Buttercup Festival is a webcomic authored by England-based poet and author David Troupes. The comic's first run, from February 17, 2000 to January 10, 2005, began as a feature in the University of Massachusetts newspaper, The Daily Collegian, where Troupes was an editor during his college years. It was written under the pseudonym "Elliot G. Garbauskas." At various times during its first run it was published in the newspaper, on its own web site, and in other student newspapers and independent periodicals. The second series, which is ongoing, began on January 28, 2008.
Buttercup Festival's typical format is a strip of three or four panels, with the last often a non sequitur. Early installments feature simple two-value illustrations; as the author's skills matured, he began drawing larger tableaus and events.
The comic's humor is marked by whimsy, puns, parody, and a gentle, eccentric madness. However, not all strips are wholly humorous; many are intended simply to evoke a sense of beauty or wonderment at nature (especially Sunday issues, painted in watercolor and often lacking dialogue), somewhat reminiscent at times of Calvin and Hobbes.
Individual strips were collected in three print editions: Buttercup Festival, Irony is Killing my Soul, and Buttercup Festival: Unsinkable Affection for the World. As of January 2005, all are out of print. The author's other works include a short poetic graphic story called An Island People Go To, likewise out of print, and another webcomic called Green Evening Stories.
Though Buttercup Festival
has little, if any continuity
from one strip to the next, and does not build on past strips, the same protagonist appears in every strip, and several other characters recur.
- The strip's protagonist resembles the Grim Reaper, dressing in black robes and carrying a scythe. However, he is not intended to be Death; rather, his appearance was a parody of the Goth sub-culture, and he never uses the scythe except occasionally to nudge things. On one occasion a cloaked figure with scythe was shown, his head a skull as death's is traditionally portrayed, though it is unclear if this figure is indeed the main character. The protagonist's defining characteristics include limitless optimism (he once successfully built a hot air balloon out of cinder blocks, using his "unsinkable affection for the world" as fuel) and an idiosyncratic perception of reality (in one strip, for example, he thinks that his Game of Life board is a city map). He seems to play various musical instruments, including guitar, trumpet, Tambourine and banjo. It is also worth noting that the protagonist has been identified as 37 years old, and apparently has a child with whom he plays "catch." Throughout the strip's earlier additions he also displays marked sadomasochistic tendencies; these however seem to abate as the strip progresses.
- The voice of an unseen and unnamed character comes from off-panel in many strips. This character is frequently a foil for the protagonist, questioning his actions and correcting his misperceptions.
- Rodney the second-grade T-ball jockey is, as the name suggests, a second-grader with an aggressive attitude whose life revolves around tee ball.
- Future Boy is a jet pack-wearing boy who occasionally appears and reveals interesting facts about what happens in the future.
- An alien being called 'Cosmic Protean Intelligence' is sometimes featured conversing with the protagonist in an alien language. We gather an understanding of what the being says from the protagonist's replies in English.
- A couple of strips feature a sentient balloon that believes itself to be human.
- A caricature of the musician Moby has appeared in several strips.
On December 21, 2007, Troupes posted a three-line message to the Buttercup Festival
mailing list apparently announcing a second Buttercup Festival series:
It has been awhile.
But there is news.
See the website.
On that day, Troupes's front page at buttercupfestival.com featured a reference to "Buttercup Festival Series II" set to launch January 28, 2008. Buttercup Festival Series II currently updates on an unfixed schedule; typically, new comics appear on a Monday, about once every two weeks. This new series is generally more visually oriented, featuring elaborate outdoors backgrounds and neatly written, minimalist dialogue