Similar to the Future Slang gag, the characters always use flowery, alliterative, pseudo-Shakespearean English in flashbacks, even if said flashback is five seconds ago.

Looks like somebody's been eating sour grapes.