|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2011)|
A sample QC panel, featuring characters (L-R) Faye, Marten, and Pintsize.
|Current status / schedule||Updates every weekday|
|Launch date||August 1, 2003|
|Genre(s)||Humor/Slice of life|
Questionable Content (abbreviated QC) is a slice of life webcomic written and drawn by Jeph Jacques. It was launched on August 1, 2003. Jacques currently makes his living exclusively from QC merchandising and advertising, making him one of the few professional webcomic artists. By 2004, Jacques was able to support himself and his future wife based on income from merchandise and advertising sales. On August 26, 2011, the comic reached its 2000th strip.
The plot centers on Marten Reed, an indie rock aficionado; his roommate, Faye Whitaker; and Faye's boss, Dora Bianchi. Supporting characters include employees of the local coffee shop, neighbours and anthropomorphized personal computers. QC's storytelling style combines romantic melodrama, sitcom, humor about indie rock music, and sexual humor while considering questions of relationships, futurism, artificial intelligence, sexuality and dealing with emotional trauma. The artistic style has notably changed over the lifetime of the comic, as Jacques has been constantly refining his drawing methods. He has on occasion redrawn older strips in his more recent drawing style.
In 2003, Jacques worked at a local Easthampton, Massachusetts, newspaper answering telephones. According to Jacques, the large amount of free time and access to the Internet led him to read webcomics "as something to do". Jacques stated that of the webcomics he read, "I've always been really interested in music, and indie rock specifically, and I never saw any other comics that dealt with that aspect of our culture. I felt like there was a niche there that would work."
Originally, Questionable Content was updated twice a week, and later bumped to three strips a week. In September 2004, Jacques left his day job to begin updating Monday through Friday, and kept this schedule even after a knife accident that sliced an artery in his drawing hand in 2006. QC's thousandth strip appeared on October 26, 2007 and on August 26, 2011, the comic reached its milestone 2000th strip. Unlike many other webcomic artists supported by their work, Jacques has not expanded his business outside of the comic and related merchandise.
According to Jacques, at one point he would have sought newspaper syndication for Questionable Content, but the thought no longer appeals to him because he does not want to surrender editorial freedom. Instead, Jacques planned a Questionable Content book. The first volume was released October 25, 2010 and contained the first 299 strips of the webcomic,the second on September 9, 2011.containing the second set of strips numbered 300 to 599 and The third volume was released in October of 2012 contained strips 600 to 899.
Both the methods of storytelling and the artistic style of the strip have changed considerably since its inception. Originally, Jacques intended the strip to be about "a depressed lonely guy and his robot", but the introduction of the female character Faye led to an increase in Jacques' ideas for the strip. While QC is still seen as one of the main rock comic strips, the story has come to focus more on the character development and humor of the strip. Jacques informed interviewers that he makes sure every individual QC strip "has at least one thing in it that someone who does not know anything about obscure band x would find funny."
Jacques spoke on the evolution of his art in an interview at ComixTalk in March 2006:
|“||The art is constantly changing, as anybody who reads the comic for more than two weeks could probably tell you. I'm always trying different things with the artwork- it's been a goal from day one to continually improve my drawing ability, and I think it's finally beginning to get to the point where I'm halfway decent at it. It's basically survival of the fittest- changes that I think fit in with the overall look I'm going for stick around and get refined, and changes that do not fit in get phased out, sometimes in the course of three or four strips, sometimes over a much longer span of time. I'm trying to get better at using different "camera angles" in each panel and doing more involved backgrounds, both of which are really just a matter of being patient and taking my time with the artwork. There's still tons of room for improvement, and always will be, but I think I'm at least making progress.||”|
—Jeph Jacques, ComixTalk
Jacques uses a Wacom Cintiq graphics tablet (previously a Wacom Intuos) to draw his strips and Adobe Photoshop to color them. He cites Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes and the webcomic Scary Go Round as his main influences.
Questionable Content takes place in Northampton, Massachusetts. Frequent settings include an apartment shared by Marten and Faye; Coffee of Doom, Dora's coffee shop, where Faye, Raven, Penelope and Hannelore work; and Smif College's Williston Library where Marten is employed. (The real Williston Library is at Mount Holyoke College; the public library in Easthampton, Jacques's current residence, is also called the Williston Library. The main library at Smith—our universe's analogue to Smif—is Neilson.) The comic is mostly realistic (with occasional bouts of absurdity), and action primarily focuses on banter between the characters, with slowly-progressing plot developments. Due to the emphasis on inter-character dialogue, Jacques rarely uses thought bubbles in the comic.
The comic appears to be set in modern times, though the presence of anthropomorphic robots with individual personalities (called "AnthroPCs" within the comic) implies some sort of futuristic technology. However all music and band references in the comic are current at the time of each individual strip's publishing. The AnthroPCs are the only consistent signs of advanced technology in the series. When other technological advances are referenced, they rarely get developed beyond one or two strips. Some of the memorable technological creations in QC are the Deathbot 9000; a Vespa scooter that transforms into a battle droid; humans living permanently in space, and orbital defense satellites capable of conversation. Jacques remarked of the setting:
|“||Something people do not often realize is that the world in which QC takes place is considerably stranger than our own. You'd think that with all the little talking robots running around everywhere that this would be obvious, but I am consistently surprised at how often people take it for granted.||”|
—Jeph Jacques, Questionable Content
The internal chronology of the strip is somewhat ambiguous; on January 13, 2006, Jeph Jacques stated on a LiveJournal fan community that he has "never sat down and exactly tabulated," but he suspects the total amount of elapsed QC time at that point was "no more than six months." In a Q&A Tumblr post on January 23, 2012, Jacques estimated that it had been "at least a couple years in comic-time since the strip started."
- Marten Reed is QC's main character, and the first character to be introduced at the strip's beginning. He is an indie rock fan and former "office bitch" (actual title at work) who now works as a library assistant. Marten lives with Faye, whom he was romantically interested in for many months before he began dating Dora. As of strip 1799, however, Marten and Dora have broken up. He has no pets, but owns an AnthroPC named Pintsize. Marten is the lead guitarist in a band named Deathmøle with neighbors Amir, Hannelore and formerly Natasha.
- Faye Whitaker is an employee at Coffee of Doom. She moved to Northampton from Savannah, Georgia, two years after a nervous breakdown resultant from witnessing her father's suicide. Faye lives with Marten, who took her in (initially temporarily) after she burned down her apartment with a toaster. Faye is known for her quick wit, sharp tongue (usually used affectionately), and her physically abusive nature and casual sadism towards her friends. Faye was celibate for a long time, then impulsively slept with Dora's brother Sven. A short time later, the two of them had a falling out when Sven confessed to sleeping with fictional country music starlet Gina Riversmith. Faye's first appearance was in comic number 3. She enjoys insulting customers at Coffee of Doom and it has been suggested that this habit has gained her a few male admirers — including Angus, who has since asked her out, causing Faye to worry about what to do. An impulsive and surprising kiss from Angus led to their first date, and Faye acknowledged her and Angus being a couple in strip 1943.
- Dora Bianchi is Marten's ex-girlfriend, a bisexual former goth who owns and operates the coffee shop Coffee of Doom. Unlike most of the main characters, she prefers metal to indie rock. Dora does graphic and web design in her spare time and claims to have a long history of social anxiety that she tries to hide with her use of sass. While her relationship with Marten was happy and steady for a long time, Dora's anxiety and trust issues (both of which seem to have resulted from her past relationships as well as Marten's history with Faye) put a strain on their relationship, which Dora eventually ended. Dora first appeared in comic 75. She has a black cat called Mieville and lived on her own until she moved in with Marten and Faye. After the break-up, Dora moved out on her own again to an apartment in Amherst. As a teenager, she had a crush on Marten's mother, an alternative pin-up model and professional dominatrix.
- Hannelore Ellicott-Chatham (nicknamed Hanners) is Marten's and Faye's eccentric upstairs neighbor, who lives in apartment number 33, 36, or 226. She has a rather severe case of obsessive–compulsive disorder, is an insomniac, and formerly counted things for a living. She now works for Coffee of Doom. Despite her pathological fastidiousness, Hannelore has five piercings in each ear. Hannelore has a raw talent for playing drums (which she describes as "counting with your whole body"); she was introduced to drumming by Marten, and has joined Deathmøle. Her parents are both billionaires, but her mother paid little attention to her; she was raised by her father in a space-station. Hannelore first appeared in comic 515.
- Pintsize is Marten's AnthroPC, and was the second character introduced in the comic's first strip. He is a companion to Marten and frequently used for comic relief, throw-away gags or to add punchlines to a strip. He is obsessed with cake batter, mischievous, impulsive, and filthy-minded, but generally good-hearted.
- Angus McPhee is a regular customer of Coffee of Doom, and has been romantically interested in Faye Whitaker for a while, though the level of reciprocation was left unclear for a long time until recently they started dating. Angus is employed as a 'professional strawman', losing debates intentionally to discredit the cause he is supposedly supporting, and enjoys Faye's rapier wit. He and Faye recently started dating, after an unexpected kiss while visiting her at the Coffee of Doom. Angus first appeared in comic 710, and is lactose intolerant.
- Marigold Louise Farmer is a very messy otaku who shares an apartment with Angus. She has repaired Pintsize for Marten in exchange for Hannelore's cleaning expertise. Marigold is an avid World of Warcraft player. She was very introverted when first introduced, but has since tried to become "less of a shut-in". Marigold first appeared in comic 1413. She also had a crush on her roommate Angus. She has a Japanese-style AnthroPC named Momo-tan. Her full name was disclosed by Hannelore while grounding Marigold for spending the night secretly playing video games instead of going to bed after being awake already for several days. (Her name is a reference to gold farming, an MMORPG practice in which a player spends a large amount of time gathering in-game resources to trade for in-game benefits or real money trading). Marigold later purchased a new chassis for Momo in exchange for Momo allowing her to play video games when Marigold was supposed to be grounded. Momo's new chassis is human-sized and resembles an adolescent girl with magenta hair and matching eyes. She is currently working at the library with Marten and Tai in order to help pay for the chassis.
- Winslow is Hannelore's Macintosh model AnthroPC. He resembles an oversized iPod with arms and legs. Though Winslow was initially taunted by Pintsize with "pictures of equine molestation," Marten assures Winslow that is really Pintsize's "idea of a welcome gift" and the two AnthroPCs are now friends. Winslow is a cautious foil to Pintsize's reckless nature. Winslow first appeared in comic 527.
- Raven Pritchard, a native of Houston, is an ex-goth friend of Dora's and a former junior employee at Coffee of Doom. Although she is energetic and cheerful now, Dora claims that Raven was 20 pounds heavier in college and very depressed. Raven goes by her middle name as she dislikes her first name, Blodwyn (Welsh for 'White Flower'). While generally depicted as being somewhat 'air-headed' and oblivious, she has been known to display remarkable intellect and insight at times, and it has even been hinted that her mental 'slowness' might just be an act. Comic 1509 revealed that Raven is pursuing a doctorate in physics. Raven's parents both occupy professions that require a lot of mental capability. Raven has the Chinese character for "concubine" (姫 – which means "princess" in Japanese) tattooed on her left arm. Raven was first shown as an unnamed character in comic 46, and her first appearance as a regular character was in comic 102.
- Steve is one of Marten's close friends. Steve is described "more adept at dating than Marten". He is, however, prone to frequently going out of control after a break-up, and was tapped by an unspecified US intelligence agency because "nobody would believe [him] if [he] tried to expose [them]" in his drunken stupor. Steve first appeared in comic 3. He dates Cosette, who later is hired at Coffee of Doom.
- Sven Bianchi is Dora's older brother, a successful writer of country music songs. Sven has a very active love and sex life, though he claims to have calmed down. Sven and Faye had a physical relationship, although that physical relationship ended after Sven had a one-night stand with Gina Riversmith, a country singer. Sven first appeared in comic 328. He has a white cat named Princess.
- Penelope Gaines (often called Penny or Pen-pen over her objections, or will have her name pronounced to rhyme with "Antelope" to similar objections) is an employee of Coffee of Doom. She was suspected of having been the superhero Pizza Girl, formerly a recurring character, but later they encountered each other when Pizza Girl delivered a pizza to Penelope (however Faye didn't believe her). She was courted by Sven's friend Wil, a poet, but they only had two awkward dates before he decided to find himself on the road. He kept correspondence with her while he was away, and now that he has since returned, Penelope is helping Wil find work while he stays with her. Penelope first appeared in comic 698.
- Tai Hubbert studies English at Smif College, and is Marten's boss at the library. She is a lesbian with a very active and complicated love life, sports numerous tattoos on her arms, and is a great fan of Jimbo's romance novels. She also works as a DJ under the name Tai Fighter, her preferred genre of music being minimal techno. Tai first appeared in comic 691, and her last name was revealed in comic 2203. She had a crush on Dora for some time, and they had their first date in #2256–2264.
Questionable Content was used along with Penny Arcade, Fetus-X and American Elf as an example of comics using the web to create "an explosion of diverse genres and styles" in Scott McCloud's 2006 book Making Comics. The comic has been used in the Create a Comic Project, a New Haven, Connecticut youth literacy program sponsored in part by Yale University.
- Villarreal, Yvonne (May 22, 2009). "Comic strip artists feeling the squeeze". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 22, 2009.
- Jacques, Jeph (26 August 2012). "Yaoizone.cx". QuestionableContent. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Brown, Joel (August 29, 2008). "No question, he's a success; Easthampton artist's comic strip is a surprise hit on the Web (pg. 1)". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
- Farnsworth, Anna (October 21, 2007). "From doodles to Web star; Artist fulfills dream, finds success with online comic strip". The Boston Globe. p. R10.
- Jacques, Jeph. "You're Ruining The Moment (Newspost)". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph. "I Am Sorry, Arcade Fire Dude (Newspost)". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved July 29, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph (October 17, 2006). "Is it whining if I had a serious medical emergency? Probably". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Number 732: Bad Color Scheme". QuestionableContent.net.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Gratuitous Nudity!". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
- (ref name=qc2000Jacques, Jeph. "Yaoizone.cx". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- Hiltzig, Andrew (July 28, 2007). "Big boys enter the Web-comic arena". Los Angeles Times. p. E20. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- Brown, Joel (August 29, 2008). "No question, he's a success; Easthampton artist's comic strip is a surprise hit on the Web (pg. 2)". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph (October 25, 2010). "It Does a Body Good (Newspost)". Questionable Content. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- Jacques, Jeph (September 9, 2011). "PokeMasters (Newspost)". Questionable Content. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
- Moorman, Trent (March 6, 2007). "Toilet Humor". The Stranger. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- O'Rourke, Matt (March 16, 2007). "Pioneer Valley comic artist uses the web to reach readers". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- Curtis, George (March 2006). "Questionable Creator: George Curtis Interviews Jeph Jacques". ComixTalk.com. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Over The Bodies Of The Fallen".
- Jacques, Jeph. "That One Never Gets Old". QuestionableContent.net.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Accostation". QuestionableContent.net.
- Jacques, Jeph. "A Very Literal Flame-War". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Custom Package". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Made from Cows?". QuestionableContent.net. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Her Arch-Nemesis."
- Jacques, Jeph (January 13, 2006). "Question". QC_Comic. LiveJournal. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph (January 23, 2012). "QA Dump #24". jephjacques.com. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Ordonorff, Patrick (August 18, 2008). "10 Great Webcomics You Should Not Share With Your Kids". Wired. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph. "A Democratic Decision".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Bad News".
- Jacques, Jeph. "The Talk, Part 5".
- Jacques, Jeph. "The Most Dangerous Toast".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Poison Dart Insults".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Burns".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Achtung Nipple".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Vision Test".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Microcosm".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Don't Say It".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Questions".
- Jacques, Jeph. "He Is So Smooth".
- Jacques, Jeph. "No Fit State".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Miss Manners".
- Jacques, Jeph. "NSFW Content".
- Jacques, Jeph. "True Professionals".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Cockegaard".
- Jacques, Jeph. "SURPRISE".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Lose 4 Turns".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Her Blemfrem".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Much Too Much Information".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Hipster Sweeties".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Manly Drinks".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Lost In Translation".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Cheat Sheets".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Tracking Sounds Alone".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Provocative".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Dreams Come True".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Be Prepared".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Those Damn Windows Took Forever To Draw".
- Jacques, Jeph. "I Would Be Terrible At That Job".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Shame,shame".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Actually They Do It In Every Song".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Smokin' In The Boys Room".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Stephen Colbert Incorporated".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Regularity".
- Jacques, Jeph. "All That And A Bottle Of De Grave".
- Jacques, Jeph. "FOR THE HORDE".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Oh The Memories".
- Jacques, Jeph. "YAOI ZONE".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Secret Crush".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Just Because You're Paranoid".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Odd Time For An Alarm".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Those Poor Horsies".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Post-Dinner Conversation".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Holy, Shining Flower".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Quite Beyond Her".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Nice Jacket, Raven".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Stop Poking Me".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Mneep Mneep".
- Japanese dictionary entry for 姫
- Jacques, Jeph. "Hot Topic is going to sue me".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Curses".
- Jacques, Jeph. "QC Cast Page". QuestionableContent.net. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
- Jacques, Jeph. "Her Name Is Tortura And She Is Happy To Meet You".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Ask and Ye Shall Receive".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Comrades At Arms".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Achy Breaky".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Break Out The Polygraph".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Check Your Local Listings".
- Jacques, Jeph. "He's Quite Tall".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Humans Have Problems Too".
- Jacques, Jeph. "For Some Reason A Witty Title Is Eluding Me".
- Jacques, Jeph. "...OR IS SHE???".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Not Sure What Her Super-Power Actually Is".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Mo Chaucer Mo Problems".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Or Born To Be Wild".
- Jacques, Jeph. "Hubbert's Peak".
- McCloud, Scott (2006). Making Comics. New York City: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-078094-0.
- McLoughlin, Pamela (March 19, 2007). "Cartoons propel creative process". New Haven Register. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
- "WCCA Awards". Retrieved September 13, 2008.
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