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Webcomic / Used Books

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Used Books is an online graphic novel created by Vickie Boutwell.

Used Books is an ongoing crime drama with a mostly serious tone that centers around three women including a former assassin for an allegedly defunct criminal organization, a former police officer who brought down the organization, and a former college professor who lost her parents to the crime ring. The former assassin runs the bookstore, from which the comic derives its name.


Used Books began in February 2007 with daily updates on The Duck, very rough handdrawn art, and short episodes and is currently over 800 pages long, updating twice a week with full-color pages. It contains themes of friendships and family bonds strained by deceit and murder. The cast of Used Books is large and varied, but the plotlines usually are centered around one or more of the main three women.


This comic contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Raidon doesn’t just seem like a nice guy. He really is. He broods over people suffering. He gives to charity, and he is a kind host. But when he wants something, he gets it.
  • All Just a Dream: Seiko dreams she has died and meets her parents in the afterlife.
  • All-Loving Hero: Seiko goes out of her way to help dangerous people because she sees the good in them, even when they repeatedly attack or try to kill her.
  • Alone with the Psycho: This circumstance usually happens with Seiko or Mike.
  • Always Someone Better: Yuki might be one of the strongest people around, an escape artist and karate master, but she was bested by a convenient one-upper, a giant named Tim.
  • Brainy Brunette: Multiple PhDs, child prodigy, and brown hair. That’s Seiko.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: On a few occasions, Seiko becomes either delirious or passes out after a drink. She is rarely seen joining her friends in their alcoholic indulgences.
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  • City with No Name: The vast majority of the story is set in “the city.”
  • Cool Loser: Tristan falls into this trope too. He has even called himself a loser, but his occasional moments of total coolness seem to make up for it.
  • Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: Tristan employs this trope deliberately and gets away with it.
  • Death by Origin Story
  • Driven to Suicide: Flashbacks have revealed Fudo’s suicidal tendencies. He was prevented from following through by his friend Toyo.
  • Driven to Villainy: The main character Kaida and her ex-husband were forced to become killers.
  • Cute Kitten: Jiro’s a little big to be a kitten, but he steals every scene he’s in, and evoked anger and sympathy unparalleled when he was attacked by a villain(ess),
  • Faking the Dead
  • Friend on the Force: Good thing Brad is the childhood friend of Yuki. He can come in and make the arrests!
  • Friendship Moment: Used Books is oozing with these scenes.
  • Genre-Busting: At times, it seems to be a serious crime drama or mystery story, but frequently, plotlines slip into those of sitcom fare.
  • Gentle Giant: It isn't certain if Tim is an example of this trope or not. Although, he has done some nasty things (such as snap a girl's arm), he shows undertones of a sensitive side.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Seiko falls into this trope regularly and blames herself for many evils in the world.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Kaida hates her twin sister Violet so much that it drove her to run away from home to a life of crime. Violet is a successful and bubbly lawyer while Kaida is a cynical former assassin.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kaida and Yuki fit this trope perfectly. They are inseparable friends despite their quarrels. They might as well be a couple, except they aren’t romantic.
  • Implied Love Interest: This seems to start developing into actual love interests later in the story, but this trope is used a lot. Yuki and Brad, Seiko, and Tristan, and Toyo and Celes are the clearest examples.
  • I Have Brothers: Yuki attributes her impressive skills to growing up with five older brothers.
  • Instant Mystery, Just Delete Scene: The plot often skips between groups of people, sometimes generating the mystery.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Tiny but significant trinkets (jewelry, stuffed toys, etc.) seem to be regularly added to the story and come in handy at a later date.
  • Kudzu Plot: For every question answered and plot resolved, it seems that at least two more come up. Sometimes the new mysteries remain unaddressed for many chapters.
  • Mentor Archetype: Conrad appeared and seems to have become a mentor character for Tristan.
    • Conrad talks to Tristan about his relationship.
  • Odd Couple: You can group any two of the three main ladies into this category. By any logic, such friendships are odd.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Seiko seeks to unravel the mystery of her mother’s odd behavior and the reason her parents were killed.
  • Society Is to Blame: A few of the law breakers (but protagonists) are that way because of poverty and circumstance.
  • Pet the Dog: Raidon’s relationship with his dog Hecate is one of the only signs of his underlying humanity.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Yuki has no modesty. Brad points it out.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Seiko, the token genius, is one of the smallest characters in the story.
  • Shout-Out: Used Books frequently mentions or references literature.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Kaida’s whole family have a close resemblance. Seiko appears to be a brown-haired version of her mother. And Yuki’s brothers share the same skin, eye, and hair color.
  • Someday This Will Come in Handy: One character or another always seems to know some bit of random helpful info about any number of topics. For Seiko, it’s often explained as her schooling, while Kaida claims life experience.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: In Used Books, the murderers are often sympathetic. For example, when Mike killed a man unprovoked, the sympathy lies with him and not with the widow.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Seiko is often heard to say “Did you know my mother?” to anyone that she believes might have had a connection.
  • The Watson: Alex shows up early in the story. It seems that his main purpose is to interact with the main characters by evoking exposition, asking questions the audience wants to ask but the other characters can't.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Several entire chapters of Used Books are flashbacks.
    • Yuki’s wedding is recalled in chapter 52.
    • Toyo tells the story of his initiation into the crime syndicate in chapters 35 and 36.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Seiko, one of the main characters, has a nasty habit of thinking all people are basically good and getting herself in trouble for it.
    • This page shows her getting into an argument over the nature of a known villain.
    • Seiko stops mid-fight to bandage up a bad guy that one of her friends just wounded.
  • Write Who You Know: The main characters are based strongly on the author’s friends.


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