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Webcomic / The Class Menagerie

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The Class Menagerie is a shortlived Furry Comic by Vince Suzukawa taking place in a Wacky College. The cast ranges from the relatively normal Jerk Jock lion to the Ambiguously Gay Schedule Fanatic kangaroo. Much of the humor and appeal comes from the various characters' personalities interacting, whether it's them (reluctantly) working together or just rubbing the wrong way.

The comic can be found here, though the archives are a bit... scrambled. Luckily, most of the plotting doesn't require certain arcs to be read in order, just that they be read.

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This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Ain't No Rule: During the "Incognito" arc, both sides of the Forrest Tech/DeMontfort school rivalry invoke this during the mascot competition. Forrest build a huge mecha mascot. playing on the fact that there are no limitations on the mascot's costume as long as it reasonably resembles the school mascot. DeMontfort blows it wide open by exploiting the fact that while only one costume is allowed, you can have as many participants as you want as long as they only use one costume between them and still both look like the mascot. As DeMontfort's mascot is Gruff The Griffon, they can have two competitors on the field, with Brad wearing the mascot body but needing no mask, and Biff wearing the mask but not needing the body, with one wing each.
  • Alternate Universe: "Only Human" reveals that there's at least one alternate universe, consisting of human versions of the characters, featuring human Tony, Kevin, Brad, and Cindy. Vince has illustrated human versions of the other characters as well (on the FAQ page).
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  • Amoral Attorney: Well, Amoral Law Student, but let's just say Molina chose his future career well.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Scott's parents, at least in his opinion.
  • Anchovies are Abhorrent: Brad orders pizza in one strip, and successfully discourages Kevin from begging a slice from him by pointing out that the toppings are anchovies, feta cheese and pineapple (especially ironic considering that Kevin is an anthromorphic cat).
    Brad: If you're selfish, it helps to have exotic tastes!
  • Annoying Patient: Mikey comes down with a rather nasty cold during one storyarc, and has to spend a week on bed rest, which for an overachiever like him is like a jail sentence. The doctor prescribes him a Prozac treatment after Mikey yells into his stetoscope and then breaks down crying after the diagnosis. Humorously, Mikey has to keep going BACK to the doctor because the dorm mates well-meaning attempts at helping him keeps getting him injured; Scott's cold remedy was so strong it ate through the spoon and gave Mikey second degree burns on his foot, and he ended up getting food poisoning when Kevin forgot that kangaroos are herbivores and gave him some chicken soup.
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  • Anything That Moves: Implied with Kim Greenwald, the head cheerleader for the football team. She zeroes in on Tony just because he's a hunk, and seems to enjoy that she's making things difficult between him and Cindy.
  • Arch-Enemy: Brian Spottiswood to Mikey, due to Mikey almost causing him to flunk high school through his annoying demands as a lab partner.
  • Author Appeal: You'd be hard pressed to find a male character in the strip that isn't a statuesque Hercules with impeccably toned muscles.
  • Back Story: A few characters, such as Biff and Brad.
  • Badass Bookworm: In "Duet To Me", Mikey lays the smackdown on two guys that are twice his size. Evidently, all that exercise isn't just for show.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Lisa.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Tony and Cindy share their first kiss at the end of "My Funny Valentine".
    • Also, Kevin and Denise after the climax of "Nemeses".
  • Blatant Lies: In "Duet To Me", Mikey is cast in the lead for Slicked, a parody of Grease, and is excited because he claims he didn't make the cut at all when his high school did the same show. The readers are shown that he was actually cast as the Expy for the nerdy Eugene, and the whole thing was just a constant stream of humiliation.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Unsurprisingly, Biff turns out to have been one as a child, as shown in the flashbacks from "Biff-Ore And After", which was also a crossover with The Suburban Jungle.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Biff borders on mentally challenged in some cases, and is kept from flunking out due to his wealthy family's contributions from the school, but he is THE best football player they have, and it's implied he's one of the better players on the college scene overall.
  • California University: Fictional DeMontfort University. The author had to clarify that it's not at all inspired by the real institute of the same name in the UK.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Scott. Ironically, he has no problem attracting women when he doesn't act like a chauvinistic jackass, but he seems to think that's how a playboy is supposed to act.
  • Catching Some Z's: Brad snores like a rusty chainsaw, and his sleep noises are often illustrated as such. On one occasion, a sleep-deprived Kevin tried to suffocate him with a pillow.
  • Cats Are Mean: The main cast has two feline characters; Kevin, who's a rather caustic Deadpan Snarker and prankster, and Biff, who's a Jerk Jock and Dumb Muscle of the highest order.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: While some of the storylines go way overboard because Rule of Funny, the comic does get unexpectedly dark at times, especially towards the very end when Lisa overhears how Mikey really feels about her, which upsets her into running off downtown... only to get assaulted and nearly raped by two burly drunk dudes. This also applies in cases like Brad revealing his self-loathing which stems from his very poor relationship with his father; what started out as Kevin trying to get more comedic blackmail material on him ended with him being Brad's Secret-Keeper.
  • Coming-Out Story: Mikey in "Duet to Me". He only comes out to Lisa though.
  • Crossover: Twice, with Funny Farm in the "Occupied" arc, and Suburban Jungle in "Biff-ore And After", which also explains what caused the damage to the third floor of the dorm.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Surprisingly, Brad hopes to become one of these.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Brad. He's the son of a corrupt banker from Texas, and is studying law in the hopes of one day preventing others from abusing the legal system and the public trust like his father did. The reason he wears his cap everywhere is that both he and his father have a rooster comb, which is rare and makes him and his father look almost identical.
  • A Degree in Useless: Unlike the other characters, Tony doesn't actually have a major, and is essentially doing a General Studies degree, which is widely considered the worst possible choice for a college degree, even over comedy staples like Philosophy or Art.
    • Biff doesn't have one either, and unlike Tony, usually doesn't even bother attending class. He'd have flunked out three strips into the comic if it wasn't for his football skills and wealthy family. In one comic, he shows up at Lisa's French class because he needs the Foreign Language credits - he assumed that a language where you can't pronounce half the words would only require half the effort.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Dani is fond of these, she tends to resort to violence for even the most minor infractions.
    • On a less humorous note, Spottiswood does this towards Mikey. Yes, Mikey was a real pain in the ass, but everything Brian does to get revenge on him borders on assault at best and attempted murder at worst.
  • Does Not Like Men: Dani comes off as this on occasion due to her role as pretty much the sole authority in Richter Hall, and with the majority of the trouble being caused by the male characters.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Zig-Zagged - Brad, Scott and Lisa are almost always shown wearing footwear (Brad is shown barefoot in one very early comic), Kevin switches between bare feet and sandals, Mikey only wears utility footwear, such as snowboots or his trademark inlines, and otherwise goes barefoot. Dani, Biff, Tony and Cindy are always barefoot (in the latter two's case it's because they have hooves, not feet.)
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Tony is a combination of this trope, owing to him only recently having gained a serious muscle bulk, and being extremely clumsy. It's caused quite a bit of damage.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The comic adheres to the old Peanuts idea that girls hitting boys is funny, and it's mostly played straight. Dani especially is this trope all over, resorting to cartoonishly hitting the male characters for real or imagined slights. Female characters receiving any sort of physical injury that's played for laughs can be counted on one hand.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Kevin, getting a ride from him is a nerve-wracking endeavor, to the point where it becomes a Running Gag. Exaggerated when he's the driver for a ski-trip he, Tony, Mikey, and Scott take over winter break sophomore year and they have to deal with his reckless driving hundreds of miles up a mountain.
  • Dramedy
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Scott's parents call him "Sprout". He ends up bribing Brad to keep it from being spread around campus.
  • Expy:
    • Brad looks like Falco Lombardi with the blue and red skin colors swapped.
    • DeMontfort University is based on UC Berkeley, Suzukawa's alma mater.
  • Extreme Doormat: Tony, he's virtually incapable of asserting himself, and he's aware of it too, but he has difficulty growing past it. He's improved somewhat by the end of the series, at least when sufficiently motivated.
  • Fanservice: Mostly involving the male cast, though "Beach Blanket Bungle" and "Poker Strips" have something for everybody.
  • Faking the Dead: Ryan and Michelle fake their deaths at the end of Duet To Me and run off to get married under new names
  • Farce: "My Funny Valentine". Otherwise avoided.
  • Fat Bastard: Molina, a law student and one of the top football players at DeMontfort. He's also a Smug Snake Jerkass who manipulates people for his own benefit.
  • Formerly Fat: Tony used to be very overweight, as shown in flashbacks. He picked up weightlifting and football in the last few years of high school, giving him his current muscular physique, but he still deals with serious confidence and self-image issues, to the point that he doesn't even like looking at himself in mirrors.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Biff, due to his enormous ego and Jerkass tendencies, and Mikey, due to his moralizing and grating perfectionism.
  • Friendly Enemy: Algernon. He's the closest the series had to a Big Bad, attacked the dorm with a giant mecha and almost demolished the football stadium, but outside of the ramped-up school rivalry that caused those events, he's a surprisingly genial person, even to his enemies.
  • Furries Are Easier to Draw: The FAQ gives a detailed explanation of why the cast are all furry. The main point is that animal faces can be more expressive (ears can move, fur can bristle etc). Also, it creates a comfortable divide from the real world, and problems of racial balance or resemblance to persons living or dead. Vince Suzukawa also demonstrates that he can draw humans and make his characters work in human form. Not to say it's not fun to violate Animal Stereotypes. Like when a mouse bullies a bull.
  • Furry Comic
  • Gayngst: Mikey reveals that he suffers from some pretty heavy self-image issues due to his closeted homosexuality. Part of his obsessive studying and working out is to distract himself from any possible free time that could lead to an attraction. His theatrical talents are due to him trying to get close to attractive female leads hoping it would change his mind, but he wasn't able to make it work. He's also afraid of proving anyone "right" that the high strung, effeminate guy turned out to be gay. It all adds up to him telling himself to Stop Being Stereotypical, which doesn't end with his coming out to Lisa since while he may now fully accept that part of himself, he still doesn't seem any closer to changing anything else about how he handles it.
  • Gender Equals Breed: Specifically, Vince had trouble drawing female lizards, so Scott's mother is a different species.
  • Genius Bruiser:
    • Scott, who is actually a Math Major and pretty much pulls out a square root of a large number on the spot. He's just not very open about it because, after all, he is a playboy.
    • Brad is also this—he's a law major.
  • Genki Girl: Lisa.
  • Gentle Giant: Tony.
  • The Glomp: How Lisa likes to greet Mikey. And any other male she finds cute. Some appreciate it more than others.
  • Groin Attack: Sam from Newshounds is on the receiving end of one of these when he gives a sexist diatribe to a personal trainer at the college gym.
  • Hidden Depths: Tony turns out to be a talented football player despite his reservations against joining the team. He's too slow to make an effective quarterback like Biff, but he's a great center player, and is virtually unstoppable once he puts all his focus into the game.
  • Incompatible Orientation: The real reason Mikey won't reciprocate with Lisa.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Cindy (horse) and Tony (bull), Lisa is a fox/dachshund hybrid who has a crush on a kangaroo (until he comes out) and is dating a bulldog by the end of the strip.
    • If you count guest appearances in other comics the closest Mikey has had to a relationship was with a member of his own species (for once).
    • On the other side, one piece of Fan Fic (SFW) that Word Of God has described as definitely non-canon (but still liked enough to actually illustrate it) has Mikey hook up with an otter.
  • Jerkass:
    • Brad, Kevin, Biff and Dani all get portrayed as this, though Brad and Kevin had their nice moments, but Biff's father is arguably the biggest jerkass of the entire cast.
    • Going into outright villainous territory we have Molina and Coach Carradine from the football team, both of whom makes Biff look like a boy scout. Carradine is a bullying Jerk Jock who basically pressgangs Tony into playing for DeMontfort, while Molina is a Smug Snake who psychologically tortures Tony to get him stressed and aggressive enough to become violent and reckless on the field.
  • Jerk Jock: Biff, Molina and Coach Carradine.
  • Left Hanging: The strip was hurriedly wrapped up in its last storyline, leaving several plot threads hanging, such as the future of Tony and Cindy's relationship, and what would happen to the cast afterwards. It also ends with the dorm splitting up, with Tony, Cindy, Kevin and Lisa finding off-campus housing and Brad transferring back home to Texas. Keep in mind that the story concludes with Sophomore Year, leaving quite a bit of story potential unresolved.
  • Mad Scientist: Algernon.
  • Missing Mom: In "Photo Finish", Brad reveals that his mother died when he was 4 and his father raised him by himself.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Brad and Scott are mistaken for gay by Scott's parents.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Duet To Me" goes from a lighthearted storyline about Mikey and Lisa playing the main characters in a Grease parody, to a dramatic coming out story for Mikey and Lisa almost getting raped by drunken fratboys.
  • The Moorcock Effect: Quite literally, with i.s.o. and its Cast Full of Gay, taking place not only at the same time and at the same university, but in the same dormitory building (albeit on a different floor).
  • Mr. Fanservice: Nearly every male cast member is this, but mainly Scott and Tony. In-universe both Tony and Mikey are considered to be this.
  • MST: Done in-universe by Kevin to Mikey's puppet show. He even replaces one of the puppets with Tom Servo.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Brad won't stay awake for long without a large dose of coffee or cola. He will literally fall asleep on the spot once the clock reaches zero. This gets a minor Cerebus Retcon when Kevin finds out his true identity, and it's revealed that his caffeine addiction began when he started pulling all-nighters to earn enough money by himself to go to college without relying on his fathers dirty money.
  • My Beloved Smother: Scott thinks of his doting mother as this. She's actually only slightly overprotective, but nowhere near bad enough to actually qualify for this trope.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Tony accidentally injures an opposing player while making the winning score during a football match, he has a minor breakdown.
  • Nice Guy: Tony.
  • Perfumigation: A cologne Biff wears, that he was tricked into buying by a saleswoman who he had been treating like crap, turns out to be so noxious that it's capable of killing insects, which comes in handy during the Resid-Ant Evil arc when the dorm is overrun by flesh-eating devil ants.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: A Running Gag in the series revolves around the faculty growing increasingly frustrated with the residents of the dorm due to all the damage they cause with their hijinks and other comical mishaps. An attempt by one of them to get some petty revenge by getting a couch misdelivered so they'd have to move it up three flights of stairs by themselves backfired because Kevins attempt at hoisting it up using a pulley system somehow managed to destroy the entire staircase.
    Clerk: They cost us a fortune! Repairs, false fire alarms, real fire alarms...
  • Punny Name: Nearly every major character's last name was a reference to their species. Some were more obvious than others.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Male version. A lifetime of mockery for being overweight until his late teens has led Tony to have serious body image issues, to the point where he's extremely reluctant to accept the attention his current Adonis-like looks give him. His crippling self-esteem issues caused by his controlling family don't help. Nor does the fact that for a bovine, being drooled over by girls of predator species gives an uncomfortable double meaning to the phrase "being treated like a piece of meat."
  • The Reveal: Michelle's mystery fiancé who's mentioned during "No Pain No Gain"? Ryan Spottiswood, the villain from the Bad Chemistry and Nemesis arcs.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Due to bad intel, Forrest Tech tailors their giant droid mascot to fend off another robotic opponent, such as EMP waves, water and magnetic weapons, giving Biff and Brad enough of an edge to outmaneuver a 50-foot robot armed with only their own athletic skill.
  • Romance Arc: Tony and Cindy were paired as romantic interests, and spend most of the strip's run dancing around each other before finally becoming romantically involved in "My Funny Valentine". Also, Lisa and Damon, who have an instant attraction when they first meet during "The Gridiron" three-parter, but don't officially hook up until the end of "Duet To Me" once Mikey finally spells it out for her that he's not the one for her. Finally, Kevin and Denise by the time the strip wraps up.
  • Schedule Fanatic: Mikey. Getting laid up with a bad cold for a week was enough to completely throw him off and send him into panic mode.
  • Secret Identity: Brad is actually Eric Hawthorne Jr, son of Eric Hawthorne, a corrupt banker and politician from Texas.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • Only Kevin knows who Brad's father is and why Brad's struggled for so long to get away from him.
    • Only Lisa knows Mikey isn't into girls.
  • She's Got Legs: Several characters remarks that Cindy has really attractive legs.
  • Ship Tease: Brad and Scott are Mistaken for Gay with much hilarity. Also, Dani and Kevin in one VERY early strip, though this didn't lead anywhere.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Mikey.
  • Spicy Latina: Danielle Rosalina "Dani" Murrieta is an example of the confrontational, tomboyish type.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: In-Universe: Mikey writes a puppet show titled Fun Is a Waste of Time and pretty much devotes his entire life to either exercising or studying. It all turns out to be his way of distracting himself from finding dudes attractive.
  • Straight Gay: Mikey. Kind of debatable since he does also admit to fulfilling the more effeminate gay stereotypes, which is part of what made him fearful of embracing his homosexuality since he didn't want to prove homophobes right.
  • Stripperiffic:
    • Earlier public drafts of TCM had some of the male characters regularly wearing considerably less, especially Brad in his shorts and tank top that left little to the imagination. But the final version of TCM has him wearing a full flannel shirt. This probably actually adds to his fanservice effect as the shirt leaves much more to the big tough guy image.
    • Subverted, and pointed out by the creator of Funny Farm in a guest strip, some characters actually worked in the reverse, with Scott's everyday clothing going from a button up shirt, to a black t shirt, to a tank top, as well as Biff ceasing to wear any shirts at all.
  • Sweet Tooth: Tony! He absolutely loves candy, which was probably a contributing factor to his previous weight problem. Coach Caradine was able to convince him to join the football team by offering him gourmet sweets he'd never be able to afford on a student budget. Tony's love of candy ended up becoming beneficial during the Resid-And-Evil arc, when the cast was able to use his candy stash to distract the ants for a crucial moment. Tony asked them to use one of him arms instead of giving up his sugar.
  • Team Mom: As the dorm's RA, Dani sees herself as this. Her charges mostly find her annoying and unnecessarily obsessed with school activities.
  • Trapped in Another World: The "Only Human" arc, where alternate versions of Tony, one human, one furry, switches places due to sharing an... interesting dream about their respective Cindys. Most of the story revolves around trying to figure out how to get back to their own universes, since, as Kevin points out, this must be a very rare occurence, since it'd happen all the time otherwise. The switch happens when each Tony is about to confess his love for his counterparts Cindy, matching eachothers thoughts perfectly.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Lisa for Mikey. But it's not mutual.
  • Walking Techbane: Brad. Every machine he touches that isn't related to making coffee will die in a spectacular manner. He doesn't even have to touch them. On one memorable occasion a microwave spontaneously exploded when he just mentioned it; it was trying to protect itself.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In the "No Thanks to You" arc, Brad gives Scott a reaming for his ungrateful behavior towards his family.
    • Damon delivers one of these (along with a sucker punch to the gut) to Mikey when he's more concerned about continuing rehearsal than going after the despondent Lisa who just overheard Mikey say that he thinks she's overbearing and obsessive.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Mikey is terrified of insects of any kind, even harmless ones such as ants or flies. It even extends to things that just looks like insects, such as Algernon's giant ant drones from the "Nemeses" arc. This becomes a serious issue during "Resid-Ant Evil", when Mikey is necessary for the plan to stop the devil ants, as only he and Cindy are both athletic and slim enough to pull off the plan Kevin came up with, but he's almost out of his mind with fear during the entire story.
  • Worthy Opponent: Kevin sees Brad as this. When he explains this to Brad, their relationship noticeably improves. Kevin is also the only one who knows the truth about Brad's real identity and the reason for why he wears his trucker hat constantly.
  • Your Mom: Tony tells Brad and Kevin to stop using "your mom" insults against each other because "neither of you like your mothers". They immediately switch to "your roomie" jokes targeted at Tony—their mutual roommate.

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