Younger Days is a web comic strip on DeviantArt written and illustrated by Fernando from Mexico who goes by the user name of "dcrisisbeta" on DA.
The comic strip tells stories which revolve around two main child characters, Sam and Max, who are cousins but who live as siblings with Sam's mother because Max's parents died in an accident some time in the past. Max still misses them very much, especially around the anniversary of their deaths.
The comic strip deliberately pays homage to the Peanuts cartoons by Charles Shultz while not attempting to copy their style.
Fernando struggles with depression in real life, and this struggle is often reflected in Max's repressed Survivor Guilt.
The main characters:
- Max: Small for his age (9 but looks closer to 4).
- Sam: Max's cousin. Loves to tease Max, but also loves him and tries to take care of him.
- Mom: Cares very deeply for both her charges and does everything within her ability to care for them.
- Dan: Always wears a black "hoodie" which hides his face from the reader.
- Jowy: (Actually Joey but his name is always pronounced as though spelled phonetically).
- Bill: Once a bully to Max, Bill is jealous of Sam and Max because of the mother-love they get.
- Mark: Bill's best friend and some-time mediator to prevent his worst outbursts.
- Lili: Has a not-so-secret crush on Max.
- Alex: Lili's little brother, who looks amazingly like a miniature Max.
- Ivan: A new character recently added to the strip. He's Bill's new adopted brother, an extremely shy, socially awkward boy.
- Anne: Another new member to the cast, she can easily be called a free spirit who's latched onto Max and Sam as her new friends.
Needs some serious Wiki Love!
Younger Days provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: It is eventually revealed that Dan's biological father was physically abusive to him, and that whatever he's hiding under his hoodie is the last thing his father did to him before finally getting kicked out of the house.
- Ivan also seems to have suffered various types of abuse from his mother, who, by his own admission, never allowed him to have toys (instead wanting him to just study) and usually tossed away his gifts on mother's day, he also has a lot of scars all over his body and suffers from very frequent nightmares.
- Adult Fear: Present even if the main cast doesn't recognize it. Currently there's a shadowy figure in the neighborhood that surreptitiously watching the kids. An innocuous comment from Jowy has tipped off the parental guardians to his/her presence.
- Art Evolution: From its inception to the present, dcrisisbeta has quite obviously refined his characters' looks and the background details very well.
- Baths Are Fun: several comics feature Max and Sam enjoying baths together.
- Berserk Button: A surprising one given its intensity, but Dan does not like people pulling off his hood. He got so angry when Bill did it, his anger actually intimidated the bigger boy into backing down.
- Big Brother Instinct: Not gender specific, but any of the designated older siblings take great pains to watch out for their younger ones. This is very well seen between Dan and Jowy, who aren't even related.
- Inverted with Bill and Ivan. Ivan is the older brother, but Bill seems quite happy to have a sibling and is bending over backwards to make Ivan feel welcome.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Bill in a nutshell.
- Captain Oblivious: Bill can come across as this, something he's trying to fix.
- Cheerful Child: While perfectly capable of having his bad days, Max, and indeed quite a few of his costars, fulfill this trope quite admirably considering their backstories.
- Clothing Damage: Of the non-fanservice kind. Since they're kids, it is one inevitable, but these two take it to an art form.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Jowy has shades of this, though new character Anne may outdo even him.
- Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: To keep Jowy's self injury to a minimum, this is what Dan gets to be.
- Christmas Episode / Halloween Episode / Valentine's Day Episodes: All are present and then some. Being a daily strip, the comic regularly has the cast celebrate several different holidays over the year, including some less well known ones to boot. While more obscure holidays usually only get one or two strips devoted to them, major holidays tend to have whole arcs dedicated to themselves.
- Cool Pet: Someone in the neighborhood owns a domesticated raccoon named Bandit. After an initial Jump Scare, Max is more upset he can't keep the thing himself than that it chased him home.
- Dark Secret: Max has what he considers one in the fact that he still wears diapers to bed. When Dan found out, Sam threatened him to keep it a secret or else, and it's the reason Max refuses to go to or have sleepovers.
- Death Glare: These kids are masters of it.
- Expy: While he lacks the security blanket, there is definitely a Linus Van Pelt feeling to Max when he gets in his more introspective moods.
- Forgotten Childhood Friend: Though still kids themselves, it turns out Bill and Sam are this for each other. When they were younger they used to pal around with each other, but then Bill moved away. When he returned, he and Sam had changed so much they didn't recognize each other and started antagonizing each other. Resolved later on.
- G-Rated Drug: Max has an... interesting reaction to drinking coffee, even as a single cup. Though we never see the actual episode, the aftermath is usually treated in the same vein as a hangover for Max complete with What Did I Do Last Night? problems. Fortunately Sam is always there to enlighten him... with several pictures to use as visual aides.
- And now energy drinks get added to the list, with Max doing... something at the Mall that caused him to be banned there after drinking a free sample of one.
- Innocently Insensitive: Upon being told that his new buddy Sam is a girl, Bill proceeds to explain how that is impossible because girls are cute. While Sam is still within striking distance of him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Uncovering this is by Max, with the help of Mark, is what initiates Bill's eventual HeelFace Turn and acceptance by the rest of the cast.
- Case in point, upon finding out Max was suffering bad dreams that were keeping him from sleeping, Bill took it upon himself to get the kid a dreamcatcher. He even chided himself when he later realized he'd forgotten to show Max how to empty the dreamcatcher.
- He also shows a very caring and protective side once Ivan comes into the picture.
- Like Brother and Sister: Max and Sam are raised together as sibllings, even though they are cousins.
- Limited Wardrobe: Played with. Dan REALLY likes hoodies.
- Love Dodecahedron: Centering on Sam of all people. At this point it would be easier to pick which boys aren't a bit smitten with her. (HINT: Half of them is her cousin.) Whether or not she realizes this or is Oblivious to Love is another story.
- Mama Bear: Picking on Max in the presence of Sam has been known to lead to bloody noses... as Bill found out the hard way.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: This seems to be the dynamic between Sam and Max. She's far more aggressive and physical while he tends to be thoughtful and more sensitive to other's emotions.
- Morality Chain / Morality Pet: Mark can be seen as this for Bill. His introduction to the comic is what got Max to go looking for Bill's better side, while its been shown he's one of the few people capable of calling Bill out when he starts going too far.
- No Last Name Given: None of the characters have a last name, or at least not one revealed in the comic. Double points for Sam's Mom who insists Max refers to her as such and is thus No Name Given.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Despite the comic keeping pace with the year, and indeed the characters having past memories to play with, none of the cast seems to have aged a day since the comic began.
- Older Than They Look: as mentioned above, Max is officially 9 but looks much younger.
- Oh, Crap!: Max gets an epic one in these two strips.
- Sam's no slouch either.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: One of the nastiest aspects of Max's backstory is this. Max's back is covered in a web work of scars from the car accident he was in prior to the start of the series that took his parents. He has massive survivor's guilt because of this and he hides the scars because they remind him of the accident.
- Played with with Sam who bears a similar psychological scar to Max and also has a bunch of physical ones on her back. We're led to believe the connection is similar, only to find out that she got her scars falling out of a tree when she and Bill were much younger.
- Ivan is similarly covered with scars and far more timid than you'd think. Only time will tell what his story is.
- Tom Boy And Girly Girl: The difference between Sam and Lili, more than likely a deliberate comparison.
- Samus Is a Girl: Sam is a gender neutral name, she has boyish short hair, and she hardly ever dresses in girly clothes, so its easy to mistake her for a boy. Even in-universe characters can be quite shocked to find out her real gender.
- The Scapegoat: Jowy once wound up taking the blame for breaking a window in Sam and Max's house with a ball. Fortunately Dan was willing to help him pay for it, which Jowy thought was a nice gesture since "You're the one who broke it!"
- Shower Shy: a series of commissions featuring Max, Sam and an OC named Chris has them visit a Japanese Onsen, but both Max and Chris are very embarrassed and try to bail out.
- Shout-Out: Even though it has long since become it's own thing, the artstyle of the strip in it's early days was very reminiscent of Peanuts, and an early Halloween Episode even had a reference to the classic "Charlie brown only gets a rock" gag when the kids go trick-or-treating.
- The Un-Reveal: It is positively amazing how many ways dcrisisbeta has come up with to hide Dan's face from the readers. So much so that it's more fun to bet on how he'll hide it than if Dan's face will be revealed.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: What Max typically asks in the morning after having imbibed coffee the day before. Once Sam even got into the act.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: While Jowy can come off as out there in his thought processes, many is the time he's revealed to be far more on the ball than most of the cast.
- Younger Than They Look: New character Ivan is introduced as Bill's new adopted brother. He's about the same size as Max but is actually a year or two older than Bill himself.