was a daily webcomic
by David Willis
. It concerned the adventures of the fictional alien-fighting organization SEMME
, and in particular current and previous members of Squad 128
. The comic's genre is fairly difficult to pin down – the most important part was the character-driven story, which had a very strong continuity
, but comedy
was featured whenever the drama
didn't block it out. Though set in the present day, the alien elements and advanced technology involved brought sci-fi
was a regular visitor, but so was goofiness. The comic strip could (and often did) go from theological
discussion to toilet humor
within the same week.
It's Walky! was the direct continuation of Roomies, a previous webcomic about a group of college students by the same artist. The debut of It's Walky! is considered to have happened on December 25, 1999, but the switch between the two wasn't instantaneous; sci-fi elements had crept into the college environment of Roomies long before, and the comic featured storylines from both for a while. A few characters from Roomies became main characters in It's Walky!, and the remaining protagonists later made it into the cast as secondary characters.
It's Walky was followed by Shortpacked!, which was part of the same continuity but with an entirely different focus: the daily lives of a toy store's employees, including (oddly) SEMME veterans Mike and Robin. Donation-based It's Walky! epilogue strips ($100 for each strip) run by popular demand eventually led into and were replaced by a direct sequel called Joyce & Walky, which started on August 1 2005. In the meantime, Willis had left Keenspot on May 19 2005, to found Blank Label Comics.
The associated fanbase was extremely active, and notable for producing vast quantities of fan art, much of which would be invalidated within days at the worst stages of the finale. An inexplicably large amount of it was pornographic, though clearly marked as such.
was far from being made up on the spot. Willis had developed the basic idea for most of his life, and the anti-alien organization SEMY made appearances in Klik & Play
games years before the comic. Much of the cast premiered in the artist's earlier and unrelated endeavours. In fact, the main character was originally a self-insert
done in the fifth grade, since evolved into unrecognizability save for the first name and a few minor traits. To his credit, Willis' older characters were not used spuriously or for their own sakes, with the possible exception of Ultra Car the sentient SUV
- Walky is the main character of the strip, and is currently the leader of Squad 128. His mother is Linda Walkerton, the current "Big Boss" of SEMME. His "twin brother" is Beef, although it was revealed that in reality Sal is his sister. Sal and Beef were switched at birth as part of a deception by their mother. Walky is currently dating Joyce. He is juvenile and impulsive, and can be considered Squad 128's comic relief — and thus his promotion to leader led to a certain amount of alarm. Despite his goofy demeanor, however, he is actually highly intelligent (possibly even superhumanly so); it is later revealed that his scatterbrained behavior (and that of several other SEMME operatives) is a side effect of repeated mind wipes, though it also has been hinted that it is at least partly intentional on Walky's part as well. Walky died in the final battle, but his soul was pushed back into the Cheese suit where he defeated the Martians. He was later returned to his own body using a make-shift Martian Resurrection Chamber created by Joe.
- Joyce has been a main character of the strip ever since Roomies. Like the rest of the SEMME agents (except Jason), Joyce has the ability to control alien technology with her mind. She seems to have a special affinity for a jetpack, which appears to be somewhere inside her vest. She also whips out a large gun whenever there's trouble (although no one can figure out where she stores it). Strongly religious before joining SEMME, she took objection to the vast amounts of "pre-marital hanky-panky" perpetrated in an organization consisting primarily of 25-year-olds. If Walky represents the boundless energy of childhood, Joyce is its innocence and purity. She is currently engaged to Walky.
- Sal Walters is actually Sal Walkerton, Linda's daughter and Walky's twin sister. She was switched at birth with Beef in order to lure the aliens away from Walky She came into the Roomies strip as Danny's former girlfriend. She is viewed as a bit unstable by the other characters, especially after almost destroying the country using the Power Booster Rod. After Jason found out she was being brain-washed by an organization controlled by his father (known unofficially as "Jason's Father's Organization," or JFO), he broke her out of jail. They returned to SEMME headquarters to prevent further hijinks, and were both unofficially pardoned by Linda. Sal has had relationships with Danny, Tony, and Jason, but is now apparently officially dating Jason. Physically, she is perhaps the strongest and most resilient of the SEMME agents, having demonstrated the ability to lift over a ton of dead weight, and has survived injuries which would have killed even most other Abductees.
- Jason, son of Dargon Chesterfield, is a part of a group of interdimensional travellers trying to escape their dimension's version of the Cheese (unofficially called the JFO, for "Jason's Father's Organization"). However, since he was born in this dimension, he can be detected by the Cheese. He is one of the only members of SEMME who is not an alien abductee. He was framed by the JFO and went AWOL; before that, he led Squad 128. Distinctly British, he is a good leader and holds the respect of many.
- Anthony McHenry, Jr (Tony)
- Tony was killed by Sal when the Head Alien took control of all the abductees during Year Zero. He was later brought back to life using a Martian Resurrection Chamber, and had to face the events he had missed — including the death of his beloved father. Solid and dependable, he can still become savagely angry. He later was killed again by Head Alien during the final battle.
- Mike seems to be permanently ticked off, which causes frustration with his teammates. Little is known about him, so it is uncertain whether he is this way because of some event in his past life or if that's just his personality. He got reassigned to Squad 82 after Walky beat him to a pulp over Dina, and was replaced by Robin. When drunk Mike's personality turns around and he becomes very friendly and polite. He was killed during the final battle by the Martians, trying to defend Joyce. Strangely enough, he is now alive and well in Shortpacked!, with no explanation; it is not possible that he was resurrected in the same chamber responsible for Walky's return, as his body was completely obliterated by the Martians, and according to Joe, a piece of the body is required for resurrection.
- Joe is one of the few characters who is major in both the original Roomies and It's Walky!. As said on the IW! cast page, "He doesn't want a lot out of life – mostly just the chance to score as often as possible with as many members of the opposite sex as he can get drunk." Despite his obnoxious manner, he has been extremely successful romantically, and it has been suggested that his tremendous charm is a result of a unique abductee enhancement. Surprisingly, he is also a big tech person and a huge fan of Transformers. After being abducted by aliens and SEMME (in that order), he worked with Professor Doc and Dina in the labs, as well as performing fieldwork with Squad 128. He is sort of dating Rachel.
- Dina was SEMME's main tech specialist before Joe, and assistant to Professor Doc. She dated Walky for a while. After they broke up and he started dating Joyce, she started to develop an interest in Mike (whom she kept drunk in order to make him more sociable). Though scientific to a ridiculous extent, she was nowhere near as uptight as Joyce. During the JFO's first attack on SEMME, she died to save the lives of the rest of the agents.
- Robin is the newest member of Squad 128. She is exceedingly hyper, which is reflected not only in her personality but in her abductee power of super speed. She seems to have some feelings for Joe, but wants him to be with Rachel if that makes him happy. Little else is known about her. She is currently a main character in Shortpacked!, working alongside Mike.
- Walky and Sal's mother. Currently Big Boss of SEMME. As a teenager, she witnessed a confrontation between the Head Alien and the father of her schoolmate, Anthony McHenry, becoming aware of the existence of aliens. She subsequently fought them alongside Anthony, but when she tired of the lifestyle, she settled down with a man named David. But happiness was to be denied Linda Walkerton, as she returned home one day to find David murdered. The deed had been done by Dargon Chesterfield's organization, but made to appear as the work of the Martians. Enraged, Linda tied a scrap of David's clothing around her waist, and took his body to the Martian embassy, intent on using their resurrection technology to bring him back to life. Unfortunately for her, she was no match for the Martians, and was killed by them. Dargon Chesterfield's organization subsequently killed all the Martians remaining on Earth, and then resurrected Linda to frame for the deed. But Linda couldn't escape the circle she had placed herself in – with Martian DNA now a part of her body thanks to the resurrection process, and knowledge that eventually other Martians would come to Earth for revenge, she turned to the Head Alien. Together, they formed a plan to create an army of enhanced humans to fight the Martians, using Linda's own children (possessing her Martian DNA) as a template. Linda engineered a switch of her daughter, Sal, with another child, which on the surface appeared to be a way to hide her, but was in fact intended to draw the Head Alien's attention to her, as she already knew that her son, David, would be the more powerful, dangerous one. The Head Alien and his minions began abducting normal humans and experimenting on them, transferring diluted versions of the Martian-DNA-gifted superpowers to them. This had, of course, been Dargon Chesterfield's plan all along, and so, working from the shadows, he created SEMME, an organization that the abductees would work for – getting them all into one place, to fight and defeat the Martians that threatened his organization.
- Former Big Boss of SEMME, before Linda Walkerton. Tony's father.
- From the IW! cast page: "Doc's nearly the archetypal mad scientist, except with a real job for the government in an office building. He's not big on ethical or moral arguments – he's not a bad guy at all, but he simply doesn't see what good arguing about something is if you can learn something by cutting it up." Doc was killed during the latest invasion of SEMME by the JFO.
- Alan is one of the more mysterious members of SEMME, and little is known about him. He is actually one of the small purple aliens who controls a human robot from a cockpit in the chest. During the final battle it is revealed that he is actually the "Man in Black", who showed up several times during Roomies and early It's Walky! Much of the mystery surrounding Alan has not been revealed, even though the comic has now ended.
- Leader of Squad 135. From the IW! cast page: "Daisy is a lot like Jason, at least in the field. Tough, no-nonsense, takes no prisoners and takes no guff. Gets the job done, but doesn't appear to make a lot of friends in the process. Likes the ladies."
- Squad 37 (Fitz, Hooper, Hooks, Lith, Max and Zack)
- Squad 37 was another one of the top squads of SEMME. Hooper was thought to have died during a trip to the Martian Embassy in the Bermuda Triangle, but he somehow survived. Zack, however, was definitely killed during the same mission, and was replaced in the squad by Hooks. On a trip back to Bermuda to find Anti-Head Alien, it was revealed that Hooper had actually fallen under the Martian's mind control powers. He killed and ate all the other members of the team except for Lith who managed to stop him with his own chainsaw. She is now trying to revive her dead friends using one of the Martian Resurrection Chambers. Squad 37 is one of a handful of IW! squads who are based whole-cloth on real-world friends of David Willis. The other squads primarily served as background filler characters and cannon fodder, very rarely receiving speaking lines.
- Squad 48 (Marcie, Tootsi, Mandy, Guns, and Grace)
- From the IW! cast page: "Squadron 48 is probably the most, uh, friendly squad in SEMME. They're friendly to each other, friendly to other people, and friendly to either guys or girls. They're very very friendly." Mandy, Grace, and Guns were all killed in the final battles of the series.
- SEMME's system admin. Went to school with Danny, Joyce, Joe, and Sarah. He's never seen standing up or away from his computer. From the IW! cast page: "Alex is a little lacking in people skills, but he's a l33t hax0r and can rob you blind through bank accounts you don't have. Still, he's not a bad guy in person, as long as you don't mess with his surge protector."
- Joyce's (and Walky's) dog. Named after Danny the person, although Joyce didn't realize it at the time.
- Leader of the Aliens. Often referred to as "Dexter" on the forums, since after getting resurrected in the Martian Embassy his clawed hand switched from right to left (making him right-handed, thus Dexter). From the IW! cast page: "Scheming and theatrical, the Head Alien is the leader of the current alien invasion of Earth. He is forever hatching grandiose plans that revolve in mysterious ways around the various people the aliens have abducted over the years. Though supremely self-assured, he tends to go to pieces when things go awry. Even when they do, though, he is rarely without a back-up plan." The Head Alien worked with Linda Walkerton to create an army of enhanced humans to fight the impending Martian invasion, using Linda's children and the Martian DNA that was passed down from their resurrected mother, as a template. But being himself, the Head Alien double-crossed her and exploited the plan, programming the abductees to obey his command, turning them into an army in an event termed "Year Zero". Stopped by SEMME, his attentions turned to gathering Martian technology, eventually raiding the abandoned Martian embassy on Earth, where he was killed battling Walky. However, the resurrection machines in the embassy brought the Head Alien back to life nine months later (with his claw and normal hands reversed), and, imbued with Martian DNA from the resurrection process, he attacked Denver with Martian warships. Defeated, he retreated, but his next scheme saw him experiment with time manipulation in order to learn the secrets of the Cheese. A resultant anomaly temporarily caused him to switch genders (becoming "Hedy Alien"), but he was thought to be killed when reality reordered itself. In actuality, however, his soul hid itself within the Cheese suit, and during the final battle with the Martians, he emerged, taking control of the Cheese. He used his new godlike powers to attack SEMME and also to reshape the body of his clone, Anti-Head Alien, giving him back his old form and body. When Alan deactivated the Cheese, Sal stabbed the Head Alien through the back, finally killing him.
- He apparently returned in the last two donation-based It's Walky strips, claiming the universe had been "corrupted and rewritten", and proceeded to talk Bobby "Machete" Walkerton, Joyce and Walky's son from 25 years into the future, into non-existence by stating he would kill his parents before Bobby was born
- He also later appeared briefly to taunt Robin (who appeared to recognise him) in Shortpacked!, where a silhouette resembling him and using his distinctive speech balloons appeared shortly after the store's "drama tag" was pulled
- Monkey Master is a giant robotic ape (not a monkey) created by the Head Alien. He is probably the most sensible minion of HA's group, even though his original design was horribly inefficient, most notably due to his lack of elbows, and his guns that shot monkeys. After the destruction of his body in his initial attack on SEMME, he was reconstructed into a superior configuration by the Cheese, who incorporated some trace elements of Martian technology into him. When HA has disappeared several times, Monkey Master has taken over as head of the Aliens. He has some sort of love interest with the Sensitive Scanner, the Alien's main computer. During the final battle, Monkey Master joins SEMME in the fight against the Martians and then in the fight against Head Alien.
- Jason's father. Brought a group into this universe trying to escape the Cheese. Killed by Penny, who then took over the organization. The organization actually created SEMME, in order to fish out all the people with Martian DNA (the Alien abductees created by Linda and Head Alien).
- Penny is a member of Dargon Chesterfield's interdimensional travellers, and a childhood friend of Jason's. She killed Dargon and took over the organization, which continued to brainwash people (most notably Sal) and spy on SEMME. She was killed by Jason when the JFO stormed SEMME HQ (the second time).
- Beef was switched with Sal at birth, and became Walky's "twin brother". He dated Billie in high school, and, after being recruited by SEMME, served on Squads 135 and 128. However once it was revealed that Sal was actually Walky's sister and Linda's daughter, Beef became ignored by his former family. The neglect caused him to betray SEMME and join the JFO. He was eventually killed by Daisy. He speaks in grunts, which the cast somehow manages to interpret.
- Anti-Joyce was a clone of Joyce made with the Dup-o-Matic during the Melonpool crossover. She was killed by Joyce shortly after showing up at SEMME.
- The main character of Roomies. Used to date Sal, and has mixed feelings now that he is dating Billie. From the IW! cast page: "Danny's dependable, trustworthy and usually pretty nice. He's not a lot of fun at parties, but you can count on him to drive you home. He's got a very low threshold for the exotic."
- Howard's older sister. Other than in flashback sequences, and for a brief time during the final battle, Ruth has never appeared in IW!, since she died near the end of Roomies! From the IW! cast page: " Ruth and her brother Howard were neglected by their perpetually arguing parents, and Ruth escaped with precious little sense of self-worth or optimism. All she ever wanted to do was make it through school so she could move away and never have to see her home life again. Somehow, even though her morose, self-destructive tendencies continued through college – eventually infecting her friend Billie – she graduated with her bachelor's and moved on to do graduate work. This is when her brother Howard followed her to school, when she met Danny, and ultimately when she died saving his life."
- Jennifer Billingsworth (Billie)
- Billie is Danny's fiancee, Ruth's former girlfriend, and Walky's childhood best friend. She is currently a news reporter, and has tried several times to get info on SEMME through Danny. Her nickname comes from Walky, who didn't like to think of her as a girl; Ruth, who babysat for them at the time, then came up with the name "Walky." Billie has a rivalry with Sal, who has tried to win Danny back several times.
- Whitney Howard Lesse (Howard)
- The little brother of Ruth. Went to college with Danny, Joe, Joyce, and Sarah. From the IW! cast page: "Howard is nerdy and useless. The only real reasons anyone keeps him around are because they feel sorry for him or because he's fun to pick on. He likes Star Trek more than is legal in most of the Midwest."
- Much to her dismay, Sarah was Joyce's roommate in college. She reappeared in IW! as a lawyer working for Bart O'Ryan, and was one of the people responsible for the shut down of SEMME. She later became suspicious of Bart's motives, and warned Walky and Joyce of the JFO's attack on SEMME.
- Mary went to school with Danny and Joe. When Sal moved to town, they quickly became good friends. Sal later called on Mary's help when Jason was shot breaking her out of jail. From the IW! cast page: "Most people peg Mary as a typical Bible-thumping choirgirl. She's conservative, carries a sketchpad around, and is usually very soft-spoken. Unfortunately, this behavior is a mask for the true Mary, a hypocrite who's long on contempt and short on convictions. She believes her faith puts her above everyone else."
- Bart O'Ryan is a high profile lawyer who served as a thorn in SEMME's side after the agency's existence was made public. He made multiple appearances in national news media questioning the logic of using hyper-sexual twentysomethings with no military training to combat an interplanetary threat (as opposed to using conventional military forces). His name is a partial play on TV commentator Bill O'Reilly, and O'Ryan even appeared on O'Reilly's program in one strip.
- Rachel is sort of Joe's girlfriend. They met online in an engineering chatroom and soon became good friends. Not much is known about her except that she is apparently almost as good with tech stuff as Joe is.
- Approximately one month after the meeting of Rachel and Joe, Rechel's brother, Justin pranks Joe in the online chat room saying it's Rachel. The readers know it's Justin, but Joe is oblivious until the next strip, in which he confronts Rachel about the contents of their conversation.
- Officially known as the Wanderer, although no one calls him that. He is called The Cheese because his armor, a life-support suit made of unknown alloys, looks as if it were crafted from cheese. Presumably, this is because of the suit's age. Not much is known about the Cheese, except that he appears to know everything and is incredibly powerful, possibly pan-dimensional (Walky has jokingly compared him to God). He possesses the ability to bestow Martian technological enhancements on a whim and a quasi-omniscience that allows him to detect imbalances in the universe, which he eliminates; for this reason, it is almost a certain means of summoning him when someone utilizes the Power Booster Rod. Additionally, he can move between the planes of a single dimension at will. JFO fled their last dimension after he discovered them. During the Seventh Power, it is hinted that he destroyed magic in this dimension.
- A reverse duplicate of Head Alien made with the Dup-o-Matic during the Melonpool crossover. His body was taken over by Head Alien (and he is assumed to have died) during the final battle.
- A mysterious artifact of great power, the Power Booster Rod first appeared to be nothing more than a joke, a simple tree branch that some aliens worshipped. SEMME later confiscated it from the Aliens, and it sat in storage until Head Alien attacked Denver. Its true power was then suddenly, shockingly revealed when Sal seized it, unleashing from it a wave of yellow energy that covered the entire North American continent.
- The origin of the Power Booster Rod would later become clearer. When the JFO fled their native dimension, they were required to replace the lost matter with an equal amount from the Walkyverse, or their universe would eventually be destroyed. The mass was teleported from the "Walkyverse" into Chesterfield's native universe, converted into energy, and sealed within a tree branch. However, Dargon then took the tree branch with him as he crossed over between the worlds.
- For some unexplained reason, only those with Martian DNA are able to unlock the energy with the tree branch, which, when unleashed, effectively creates omniscience, allowing the wielder of the branch to sense everything in existence. The energy may also be ignited as the wielder sees fit, to devastating effect. While within the branch, the energy is sealed, posing no threat, but it is extraneous to our dimension (it was intended to take the place of Dargon and co. in their universe, but instead it remains in the Walkyverse along with them, essentially making the Walkyverse "top heavy"), so when it is unleashed, it threatens the balance of our universe, hence the activation of the Power Booster Rod always attracts the attention of the Cheese.
- There is still a greater mystery at work, however – what was a tree branch doing lying in the middle of a London alley? And why was it, as the technician responsible for transferring the mass/energy to it described it, "sparkly"? Evidently, there was something abnormal at work before the energy was even transferred into the branch.
Acronyms and terms
Some commonly used acronyms and terms relating to IW! Used mainly in the forums.
- DYW: Stands for "Damn You Willis!". Exclamation of anger directed towards the cartoonist. Suffered from some inflation during the finish due to heavy overuse.
- PSL: Stands for "Perverse Sexual Lust". Usually used to describe people's attraction to the fictional characters (usually Joyce or Sal).
- JFO: Stands for "Jason's Father's Organization", the group of interdimensional travellers including Dargon Chesterfield and Penny Worthington. After Dargon's death, this acquired the cognomen Penny's Militant Stormtroopers, with the double entendre abbreviation of PMS.
- Lawsome: The name of a fake strip that was announced as a successor of the comic as a joke. Featured the two most disagreeable characters travelling around the world, laughing at and then kicking various people and objects. Among fans, has replaced the word "Awesome".
- PBR: Stands for "Power Booster Rod", the branch containing energy from the JFO's home universe.
- Wiigii!: A hasty mistype of the exclamation "Woohoo!" once made in a personal conversation with David Willis. The term is pronounced "wee jee" and is commonly used by fans of Willis. It is also used several times in the strip, mainly by Walky, but also on occasion by other characters such as Joyce.
- Smut Without Warning!: A self-contradictory phrase used by the fans (and Willis himself) to indicate that a message board posting contains non-work-safe material. Occasionally used jokingly to refer to non-pornographic images (including, in at least one instance, a picture of a corn plant infected with corn smut).
Awards and accolades
- 2002 Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards -- Best Science Fiction Comic
- 2004 Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards -- Finalist for Outstanding Comic and Outstanding Writing
- Toon Art: The Graphic Art of Digital Cartooning by Steve Withrow -- Featured in "A Showcase of the best Sci-Fi in the Business," pp115
- A History of Webcomics by T Campbell -- "Chapter Seven: Money Matters and the Modern Webcomic"
- Webcomics 2.0 by Steve Horton and Sam Romero -- pp12-15, 53, 148