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Something Positive

Something Positive or S*P is a webcomic by R. K. Milholland, which debuted on December 19, 2001. The comic is characterized by a cynical tone and off-beat humor, including its portrayals of geeks, gamers, and goths.

Drawing style

Milholland's drawing style has changed dramatically since the strip began in 2001, and has generally leaned towards simplicity. After a while he also started using 'paint blotch' backgrounds in some comics as a substitute for actual scenery.

Cast

The comic's main characters are Davan MacIntire, Aubrey Chorde, PeeJee Shou, and Jason Pratchett with a sub-cast stemming off that, to include Davan's immediate family (Fred and Dahlia MacIntire), as well as Monette Donnelly, Davan's adopted sister. There is an array of supporting cast members that range from Davan's boneless cat, Choo-Choo Bear, to the enigmatic Spanish-speaking love-midget, Pepito, to PeeJee's gay friend Jhim. These lesser cast members appeared more frequently in the first two years of the comic, but in recent years their prominence in the story line has diminished.

  • Davan Xanthias MacIntire II, born November 24, 1975, grew up in Bedford, Texas, currently lives in Texas, working via phone as an assistant for a wealthy investor in Boston's theatre scene. Davan is characterized by being melancholic, uninterested, cynical, sarcastic and cruel to anyone but his closest friends (sometimes even to his close friends), although he also shows them a great sense of loyalty, friendship and caring. For the majority of the strip, he and his friends lived in Boston, while he worked at a job he hated while sporadically appearing in theatre. He used to work in Medicaid billing, charging poor people for ambulance rides following tragedies - a job which lowered his already dismal ability to empathize with people. His dating life is poor at best; all of his girlfriends and interests but one (Branwen, who eventually left him for a dream job in Vancouver) either turned out to be crazy or else cheated on him. He considers himself ugly (and many female characters agree with this), but has a fairly long dating history in spite of it. He is also an expert dessert chef thanks to his mother's advice, and also used to draw a webcomic. Recently, Davan moved back to Texas to take care of his ailing father, with PeeJee in tow. His former crush on her has been brought up by many (including major characters), but the two deny any interest in going to that part of their relationship. Davan is haunted by the suicide of Scotty, his best friend from childhood.
  • Aubrey Chorde, born December 31, 1977, is Davan's closest friend since childhood. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, she later followed Davan to Boston. She is characterized by a similar sense of cynicism and sarcasm that the rest of the cast shares. She is also the most impulsive of the cast, frequently working on schemes that range from outlandish porn films to offensive public access TV shows. She moved in with Jason a few years into the strip's run, and they progressed to lovers, getting married in August 2006. This relationship, as well as the success of Aubrey's business venture Nerdrotica (a phone sex line specifically catering to computer and gaming geeks) have stemmed her impulsive nature considerably, though she still remains the most violent and quick-to-act member of the group. She and Davan are closer than any two other characters in the strip: they continue to call each other by childhood nicknames, "Woogie" (Davan) and "Monkeybutter" (Aubrey). Another character trait is her constantly-present red choker, a symbol of her Malaysian roots. With her permission, Milholland has "outed" American anime voice actress Clarine Harp as the "real-life" Aubrey.
  • Penelope-Jennifer "PeeJee" Shou was born October 5, 1976 in Canada, but spent much of her childhood in Singapore Her best friends are Aubrey (frequently being her accomplice) and Davan, and she is characterized by nearly always having her hair dyed in odd colours (a fairly consistent color is purple). She met the group through several internet conversations with Davan (dealing with the near-death of his sister), and moved to Boston when they did. After Aubrey, PeeJee is Davan's closest friend in the world and there are often signs of a hidden attraction between the two. She works in computer science and until recently was the manager of St. James Pub, the group's watering hole. PeeJee is similar to the rest of the cast in terms of cynicism and imagination, but is often hailed as their sanest member. Additionally, she often shows a weaker side by being the first to show pathos or pity on another, as well as being unable to break from relationships which are lost causes. Another running character trait is her unrequited crush for Jhim (who is gay), and speculated (among fans and characters) crush for Davan (returned from his own younger crush on her), not to mention her constant crushes on men who are either gay, or turn out to be gay (a long-running ex, Kyle, came out of the closet shortly after their break-up). She eventually moved to Texas to help Davan care for his father, fast developing an insult rapport with him.
  • Jason Chorde (formerly Pratchett), born March 19, 1972. Jason and Davan met at an audition. Jason was a child prodigy who took collegiate courses as a young teen. Early on, his primary character traits were an inexplicable luck with women (he is overweight and as sarcastic as the rest of his group), explained away as a mathematical formula for short-term dating success , and his elaborate schemes (the biggest of all being "Nailed!: The Musical", which was created solely to get him groupie sex). Jason is also the most placid and non-violent member of the group, and has a very close relationship with his mother and sister. For much of the strip's few years, Jason was portrayed as a "lecherous, womanizing phoenix" who was willing to do anything for sex and violently feared commitment. This changed when he and Aubrey moved in with each other at the end of 2003, an arrangement that led to the two of them becoming a couple in 2004 and getting married in August 2006 (though even Milholland's own Cast Page stated initially that this was unlikely to pan out). He took her last name, wishing to distance himself from his father, who abandoned the family after treating them horribly for years. The real Jason (whose name is Josh Pritchard) handles S*P's ad sales.

Secondary characters

  • Faye MacIntire was Davan's mother. Faye grew up on a small farm in rural Arkansas, a model child and the apple of her parents' eyes. As a teen she was a cheerleader, on both newspaper and yearbook staffs, in glee club, did dance competitions, and participated in beauty contests. In the late sixties, her father introduced her to his fishing partner, widower Fred MacIntire; the two immediately fell in love and were married after only two months of dating. They then moved to Texas where they raised two children, Davan and Dahlia. Faye was the epitome of patience and did her best to live her life by God's tenets. She did, however, have one of the sharpest tongues in the MacIntire household – she just preferred to keep it sheathed. She was also an expert cook, known for baking desserts as a reaction to her children's exploits. On January 27, 2006, she died in her sleep
  • Fred MacIntire is Davan's father. He and Davan do not always get along, both being prone to bickering, although when Davan was a teenager, they shared a love of comic books. Fred, whose younger life is often visited in flashbacks, appears to have once been almost exactly like Davan in terms of sarcastic depth, although he has long since burned out into general sullenness. He is, to date, the only character to have been shown aging; since the strip began, his face has become more lined and his hair has gone from gray to white. Recently, he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease; he revealed his condition only to Davan , but Davan informed other members of the family. The symptoms have recently begun to manifest.
    • In one comic, R.K. Milholland let his real-life parents state that they are both actually quite well; when his father complains about being portrayed as having Alzheimer's, his mother quips: "At least you're still alive!"
  • Dahlia MacIntire is Davan's disabled older sister, and a more minor character, appearing only occasionally. Before the strip began, she was left handicapped in a car wreck. Davan gives her running shoes each Christmas ever since, a perfect example of their antagonistic relationship. She used a wheelchair for years, and now uses a quad cane, and eventually began living on her own. Dahlia works as a travel agent, usually doing troubleshooting for very unhappy customers. She moved back home to care for her father in 2006.
  • Monette MacIntire (formerly Donnelly) is one of the earliest and longest running secondary characters in S*P. In her first appearance she was portrayed as a sweet but dim-witted character having a problem with constantly sleeping with men. Convinced that, deep down, she was a lesbian, she enlisted Davan's help to fully make the transition But after long bouts of sex with men (and a koala ) she traveled to Texas and moved in with the MacIntire family, and began a shaky relationship with her girlfriend, Lisa. After Lisa cheated on her, they went on a "break", during which Monette became pregnant after a one-night stand. After Monette suffered the stillbirth of her son, Lisa made a failed proposal; the two later got back together and have maintained a constant relationship since, though issues spread up around Lisa's unwillingness to reveal her relationship to both family and friends. Monette was adopted by the MacIntires after they met her father (a real bastard), and has begun growing slightly more intelligent (occasionally displaying wit or sarcasm on their level). In January 2006, she moved to West Hollywood, California to become a singer, along with Lisa. She moved to the background for a year, but occasionally pops up at family occasions. She hinted for several months of a "surprise" for the family. The surprise is revealed to be her newfound starring role in a sitcom entitled "Wyred Sisters." In the sitcom, she plays a character named "Davvy," a female version of Davan, going so far as to be shown saying the line "For a lesbian, she sure seems to suck a whole mess of..." a paraphrase of a line by Davan in the early strips about Monette herself, wearing an outfit with the same color scheme as Davan's most commonly seen shirt. It's revealed that Davan did not disapprove of this portrayal, but of Monette's terrible acting. She recently supported the WGA strike.
  • Kim Anansie was a frequent member of the supporting cast until 2004, by which time she had relocated to Illinois for graduate studies. She endured Davan's casual lust with generally amused grace, but when she found him out of his mind on painkillers, raped him , as she has a fetish for unconscious men. Kim is also a Wiccan, and a positive example of the religion in a comic that frequently ridicules them, as she frequently confronts her fellow Wiccans' behavior. Like Aubrey and PeeJee, Kim tended to deal with annoyances in a violent manner. She returned November 29, 2005, having been hired by Aubrey to help manage Nerdrotica She is a close friend of Kestrel, and possibly attracted to her as well. She started sleeping (consensually, this time) with Davan before he moved to Texas.
  • Lisa Baugh is Monette's girlfriend and coworker. Their relationship has had numerous ups and downs, such as Lisa cheating on Monette and her inability to come out to her family (who already were aware she was gay). Yet despite all their issues, Lisa remains the only long-term relationship that Monette has managed to have. She is also a character in one of Milholland's other comics, Midnight Macabre, which takes place in 1981 and shows her as the main character's toddler daughter. In January 2006, she and Monette moved to West Hollywood, California. Lisa's physical appearances has slowly changed over the years: at first she looked like a lipstick lesbian with traits similar to Monnette, but in recent strips she has taken on a more 'butch' appearance with lighter colored hair, loss of her prominent female lips, and even wearing more masculine attire.
  • Choo-Choo Bear, a boneless and hairless cat (due to an unexplained "rare bone disease" and chemotherapy), is the most surreal of all the characters, capable of taking on strange shapes (washrags , a drink , toilet paper, and freshly-popped toast) to comedic and/or violent effect. Jhim allowed PeeJee to talk him into adopting him , but later handed him off to Davan The two quickly warmed to each other in spite of early reactions, and are quite defensive of each other (Choo-Choo frequently attacks most anyone else). Choo-Choo precipitated a crossover with Queen of Wands by vanishing down Davan's drain and returning some time later with Kestrel's panties, resulting in an eBay fiasco. He remains one of the most popular Something Positive characters, though Milholland says he purposely tries not to "over-expose" him.

Choo-Choo Bear is also used in some non-canonical comics, often one-shots, or as a "host" for reading fanmail or other unusual events. In these, Choo-Choo Bear wears a smoking jacket and lashes out at the readers, often making snide comments about them or R.K. Milholland and expressing a rather egomaniacal personality. These panels never have any effect on the storyline of the comic, with the exception of the one that introduced his cousin, Twitchy-Hug. Choo-Choo and Twitchy are also the comic's only Jewish cast members.

  • Mike Dowden is an acquaintance of Davan's who was brought to further prominence when Davan began dating his cousin Branwen. Mike was depicted early on as the stereotypical 'bad nerd'; he was sexist (refusing to allow PeeJee to play a role-playing game), egotistical, constantly needed to be right, and offended nearly everyone else with power-gaming, rules-lawyering, and being generally opinionated. He spent the RPG trying to kill PeeJee's first character, and she, in retaliation, sent Deliverance-style redneck trees to rape his character (which became a running gag). He constantly needed his own opinions on fandom considered right, and would stalk and argue with anyone who was either famous, or went against him (including Steve Jackson and Gary Gygax). PeeJee eventually took pity on him, helping him out in various embarrassing situations (such as a date with Kharisma), to which Mike responded with characteristic vitriol. However, one incident (in which PeeJee proclaimed herself the only person who actually didn't want to hurt him, and as such was his best friend) changed his mind and he developed a crush on her, precipitating a slow change in his nature. Although PeeJee rejected him, she appreciated his changes, and he ultimately became a better person, even getting back together with an old girlfriend he hurt, Tamara, and becoming a casual acquaintance of the rest of the S*P gang. He has maintained a geeky lifestyle, and is still somewhat self-absorbed, but is more sane (though still comical) about it. He and Tamara now have a child (Shazam Wil-Wheaton Dowden, or Wheetie, as Tamara calls him), who apparently shares his ugliness. Mike's redemption from self-absorbed geek to self-aware geek is an extreme rarity in the cynical world of Something Positive.
  • Nancy Harper is a Nerdrotica employee, first appearing in the October 10, 2004, strip as one of the party girls dispatched by Aubrey to Davan's tenth high school reunion to hang all over him to make him appear wildly successful. She has subsequently become a friend of Davan's, and she appeared in a large number of strips with him in 2006 (a running theme was her trying to break him out of his dark, cynical shell, something echoed by various other characters over the years, and him rebuffing her). One storyline involved her claiming to be Davan's fiancée to get Eva's goat. She is ten years younger than Davan, a gap upon which they both frequently joke and comment. She appears less often now that Davan is in Texas, but she is still a fixture at Nerdrotica and was recently considered for a management position.
  • Kestrel is a woman from Denver, first encountering Davan when Choo-Choo Bear stole her panties and Davan subsequently sold them on eBay. She was originally the lead character in Queen of Wands, moving to Boston when that strip ended in February 2005. Soon afterward she was hit by a car in the background of a S*P strip (it turned out to be Avagadro's), but she reappeared in the Nerdrotica offices on November 30, 2005, having recovered from her injuries, and was hired as a member of their management team. She is now officially on the Supporting Cast page. Kestrel owns a cat named Zot, whom she lost while in her coma but later recovered.
  • Dr. Cab Ledbetter is a retired physician who runs the St. James' Pub, the bar that Davan and company frequent. Originally running it as a medical-themed bar, when that proved unsuccessful, he turned to PeeJee for help making it profitable, a decision that has thus far borne fruit. In return, PeeJee had the run of the bar. Cab is known for hiring attractive waitresses for the purpose of hitting on them, and often ignores their negative traits to maintain his relationship. His first extended appearance was in August 2005, in an ongoing plot arc involving the hanging of pictures. Cab has several children by three ex-wives, including a son that became a supporting character, Berenger. Berenger came across as lazy, whiny and homophobic (and racist, referring to PeeJee by using an ethnic slur), and took part in a long storyline initially, but then since disappeared from the strip. When Berenger reappeared in July 2007 he claimed that his homophobia was just something he picked up from his friends, and dropped when he realized that it made him look like Cab's anti-Asian girlfriend. Berenger appears to have reformed slightly from the antagonistic character he once was, though Cab has fallen from the graces of the main cast for humoring his girlfriend's racist comments in front of PeeJee and eventually driving her to quit the bar.
  • Anna Morgan is the youngest member of the supporting cast, and is regarded by Davan and company, particularly Jason, as a "little sister". First introduced on September 4, 2002, she was a perky, precocious blonde teenager, fond of fairies. She attends a college in Vermont, which she decided on because of its geographical remoteness from her parents. However, she became miserable due to her choice shortly thereafter, and for the better part of the year, has lived in a reclusive isolation from her peers at school. Anna slowly grew more jaded, resorting to sarcasm, smoking and mischief in the style of PeeJee and Aubrey. She did meet a friend named Ben. Anna only rarely takes part in the strip currently, living away from most of the cast. She recently became engaged
  • Pepito Sanchezberg is an enigmatic Spanish-speaking midget, introduced as the love-slave of evil play director Avagadro. He eventually escaped and became a recurring gag character, often teaming with Choo-Choo Bear in visual gag strips. He disappeared for a while after being eaten by a Canadian Trap Door Gator, but reappeared, now able to speak English, and became the HR director for Nerdrotica. He was named Avagadro's sole heir, despite running from him years earlier. Pepito appears rarely, and Milholland has been quoted as saying he hates the character. He recently was revealed to be in the Caribbean, living a luxurious lifestyle off of the millions he inherited from Avogadro.
  • Twitchy-Hug was Choo-Choo Bear's cousin, and lived with Davan for some time, although Davan didn't like him and he rarely appeared. Unlike Choo-Choo bear, Twitchy-Hug had both hair and bones. However, his hair color changed from strip to strip (and even from panel to panel within a strip), for reasons that have never been addressed. He had homicidal tendencies, and on a few occasions was depicted with dead bodies. In mid-2006, Twitchy-Hug attempted to kill Davan; Choo-Choo Bear then had his cousin assassinated by the Pet Professional in a crossover appearance from his eponymous webcomic His feet were later apparently used in the construction of an ash tray, which Davan presented as a gift to Nancy, and his skull used as a milk saucer for Choo-Choo.
    • Recently his silhouette was seen in the background of a comic , titled "Catty," behind Kharisma. After he was seen and "spoke" in the frame he was in, Kharisma began plotting to kill Avagadro, and her clothes began to imitate the rapidly-changing colors formerly seen on Twitchy-Hug's fur, lasting until Avagadro's death and Kharisma's incarceration. The exact meaning of either occurrence has never been explained.
  • Kharisma Valetti (stage name Kharisma O'Neill) is an egotistical, narcissistic woman who looks down on 'ugly people' with ill-disguised disdain, and considers only wealthy or attractive people worthwhile. Her first appearance was on February 11, 2002, where she was set up with Davan as a blind date, but balked at his "incredible ugliness", earning the undying enmity of Davan's friends. Since then, she has proven herself to be incapable of personal growth in spite of the occasional sign of change (she unexpectedly sympathized with Davan when she quit MedicAid, asking him to find a less soul-crushing job). Severe burns from an accident with a spray can resulted in scars that now mar her face. She became engaged to Ollie for his inheritance from Avagadro, but began sleeping with the old man herself, while trying to kill him (a game he devised). This resulted in her arrest and she is now in prison, apparently slipping into insanity, as Fluffmodeus has appeared, speaking to her directly (and apparently has beaten her tormentors at the prison savagely). Unlike former antagonist Mike, Kharisma has shown no signs of change, despite several characters maligning her negative traits to her face (which precipitated Mike's reversal), and Milholland himself has suggested that redemption is not in the cards for her

Minor and irregular characters

In this 'Day in the Life' strip, many side characters and one-shot types come and go, rarely making much of an impact beyond their immediate actions or talking to someone. These include Brian (the father of Monette's baby), Andy (a friend of Davan's who has been in the strip for years but rarely takes an active role), T. Arget (a MedicAid employee hostile to Davan and Kharisma), Spooky (a convention head based on a real friend of Milholland's), and Tony (an internet crush of Jhim's, who turned out to be a serial cheater). However, some minor characters have persisted through several storylines.

  • Jhim Midgett, born March 19, 1973, met Davan MacIntire playing D&D. Jhim is also involved in theater, and is an accomplished dancer. Peejee has a long-standing crush on Jhim, who is gay and completely unaware of her attraction to him. He moved to Washington DC after losing his job, but recently returned to Boston.
  • T-Bob first appeared at auditions for "Nailed!" and was given the role of Jesus. He has since become friends with Davan and the cast, helping with their plans and productions. He also modeled women's underwear for Davan so he could sell it on eBay. For a time he worked at the St. James' Pub, but last year quit.
  • Claire Shenstead, like most of the central cast, dabbles in acting. An attractive woman, Claire also seems to attract men with stalkerish, or at least possessive, tendencies. Most characters mocked her with a sex promise given to Davan early in the strip, and tended to shoot it in her face as frequently as they could. When she finally gives up, and goes to Davan in order to have sex with him, he is already having sex with a girl from Singapore whom he met in a chat room. She's very prone to show herself naked, whether intentionally or not, since she played the lead on a couple of Aubrey's porn projects. Upon her last appearance, she moved to Michigan.
  • Avagadro Pompey was a play director Davan and Jason met August 29, 2002, who frequently abused everyone within range, and had a sex-slave dwarf named Pepito. In his final storyline, he taunted Kharisma into trying to kill him, using his will as bait. Even though he died of natural causes, she was arrested for murder and is now in prison.
  • Ollie (later awarded the surname Pompey) was the producer and director of a play adaptation of Shock Treatment in 2004 before its backers pulled the plug on him for being too nice. They gave the director's position to Davan, and Ollie attempted to go behind Davan's back and direct anyway. Davan stopped him, but the play was cancelled when it turned out that Ollie lied and had not obtained the rights to Shock Treatment. It has since been revealed that he is Avagadro's loyal nephew, despite the fact that Avagadro hated him. He is still engaged to Kharisma upon her imprisonment, still unaware of her golddigging motives, although she expresses it out loud in a number of occasions.
  • Mr. Sanderson is a bald black man who was a representative of the investors in the bungled stage adaptation of Shock Treatment and an investor in Boston's theater scene. Upon hearing that Davan's apartment building had burned down and that "the man and woman living there were killed," he believed that Davan had died. Upon finding out otherwise he tracked Davan down and offered him a job.
  • Scotty Harris was one of Davan's and Aubrey's best friends from growing up. Not especially notable for his wisdom, Scotty's shining qualities were his loyalty to his friends and his willingness to go along with the half-cocked scheme of the hour. He took an overdose of sleeping pills and, in his first on-panel appearance, died (days after Davan acquired Choo Choo Bear). He has since been seen in flashbacks.
  • Rose, Davan's first crush. She has only been seen in flashbacks, as she died in a car accident prior to the beginning of the strip.
  • Gaspar Baugh is Lisa's father. He was originally introduced in the S*P spinoff, "Midnight Macabre," which centers around him and the public-access horror showcase he hosts. Aside from an-out of focus cameo and several references to him, he did not appear in the strip until August 2007
  • Coppertop is Davan's and Kharisma's former boss. A mean, petty individual who enjoyed making his employees' lives more unpleasant. When Kharisma left, he added her workload to Davan's, who said he was already doing it. As the only person left doing emergency billing this made Davan indispensable, and shifted power to him. Shortly after Davan resigned (by setting fire to Coppertop's tie), he was laid off. He has since rebuilt his life as a guidance counselor, tormenting and sabotaging the students in his charge.
  • Linzie - A goth girl Nancy found in an alley "setting things on fire" and promptly set up with Davan. They hit it off surprisingly well, even after Davan discovered she enjoys strangling her sexual partners, but did not maintain the relationship.
  • Fluffmodeus - A small blue rodent-like creature, resembling a squirrel (sans tail), who first appeared in the 'Life With Rippy' meta-strip at the end of 2006 Shortly after, he appeared in S*P, now as some sort of Spectral entity that appears to be only visible to Kharisma. He was apparently responsible for the severe beating of an inmate who threatened Kharisma His name was finally revealed in the January 21, 2008 strip. Prior to this, he had simply been known as "the little blue thing." R.K. Milholland himself has commented that he does not know if Fluffmodeus is "real" or only a bizarre figment of Kharisma's imagination.

Non-characters

  • Mr. Personality - the comic's mascot frownie face. He was originally used as the mascot for the now-defunct website for Generation Hate, a webzine written by Milholland prior to Something Positive.
  • Redneck Trees - a complicated and odd recurring concept. In the original plot arc that introduced Mike Dowden, PeeJee came up with the idea for Redneck Trees, which are evil characters that sodomize their victims in Dungeons and Dragons. Milholland actually created a D&D game stats card for them as a substitute for a comic one day. The Redneck Trees were also picked up by Steve Jackson Games for one of the Munchkin expansion sets.
  • Mr. Fishface - A strange, monstrous creature, possibly inspired by Deep Ones, seen in some comic strips, usually in the background. An example can be seen here, as one of Santa's elves.

Setting and storyline

The main cast lives in some unspecified location in Boston, the MacIntire family lives in Bedford, Texas, and Monette has recently moved with Lisa to West Hollywood, California. The comic will often switch between these locations, with related story lines, as well as go back in time. This most often occurs with the MacIntires and the earlier life of Davan, but has happened to explain the circumstances that brought the main three characters together. S*P has done multiple crossovers with Queen of Wands, the first of which involved a baby-sitting mishap with Choo-Choo Bear, and one with Scandal Sheet!. Milholland has been known to use his comic as a forum for responding to irritating email, and has more than once satirized his own comic in the process of making a point. Probably the most common type of joke in the comic is one person stating their opinion, and then being rebutted by a main cast member in crude, vulgar fashion. Davan is usually the one making the rebuttal, though PeeJee and Aubrey often share the honors as well.

S*P is largely based on the personal experiences of the cartoonist. All of the main cast has some real life basis: many of them are directly based on real people, while others combine qualities from multiple specific people. According to the FAQ, around 65-70% of the comic is based on real life experiences, although toward the beginning it was closer to 90%. Milholland has stated in one interview that a character who was based on two people had to be removed from the strip temporarily after one of those people 'betrayed' him in some fashion, and that part of their character was culled. He did not state which character, though the primary suspect is Lisa, as she is a core character in "Midnight Macabre", another strip of Milholland's, that went into stasis because of a similar (possibly the same) incident of betrayal.

Unlike many webcomics featuring players of role-playing games, it is not a gaming comic. The gamers that do appear are usually stereotypical D&D nerds (when Milholland does publish a gag D&D monster, it is in the 3rd edition format), who cannot function socially — but others do appear who are portrayed more positively.

Storylines revolving around low-budget or no-budget theater are also common, some drawing on Milholland's experiences in the Boston theater scene. Most notorious among these was the storyline about Nailed!, a musical about the crucifixion of Jesus in the vein of Jesus Christ Superstar, but done in a manner which is irreverent and highly offensive (including a scene where Mary Magdalene does a pole dance on the cross). Many of the secondary Boston characters are loosely based on people in Boston's improvisational theater and sketch comedy community.

S*P, unlike many comic strips with their episodic "gag-a-day" format, takes a linear, storyline-based approach. Subject matter ranges from the main characters' adventures (both present and past) to contemporary commentary to political statements, and often makes its points in scathing and offensive fashion: for instance, in the debut strip, the strip's main character offers his opinion of an ex-girlfriend by giving her a coat hanger as a baby shower present (alluding to its use as an instrument in back-street abortions). However, the strong friendships shared by the main characters inject occasional bouts of hope (and certainly have greater dramatic impact through their rarity).

A major theme in the comic is romance and relationships. The vast majority of the cast is either unlucky in love (particularly Davan, as his only 'good' relationship ended when Branwen moved away), in sometimes strained relationships (Monette and Lisa have had several trials and tribulations), or happy together in spite of each other (Fred and Faye had a wonderful, if sometimes sarcastic, relationship, and Aubrey and Jason have a marriage that seems similar to Fred and Faye's relationship). Most romantic dalliances, however, end badly.

Time frame

The strip is set in semi-realtime: That is, a year in the strip will be released over the course of a year; however, a plot arc might start out several days before it is set, then conclude on the supposed day. There are also frequent flashbacks to the past, which also come with dates.

Even with its fixture in time, the comic does not make much effort to connect with day-to-day real-life events (exceptions include the Aqua Teen Hunger Force ads that disrupted Boston). Politics are dodged if possible, apparently because Millholand "made a promise to [his] dad long ago to avoid certain topics" An exception is an arc in mid 2004, when Aubrey tries to get Peejee to go with her to the 2004 Democratic National Convention so they can hand out Nader fliers.

Running Gags

  • Direct as well as oblique references to Ed Gein appear throughout the comic.
  • Jokes about clichés of places and ethnicity particularly concerning clichés about Canada and Texas.
  • References to the role playing game system GURPS.
  • References or appearances of the "Canadian Trap Door Alligator," who would leap out of the ground and eat characters (including Pepito and a Wiccan High Priestess)
  • Choo-choo Bear's amorphous qualities.
  • Silas, in character as an old country cowpoke, who would talk to the audience (apparently breaking the fourth wall, though it was revealed that he was actually talking to imaginary friends), explaining current events in the strip. The other characters would dismiss him as annoying and crazy. He was eventually run over and killed by Avagadro , and has been seen in Hell
  • Jesus-Mickey, another gag character, who tried to pick up women while dressed as Jesus. It is implied that he, too, was killed by Twitchy-Hug.
  • Character deaths- Milholland summarily killed off Silas, Twitchy-Hug and Jesus-Mickey in a very short period of time; being minor characters, their deaths involved little fanfare or effect on the story. Soon other, more important characters, such as Faye and Avagadro, also died, in these cases with more of an effect on the comic's plot.
  • Aubrey's schemes. One of which was a TV show so bad that the state took out a restraining order to keep her away from TV stations or recording equipment.
    • The rule among the cast members is that the person who accidentally inspires one of Aubrey's schemes is the one who has to help her until it either blows up in her face, or she loses interest. Eventually one of those schemes, Nerdrotica, a phone sex hot line meant for nerds, actually worked and thus this type of joke comes a lot less frequently and mostly in flashbacks.
  • Religious humor.
    • Fundamentalist Christianity, including Christians acting in bigoted or stereotypical ways. (Note that not all Christian characters are negatively portrayed, for example, Davan's parents.)
    • Wicca, with the implication that most of its practitioners simply follow it as a fad. (Note that not all Wiccan characters are negatively portrayed, for example, Kim and Kestrel.)

Spin-offs

Something Positive has spawned three official spin-offs: New Gold Dreams, Midnight Macabre and Something Positive 1937.

  • New Gold Dreams - In April 2004, Milholland launched a fantasy webcomic with loose continuity roots in the frequent roleplaying storylines of Something Positive. Based on the first strip, and according to the comic's FAQ, the story exists in the Something Positive world in the form of notes for PeeJee's RPG world. Since it exists as a fictional world within the Something Positive world, some of its characters resemble cast members from the parent strip. However, the main character of New Gold Dreams - the apprentice coffin maker and aspiring hero Eumaeus - is not intended to be directly linked to any particular Something Positive character. The comic's FAQ states that he is, at most, a non-player character in PeeJee's game.

  • Midnight Macabre - In May 2005, Something Positive found itself the parent of another spin-off. This time, however, the new comic existed in the same universe and continuity as Something Positive. Midnight Macabre follows Gaspar Baugh, father of Something Positive supporting cast member Lisa Baugh, as he tries to revive a late-night show first referenced in the January 31, 2005 installment of Something Positive The story takes place in 1981; Milholland even chose to date the installments as if they were being released in that time period. The comic has had several long hiatuses.
  • Something Positive 1937 - Starting on September 7, 2007, Milholland launched a third spin-off from Something Positive, this one also taking place in the same continuity as the original but taking place many years earlier. Something Positive 1937 follows the relationship of Fred's father Vester Macintire and his cousin Davan (Davan of S*P's namesake, first mentioned in the comic's May 8, 2007 strip). The comic is in black and white and currently featured in a sidebar next to the original, with archives available on the same page as the original strip. Milholland has said in news posts he expects the story to last for a few years, and provided it with its own website on September 24, 2007. The strip has not updated since January of 2008.
  • Two Girls Kissing (the spin-off that never was) - As filler during a break from the normal installments in late 2005, Milholland released "The Lost Sketches" - sketches which detailed what would have been the first Something Positive spin-off. Conceived during the early days of the strip, the spin-off was intended to have a more serious tone while connecting to the original strip by featuring the main Something Positive cast in supporting roles. The strip would have focused around a lesbian character named Mikaela and - according to Milholland's statements in "The Lost Sketches" - was intended to be "the typical, 'we're in our early twenties and don't know where the fuck we're going or what the Hell we're doing' nonsense." Milholland stated that he scrapped the idea after discovering K. Sandra Fuhr's comic, Boy Meets Boy, and worrying that he "couldn't do anything in the new comic that Sandra wasn't already doing better in her strip."
  • Life With Rippy - Not a spin-off per se, "Life With Rippy" consists of certain strips, not part of normal continuity, which supposedly depict the real life of R.K. Milholland and his muse, an anthropomorphic razor blade named "Rippy."

Characters

  • Randy: The "real" R.K. Milholland.
  • Rippy the Razor - A sort of offbeat mascot and/or muse, Rippy the Razor teaches people how to properly slash their wrists. ("Remember, kids, down the block, not across the street!") He does, however, advocate other forms of suicide, and generally follows Randy around. He enjoys making people miserable, especially Randy. He seems at times to be a hallucination of Randy's, though others can see him at other times. He is known to communicate with the muses of other webcomic artists, all of whom are happier and less cynical than he. Originally appeared in Something Positive.
  • Fluffmodeus originally appeared in "Life With Rippy." Milholland threatened to put him in the main comic "unless ransom demands are met;" they apparently were not. He was without a name until January 21st, 2008, and was previously known as "the little blue thing". He is currently hanging around Kharisma, who is unsure whether or not Fluffmodeus is hallucinatory. In one such questionable incident, Fluffmodeus is seen storming out of Kharisma's cell in anger when he sees her upset and feeling defeated about prison life; the following morning, Kharisma's tormentors had been beaten within an inch of their lives.
  • The Misery Monkey is a bizarre creature that apparently hunts for miserable people, hangs onto them and seems to consume their unhappiness. Rippy's hero.

External links

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