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Webcomic / The Glass Scientists

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Cover of Chapter 3: At the Good Intentions Paving Company. Counterclockwise: The shadowed figure of Edward Hyde, Rachel Pidgley, Henry Jekyll, and Robert Lanyon

The Glass Scientists is an ongoing Gaslamp Fantasy webcomic about mad science, magical secrets, and monsters both within and without. It has a short stand-alone prequel, Bleeding Heart. The writer and artist is Sabrina Cotugno AKA Arythusa, who previously worked on Gravity Falls and as a director on Star vs. the Forces of Evil and The Owl House.

The city of London is not the best place to be a mad scientist. Thirty years after the death of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein, its citizens have gotten awfully good at killing creatures, destroying laboratories, and generally wrecking anything new or strange-looking. Soon, every scientist within city limits will find themselves behind bars, unless someone can turn their luck around, and fast.

This someone, it turns out, is a respected gentleman, an illustrious socialite who also happens to be a scientist himself. He believes that rogue science can survive — and thrive! — as he has, if only they could improve their reputation in the public eye – and he plans to give them one hell of an image makeover. Together with his Society for Arcane Science, he can end the reign of fear and superstition that has held London captive for decades so long as no one discovers his one little secret, a secret that could ruin him and unravel the lives of everyone he knows.

This man’s name is Dr. Henry Jekyll.

The Glass Scientists updates on Mondays, and the creator runs a blog for readers' questions and inspirational art.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Utterson, the narrator, viewpoint character, and Audience Surrogate in the original Jekyll and Hyde novel, will only appear as an Easter Egg as the author believes him to be redundant to the story.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Jekyll is highly prone to this, and wishes to instill such wonder in others. In some cases, such as his presentation of his pet Church Grim Zosimos, he succeeds.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Forty Elephants note , an all-female gang of thieves and swashbucklers feared by the inhabitants of London.
  • Audience Surrogate: The reader learns about the Society through Jasper, an overeager young mad scientist-turned-werewolf.
  • Bar Brawl: Hyde happily engages in fights in seedy establishments whenever he's out at night.
  • Big Eater: Jasper, as shown here and here.
    • Hyde is reportedly also one, to compensate for Jekyll's constant meal skipping.
  • Big Entrance: Jekyll has a four-page long one as he drives in The City Narrows in a shining coach pulled by magnificent white stallion accompanied by clouds of Bishie Sparkles. The entire crowd is staring in stunned silence even before he shows himself and starts chatting with the policemen like it's no big deal.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Both Jekyll and Hyde's reaction when they hear Lanyon's plan to put all blame on Hyde in order to get the Lodgers released from jail.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Jekyll, to the point that if he's speaking while not visible on-panel, his speech balloons will sparkle to denote that it's him talking.
    • Hyde also gets them when displaying his fancy cape to Rachel - a cape he tore up at the bottom like fashionably-ripped jeans.
    • Lanyon too emits sparkles when he exaggerates the posh manners of the upper-class.
  • Black Market: The Blackfog Bazaar, where a rogue scientist can get all ingredients they need, no matter how illegal they are. Jekyll doesn't visit it because of his, and its, reputation, and only gives into letting Hyde go after serious temptation. But events interfere and he can't go anyway.
  • Broken Pedestal: Frankenstein was Jekyll's childhood idol, and his inspiration to go into alchemy. When he meets her for the first time, his expectations shatter - she is rude, abrasive and accuses him of being a slut who sells out mad science for money and respectability.
  • Building of Adventure: The Society for Arcane Sciences is quite... eccentric compared to the rest of London.
  • Canon Foreigner: Jasper developed from a side character to this.
  • Clockwork Creature: Miss Flowers specializes in creating these. She can be seen creating a clockwork snail in her introductury panel. She even brings some of them to battle with Dr. Moreau.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything: Neo-alchemy can do basically anything. It can heal wounds, turn objects to gold, help werewolves retain their minds during transformation, create alternate personalities...
  • Chekhov's Gun: Rachel first appears covered in blood and holding a kitchen knife. The first time it's just to play a prank on Jekyll. Then the kitchen knife appears again, this time as she’s plunging it into the shoulder of one of Dr. Moreau's monsters, splattering it with blood.
  • The City Narrows: Bethnal Green, an infamous Victorian slum (which, once upon a time, was actually fields, hence the name), which Hyde describes as "The city's oily belly, a foul-smelling swamp belching half-digested dreams" where shadows and wickedness abounds. He, of course, loves it.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Jekyll's eyes and clothing accessories are red, whilst Hyde's are green - matching the colors of their respective transformation potions.
  • Cool House: The Society for Arcane Sciences is a Big Fancy House with a conservative outward facade based on the Royal College of Surgeons in London. However, it's hiding an architectural pit of various mad scientist technologies all competing for space. Sabrina Cotugno describes it as a "rogue science mullet" with "respectability in the front, madness in the back."
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: On the very first page, staring out of a sewer grate, courtesy of a nestful of soot-mice.
  • Death by Origin Story: Rachel’s little brother Eli dies in an accident before the events of the comic start, causing Rachel to be more overprotective over Hyde as a result.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After enduring Frankenstein's abuse, it is not until she belittles him after he successfully diagnoses her and makes the cure for her does Jekyll lose what little patience he has left, allowing Hyde to slip through and giving her a particularly spiteful "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Jekyll/Hyde: Maybe you're right. Maybe I am just a fraud. Maybe I'll never be a true, noble scientist like you. But where did all that nobility get you, in the end? Where did it get Elizabeth?
  • Everyone Is Bi: Sabrina (who is, herself, bisexual) stated this is the case on her blog, while Jekyll and Hyde are Bi/Pansexual, respectively.
  • Extranormal Institute: The Society for Arcane Science has all markings of being one.
  • Fainting: Happens to Jekyll in chapter XIII, just as he's about to give a big, important speech. This is probably a combination of exhaustion and Hyde doing something behind the scenes, but reads almost like a heart attack.
  • Fantastic Science: Essentially what every mad scientist studies.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Downplayed; Lanyon's father is pulling his funding for the Society, as he won't support an expensive project with a bad public reputation.
    • Eventually averted, as it turns out that Lanyon lied about his father's motivations for pulling the funds. The actual reason is that Robert called it blood money; esentially prompting his father to withdraw the funds in spite. Or so he says.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The TGS-universe is a place where basically All Myths Are True and all kinds of pseudoscientific theories are legitimate scientific fields of study. You can also expect to run into various figures from Victorian horror and sci-fi literature. Aside from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you'll also meet Mr. Griffin, the Invisible Man, Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature, and Dr. Moreau. And of course, there are all sorts of fantastical creatures, from biblical monsters like the Leviathan, to several kinds of werewolves, to small critters like the mud Phoenix and soot mice.
  • Fictional Field of Science: Everyone of the Lodgers specialize in one particular field. There's cryptobiology, neo-alchemy, and experimental candymaking, among others.
  • Gilligan Cut: Lanyon worries about how the play "Mad Galvinist" right across the street from the Society of Arcane Sciences might influence people with its anti-science-message. Jekyll brushes this off as it is only a play, "how bad could it be?" Cue the next page, where a shocked Jekyll, while watching the play had to concede that it really is bad and could affect people's opinion.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom:
    • The werewolf. Subverted when it turns out that it's not trying to bring about doom, just escaping from a Torches and Pitchforks mob.
    • The Leviathan skeleton also seems to have these. If it's ever fully reanimated, that will probably be a sign of certain doom.
    • Again subverted with Frankenstein's creature. His eyes glow in the dark, and people are running away from him, but he isn't doing anything particularly threatening.
  • Grand Theft Me: After being trapped in Jekyll's mind for two weeks, Hyde figures out a way to nab control for himself by taking advantage of Jekyll's slip ups from stress. This gives him free reign of their shared body, allowing him to consume the potion to become himself. Unfortunately, a livid Jekyll later works out how to perform the trick for himself and takes over Hyde's body, vowing to lock Hyde up in his subconscious permanently.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: Ladies and gentelmen, the lab where Jekyll first made his potion. It is gloriously stacked with glass, and the glass is gloriusly full of bubbling, colourful liquids. Mad, erm, Rouge Science at its finest!
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Jekyll is an amazing dog person, regardless of whether the dog is alive, a Church Grim or a werewolf.
  • Incoming Ham: Lanyon enters the comic and the Society VERY LOUDLY!
  • Inner Monologue: Hyde narrates the opening three pages of the comic, and tends to monologue whenever he's out having fun at night.
  • Island of Misfit Everything: The Society of Arcane Science is a haven in London built by Dr. Henry Jekyll to house and support people who stock and trade in eclectic Magic-Powered Pseudoscience (like Steampunk engineering, crypto-biology, ectoplasmic pathology, experimental confectionism, etc.), the world outside too hostile towards "rogue science" after the events of Frankenstein occurring.
  • It's Always Sunny at Funerals: Eli’s funeral is on a sunny day.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Jekyll keeps a respectable front in public while Hyde is let loose to act on his whims. Both sides know everything they worked for will fall apart if their secret gets out.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Frankenstein is a terrible, terrible jerkass, with her own share of dribbling Idiot Ball, but she's right on two points (so far): one, that Jekyll's dualist theory of human psyche is ridiculous; and two, that he's losing himself in his work, neglecting everything else. Mind, she actually approves of that, as it befits a proper Mad Scientist.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: A giant Leviathan skeleton hangs from the ceiling of the atrium of the Society. The scientists aren't quite sure if it's actually the biblical beast or more of an Eldritch Abomination - but they're pretty sure it's not completely dead.
  • Less Embarrassing Term: Dr. Jekyll prefers the term "Rogue Scientist" to "Mad Scientist."
  • Mad Scientist: Though the general public fears mad scientists, Dr. Jekyll is keen on rebranding them as beneficial and harmless—Rogue Scientists, if you will. Mad Science is The Society for Arcane Science's bread and butter. Also, Jasper is a nascent Mad Scientist himself.
  • Mental World: Hyde retreats into what appears to be the interior of an infinite mansion house filled with Jekyll's memories, after being put under "house arrest", per se, for accidentally blowing up a street whilst attempting to stop Dr. Moreau.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self / The Shadow Knows: Jekyll and Hyde can manifest in each other's reflections and shadows, depending on who's in charge.
  • Mistaken for Romance: The Society lodgers are confident that Jekyll and Hyde are not only two people, but also lovers. No word on Jekyll's opinion on the subject, but apparently Hyde gleefully supports the misconception.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Jekyll and Hyde fit this in different ways, with Jekyll heading a movement to safely manage the affairs of supernatural creatures, while Hyde is utterly enthralled with the atmosphere of the seedy underbelly of London.
  • Not Himself: At one point, Hyde manages to take control of Jekyll to verbally chew out Frankenstein. Jekyll is surprised at his own strange behaviour.
    • Later in the same chapter, while Jekyll is at an emotional low point, Hyde manages to take control of Jekyll for a moment and ends up hitting Lanyon. To Lanyon, this is so out of character that he isn't even sure how to react at first.
  • No More for Me: When Hyde first sees the Creature, his first thought is that he must have overdone the absinthe.
  • Monster Mash: Downplayed, but Dr. Jekyll, a werewolf, and Frankenstein's monster are all in the same city together and are later joined by Dr. Moreau and his hybrid monsters.
  • Motifs: Facades. Metaphorical facade of respectfulness maintained by Jekyll is the central one, but the motif recurrs, for example when he explains to Jasper how presentation matters, using his own beautiful lab cabinets (filled with bottles of deadly poisons) as an example.
  • No True Scotsman: Frankenstein accuses Jekyll of not being a "true scientist" frequently, claiming that he "slavishly ape[s] the work of others" when brewing his medicines and that he only treated her not out of hippocratic duty, but just to uphold his reputation to a society that no "true scientist" would be caught dead in.
  • Purple Prose: Hyde, while narrating, waxes poetic about the vicious, cutthroat slums of London.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When Hyde is confronted by Frankenstein's Monster he attempts to put on his standard Cockney accent. While drunk on absinthe.
    Hyde: Oi! Wodder yew lookin' at? Yew gotta problem wit' me? I'll fight ye, just yew watch!
    The Creature: Good lord, what is that? Are you trying to do some kind of Cockney Accent?
    • This also happens to Jekyll, when he's exhausted from lack of sleep. His native Glasgow accents slips out.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolves in the TGS-verse look roughly lupine, except they’re much larger than regular wolves and even people. Their front paws are more akin to human hands, while their hind feet have long toes like rats. There’s also a difference between recently turned and older werewolves, who tend to look more bestial in their human form and live apart from human society.
    • Jasper's werewolf form is also different due to what Jekyll calls the worst case of wolfsbane poisoning he's ever seen. The transformation occurs on any night where the moon is visible and causes rapid shifts between various levels of human and wolf forms.
    • Morcant on the other hand is an old werewolf with life-span, stretching out over centuries. Her kind usually live in packs and stay out of human society. According to the creator, were she ever to meet Jasper, she'd consider him a tiny baby and he'd be terrified of her.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Inverted with Jekyll - it's him who has red eyes, not Hyde. It's green eyes you should be worried about.
  • Red/Green Contrast: Jekyll's eyes and clothing accessories are red, whilst Hyde's are green - matching the colors of their respective transformation potions.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hyde and Jekyll. Hyde is energetic, extrovertic Red, while Jekyll, an image of politeness and self-control, is Blue. Ironically, their color schemes are reversed, with Jekyll wearing red and having red eyes, while Hyde has eyes and clothes of green (not blue, but a cool color nonetheless).
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Frankenstein remarks that Dr. Jekyll is "rotten on the inside". She makes these remarks because she thinks he is a Villain with Good Publicity, having no knowledge of Hyde.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: A larger theme in the story represented by the conflict between Frankenstein and Henry Jekyll.
    • Frankenstein represents Romanticism. She possesses a powerful passion for her studies that overrides her common sense. She is against traditional, bureaucratic methods of the scientific community and encourages the lodgers to leave the safe conditions of their labs and explore the world. She was even responsible for single-handedly ruining the general public's trust in science due to her mad experiments and seems to take pride in it (even if such a lifestyle is what made her so violently ill in the first place), her hatred for Jekyll stemming from his desire to make it Safe, Sane, and Consensual when it should be scary to the ignorant. Jasper even refers to her as a "Romanticist", comparing her to the idealistic rich-men that would glorify his family's poverty and leave their comfortable lives for the "purity of nature", only to nearly die due to their lack of survival skills.
    • Jekyll represents The Enlightenment. While Frankenstein believes that science is meant to make the ignorant fearful, Jekyll believes in the inherent goodness in deconstructing the unknown, creating a bureaucratically-funded institution for researchers of fringe science with the intent of regaining the general public's trust. With that said, his attempts to uphold this idealized system is shown to wear on him, turning him to drink and forcing himself to hide behind a facade that contradicts his beliefs (he's an agnostic pretending to be Anglican), his tastes (he goes to high-brow operas for conversation, but he actually prefers low-brow penny-dreadful plays), even his own nationality (he speaks in an RP accent while he's from Glasgow). Even his own belief in science betrays him in the form of Hyde, the product of an experiment gone wrong that embodies his own repressed id that torments him in his every waking moment.
  • Science Is Bad: A common belief in the setting. There's even a theatre play subtitled "Beware the destructive power of science!"
  • Shadow Archetype: While Jekyll's dualist theory of human psyche was there in the book, Frankenstein seems to be quite right to dismiss it as a load of bull. Instead, it's strongly hinted that Hyde is Jekyll's Shadow Archetype, everything he doesn't want to be - embodied.
  • Shout-Out: This version of Carmilla is a member of the Karnstein Coven.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Hyde makes a rather big deal out of how much he hates Lanyon's 'stupid chubby cheeks'.
  • Take That!: The theatre play warning of the dangers of science is one to the Universal Frankenstein (1931) movie as well as adaptations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that add love interests, particularly the Jekyll & Hyde musical.
  • Talking to Themself: Hyde, as seen here, argues with Jekyll as a peeved conscience.
  • Technicolor Magic: Jasper's wolfsbane poisoning manifests in light purple foam at his mouth.
  • Technicolor Science: The Society lives by this trope, but particularly Jekyll's transformation potion with a Sickly Green Glow.
  • Teleportation Misfire: The society apparently has a teleporting cat, and going by poor thing's expression and place of landing, it doesn't really control it.
  • The Unmasqued World: Church Grims and werewolves are par for the course and the story of Doctor Frankenstein is a well-known scandal that had tarnished the reputation of Science.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Jekyll brings this up to Jasper and remarks that it's an easy way to get pegged a mad scientist.
  • Through His Stomach: Rachel lovingly bakes a batch of cookies for Jasper (several of which are stolen by Hyde).
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A mob convenes to attack the werewolf in record time. One person actually brings knitting needles to the fray.
  • Transformation Sequence: Jekyll transforms into Hyde in Chapter 3, Page 14.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: As seen here, in Bethnal Green.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Both Frankenstein, who constantly berates and condescends to Jekyll, despite his efforts to help her - and the lodgers once she persuades them that the Society is holding them back and that they could survive on passion alone and they all decide to stop working on their presentations and abandon Dr. Jekyll. The only one who sticks by him is Jasper, something Jekyll appreciates.
  • Upper-Class Twit: One of the reasons why Jasper isn't as impressed with Frankenstein's Romantic lifestyle as the other lodgers is because he and his family have encountered posh, city types much like her that think they could forgo their comfortable lifestyles for the "purity of nature", only for their lack of survival skills to nearly kill them off as nature dictates.
  • Unreliable Expositor: This is quite subtle, but when the characters (especially Lanyon) recount something, their recounts tend to be colored by their feelings about the matter. For example, it's not that Lanyon lies about his father cutting the funds, he just interprets the fact much more harshly that it really was.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Alice Liddel was depicted as a logical but otherwise sweet kid in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Here she hosts the Looking-Glass Circus in the Blackfog Bizarre and is demanding monetary retribution for Hyde's antics alongside Carmilla and a Nameless High Priest.
    Alice: We'd havta make an example outta you, wouldn't we?
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: You get a full view of Frankenstein spewing blood all over poor Jekyll.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: The Lodgers bring a diverse range of weapons to the battle with Moreau, each pertaining to their areas of rogue science. Ms. Flowers brings her mechanical insects, Mr. Sinnet brings a flamethrower, Helsby has a harpoon, Maijabi unleashes ghosts from a bottle, and Mr. Bird brings a potted plant. In addition Rachel, the cook, brings a large kitchen knife and Mr. Hyde brings an umbrella.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The policemen (and the crowd) argue that a werewolf is more an animal than a human.