Something Positive

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Something Positive
Something Positive logo.png
Something Positive logo, "Mr. Personality."
Author(s) R. K. Milholland
Website http://www.somethingpositive.net
Current status / schedule Active. Updating Monday to Friday
Launch date December 19, 2001 [1]
Genre(s) Dark humor

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.

S*P received a Web Cartoonist's Choice Award in 2005 for "Outstanding Character Writing,"[2] in 2006 for "Outstanding Dramatic Comic",[3] and has been nominated in seven additional categories spanning five years since 2002.[4][5][6][7]

Drawing style[edit]

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. Many of his strips have used repeated panels, commonly referred to as "xerography."

Cast[edit]

The comic's main characters are Davan MacIntire, Aubrey Chorde, PeeJee Shou, and Jason Chorde (formerly Pratchett). The supporting cast includes Davan's immediate family (Fred and Dahlia MacIntire) and his adopted sister Monette Donelly. Other cast members include Choo-Choo Bear, Davan's boneless cat, Pepito, the enigmatic Spanish-speaking love-midget, and 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 theater scene, living with and taking care of his ailing father. Davan is characterized by being melancholic, uninterested, cynical, sarcastic and cruel to anyone but his closest friends, and 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, where he worked in Medicaid Billing and worked in theater. His dating life is poor at best; all of his girlfriends and interests but two (Branwen and Vanessa) 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 with his friend Jason that led to a close-to-death experience in a webcomic panel. Davan is haunted by the suicide of Scotty, his best friend from childhood and the death of their mutual friend and former girlfriend Rose prior to the events of the comic. Davan periodically takes a father role with Donna's son Rory (Donna, his friend and one night stand and former girlfriend of Scotty's). Recently, Davan became engaged with his girlfriend Vanessa.
  • 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 adult films to offensive public-access television cable TV shows. Although not as violent as Pee Jee, her schemes frequently lead to a number of injuries and potential danger to anyone involved. Even in her childhood, Aubrey would show glimpses of borderline evil in her ways, which invariably involved Davan getting hurt; this would lead Davan to say that their friendship is based on mutual abuse. 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, her and Jason's adoption of their daughter Pamela Jocelyn (PamJee) as well as the success of Aubrey's business venture Nerdrotica[8] (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). 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.[9] 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 and her natural black during her first years on Texas). She met the group on the internet, and moved to Boston when they did. 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. She is currently living in Texas helping Davan take care of his father. She has recently expressed her desire to open up and run a new bar.
  • 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,[10] and his elaborate schemes (the biggest of all being "Nailed!: The Musical"). Jason is also the most placid and non-violent member of the group, and has a very close relationship with his mother and sister. His father, who was emotionally abusive, left the family when Jason was a young boy. For much of the strip's first few years, Jason was portrayed as a womanizer who was willing to do anything for sex and violently feared commitment. This changed when he and Aubrey moved in together at the end of 2003, an arrangement that led to their getting married in August 2006 and eventually adopting a child. He took her last name, wishing to distance himself from his father. The real Jason (whose name is Josh Pritchard) handles S*P's ad sales.

Secondary characters[edit]

  • 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. 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. Unfortunately the marriage of the much younger Faye to the "Widower MacIntire" caused a scandal in their hometown, and so then moved to Texas where they raised two children, Davan and Dahlia. They would later take in Monnette Donnelly, an acquaintance of Davan's, and later go on to legally adopt her. Faye was often known for being soft spoken and despite her heavy Baptist religious beliefs, very open-minded and non-judgmental. However, she also was known for having the sharpest tongue of her family. On January 27, 2006, she died in her sleep.[11]
  • Fred MacIntire is Davan's father. He and Davan do not always get along, both being prone to bickering. 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. Fred has had a hearing defect since childhood, needing a hearing aid later in his life. He thrives and argues with different characters about his goal of becoming a stereotypical old grouch, trumped easily by most people around him. In 2005 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease; he revealed his condition only to Davan,[12] but Davan informed other members of the family on the day of Faye's funeral.[13] The symptoms began to manifest in April 2007.[14]
  • 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. 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. Later, she was able to find her own place and moved out.
  • 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.[15] Convinced that, deep down, she was a lesbian, she enlisted Davan's help to fully make the transition.[16] Having some trouble, and a lot of setbacks, she traveled to Texas and moved in with the MacIntire family, shortly thereafter becoming formally adopted by them; Monette was disastrously lacking a good family, having been shunned by hers for most of her life. In January 2006, she moved to West Hollywood, California to become an actor, along with her girlfriend, Lisa. She stars in a sitcom called Wyred Sisters. In the show, she plays a character named "Davvy," a female version of Davan. She recently supported the WGA strike. Since adoption, some of the MacIntire family's sharp wit appears to have rubbed off on her.
  • 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[17] 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.[18] She is a close friend of Kestrel, and possibly attracted to her as well.
  • 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 Monette, but in recent strips she has taken on a more 'butch' appearance with lighter colored, shorter hair, loss of her prominent female lips, and wearing more masculine attire. Lisa has had great difficulty coming out of the closet, but eventually found out that even her father knew from the beginning that she was gay and blatantly so, even dropping hints at childhood.
  • Choo-Choo Bear, Davan's cat, 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,[19] a drink,[20] toilet paper, and freshly popped toast) to comedic and/or violent effect. Jhim allowed PeeJee to talk him into adopting him,[21] but later handed him off to Davan.[22] 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 ego-maniacal 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.
  • Originally, Milholland had decided to give Davan a long-suffering stray who would turn up dead two years into the comic. Then he decided that the comic's cat would be a devious and evil being owned by one of Davan's neighbors. He deliberately gave the character "the goofiest name an evil being could possess," "Choo-Choo Bear," to create contrast with its malice and the genuine threat would pose to Davan's health.[23] Some of these ideas were retained for the character Twitchy-Hug.
  • 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 geek'; 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 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, to which Mike responded with characteristic vitriol. After developing feelings for PeeJee but being rejected by her, their friendship grew from there, and a slow change in his behavior began. Although PeeJee did reject him, she appreciated his changes, and he ultimately became a better person, even getting back together with an old girlfriend, Tamara, and becoming a casual acquaintance of the rest of the S*P gang. 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. Mike, however, has recently fallen out of grace by his own hand once again after experiencing economic strains and leeching money from Aubrey, who gained him her enmity. Tamara has also kicked him out.
Recently, after reconciling with Tamara, Mike has taken a superhero identity known as The Pythagorean, which he uses to make minor good deeds to the community.
  • Tamara is Mike's life partner and the mother of his child. Tamara herself is as much a geek as the rest of the cast, but became a geek through different means, unpopular with other geeks, which has put her against Mike and his former friends several times. Mike and Tamara were high school sweethearts, though his attitude drove her away. After his "rehabilitation" Mike apologized to Tamara and she welcomed him to her life once again. Through Mike, Tamara was introduced to the rest of the cast which has received her wholeheartedly; even Aubrey is very vocal about their friendship, though everyone remains justifiably wary about Mike's self-sabotaging tendencies. To a point, Tamara is very tolerant of Mike's whining, but genuinely shows her drive to pursue a healthy mutual relationship. Mike's relationship with Tamara has caused a strain with his conservative family because of her race. Recently, Tamara kicked out Mike once again when he relapsed to his self-serving attitude. They recently got back together.
  • 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). 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. Nancy, along with Jhim, prompted Mike to take into vigilantism under the alias The Pythagorean. Both Nancy and Jhim expressed that they wished to become vigilantes themselves, though they didn't follow.
  • 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. Kestrel is somewhat innocent in her ways, which contrasts everyone else in the comic; because of this, most of the cast that comes in contact with her humorously questions her better judgement.
  • Dr. Cab Ledbetter is a retired physician who runs the St. James' Pub, the bar that Davan and company frequented while in Boston. 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. 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. The bar soon closed after Peejee's departure, and Cab has re-opened in a swankier location in Boston. He appears to miss the old crowd, however.
  • 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 blond 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. She slowly came out of her shell, when she decided to help a gay student get revenge for being untruthfully labeled as a rapist by a woman's safety group's ad campaign. Anna only rarely takes part in the strip currently, living away from most of the cast. She recently became engaged.[24] She has recently reappeared and is shown to be married to her fiance and have a child of her own.
  • Pepito Sanchezberg was 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. A much more arrogant and selfish Pepito was recently reunited with Davan, when they along with Jason were asked to be comic convention panelist for their catgirl webcomic Neko-Neko Holy-Chan. Fortunately, after Jason inadvertently insulted a crowd of bloodthirsty and psychotic Catgirls, Pepito was brutally killed and eaten alive by the Catgirls.[25] In the final strip of 2008, he is depicted in Hell, once again as Avagadro's sex slave.
  • Vanessa Cubbins is a sweet woman who's probably more easily scandalized than anyone else in S*P. In fact, she's probably the cast's last true innocent. After graduating from college with a degree in philosophy and religion she got a job at Texas bookstore, where she met Davan. After an awkward meeting, Davan and Vanessa began dating, and for the most part seem very content so far. Despite being shy and rather sweet, Vanessa has implied multiple times that she is bisexual and is attracted to "curvy girls".[26] Vanessa is an obsessive fan of My Little Pony and much to her delight, being a rather short and young-looking woman, through her now friend PeeJee she has become acquainted with reenacting kaijuu films and stomping through scaled city models while wearing a monster costume. Vanessa used to be notoriously rebellious in her teens, though she grew it out. In a late night chat with Davan she reveals that she is quitting her job and is going off to college. Davan then expresses his love and his intent to stick it out for the long haul. It was then she asked Davan to marry her, ending the current year and leaving the readers in a cliff-hanger.
  • 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, and Milholland himself has suggested that redemption is not in the cards for her.[27] An accident with a spray can caused severe burns, resulting 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 was placed in prison, apparently slipping into insanity, as Fluffmodeus has appeared, speaking to her directly (and apparently has savagely beaten her tormentors at the prison). After constant threats against her life, many led by the Warden, Kharisma was finally moved to a safer prison by order of the Governor. On the way to her new prison, Kharisma's transport was knocked off the road, and Kharisma was kidnapped by her pen-pal Gregory. Gregory, a teddy bear rescuer (from sex deviants), whose mission involves torture and maiming, takes care of Kharisma until she realizes the nature of his ways. Kharisma escapes and is fleeing from the law at the moment. She has been stripped completely of her former pride because of the battery of her experiences, leaving behind only a borderline stupid person.
After some time fleeing the law, Kharisma has dyed her hair blonde, has taken the name Nancy and makes a living babysitting drug users to prevent them from hurting themselves or overdosing. She still has hallucinations involving Fluffmodeus, who constantly tries to push her into his murderous ways, though she rebuffs him. She has since shown a faint increase of maturity, intelligence and sullenness.

Minor and irregular characters[edit]

  • Jhim Midgett 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 supposedly completely unaware of her attraction to him. Like a majority of the cast, Jhim has had bad luck with relationships: two of his most noted boyfriends were either cheating on him, or too far in the Closet. He moved to Washington DC after losing his job, but recently returned to Boston. It is implied that he is finally in a happy relationship with another man. Jhim recently moved back to Boston and with Nancy's support prompted Mike to take the mantle of the vigilante known as The Pythagorean. He and Nancy have also wanted to take onto vigilantism, though their identies where not revealed until later. Jhim's alter-ego is Jhim-Dandy.
  • 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[when?] quit. Soon after he allowed Cab's son Berenger to move in with him temporarily. Its been over year and they still live together, much to T-Bob's annoyance. At some point the pair of them moved to Los Angeles.
  • 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 someone. She's very prone to showing a lot of flesh, whether intentionally or not, since she played the lead on a couple of Aubrey's and Jason's schemes. 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 midget 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. In the final strip of 2008, Avagadro is apparently in Hell, once again abusing the recently deceased Pepito. Recently, Avagadro has been revealed as Ollie's caretaker and mentor, and that despite being emotionally and sexually abusive towards his nephew (even taking pride of it openly), he took Ollie in largely because his brother and sister-in-law (Ollie's parents) were secretly physically abusive towards Ollie.
  • Ollie 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, but the play was canceled when it turned out that Ollie lied and had not obtained the rights to Shock Treatment. It has been revealed that Ollie was a rather clumsy child because of his parents abuse. It has since been revealed that he is Avagadro's loyal nephew, despite the fact that Avagadro hated him and himself abused Ollie sexually and emotionally. He is still engaged to Kharisma upon her imprisonment, still unaware of her gold-digging motives, although she expresses it out loud in a number of occasions. Ollie has spent a number of years cleaning Avagadro's name and destroying evidence of any of his wrongdoing, revealing a disturbing Machiavellian streak that he hides from everyone. After encountering Davan, Ollie reveals that he still holds a notoriously unjustified grudge against him, expecting Davan to react to this; the conversation backfires for Ollie, since Davan cannot help but feel sorry for him.
  • Lawrence 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 and retains Davan as an employee despite him now living primarily in Texas. He was a close friend to Ollie's parents. Sanderson is very friendly with Davan and Fred, even sometimes trying to instigate Davan to be a little less professional.
  • 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.[28] He has since been seen in flashbacks. Scotty committed suicide after a failed trip out of home led him back to Texas once again; soon after, Davan and Aubrey moved to Boston, leading him to believe that his friends were not as loyal to him as he was towards them. After a descending spiral of self-loathing and growing distant, a cancelled date with his girlfriend Donna provided him with an excuse to self-overdose with a bottle of pills.
  • Donna, Scotty's former girlfriend. Scotty would eventually take his own life after she cancelled a date with him. Donna would eventually come in contact with Davan, which led to a one night stand. Pregnant soon after with Rory, Donna would contact Davan once again to find out whether he is the child's father. Davan ends up not being Rory's natural father, but a family bond starts to form between him, PeeJee, Fred, Donna and Rory, to which Donna relies upon greatly.
  • Rory, Donna's son and Davan's son-of-sorts. An extremely conscientious child, Rory is well aware of the benefits of being a child and readily abuses them. Rory is almost as caustic as Davan himself is, and uses the prospect of future tantrums and hissy fits to get what he wants. Rory is very receptive towards the bad influence of everyone around him, although he can be a really sweet child. Most of his experiences and attitudes are attributed to Milholland's own childhood.[29] Though Rory knows that Davan is not his natural father, it's shown in a panel showing the future that his friends at least consider Davan to be Rory's dad.[30]
  • Rose, Davan's first crush and childhood friend, she grew up in an abusive and alcoholic household. Because of this, Rose would always want Davan to be more receptive towards her. It's implied that after high school, she began to drink heavily as well and avoid her childhood friends. She has only been seen in flashbacks, as she died in a car accident prior to the beginning of the strip. Davan greatly pains when Rose is mentioned to him, as their parting words were less than pleasant.
  • 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[31] and several references to him, he did not appear in the strip until August 2007.[32]
  • 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.
  • Berenger Ledbetter is the son of Cab Ledbetter. Upon his first introduction Berenger was a rude and arrogant boy who spent his childhood getting kicked out of school and using the word 'gay' to describe anything he didn't like. After living with his father and associating with the main cast (as well as getting severely beaten by PeeJee), his behavior shifted to a minor extent. In order to make some money, Berenger began to model for gay porn ads, which caused a massive fight with his father. He then moved in with T-Bob, and now does full-out gay-for-pay porn in LA.
  • 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. They had a no-strings attached sexual relationship, which soon ended when Linzie began dating someone seriously.
  • 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.[33][34] His feet were later apparently used in the construction of an ashtray, which Davan presented as a gift to Nancy, and his skull used as a milk saucer for Choo-Choo.
  • 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.[35] Shortly after, he appeared in S*P, now as some sort of Spectral entity [36] that appears to be only visible to Kharisma. He was apparently responsible for the severe beating of an inmate who threatened Kharisma.[37] His name was finally revealed in the January 21, 2008 strip.[38] 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.
  • Helen A guest character in Something Positive, hailing originally from Penny and Aggie. Helen is a runaway teen who intended to land a job as a phone sex operator at Aubrey's company, Nerdrotica. Unfortunately for Helen, a mix-up with her fake ID blew her cover and notified Nancy of her status as a minor. Her fate is so far unknown, but she is crashing on Nancy's couch until a decision is made about contacting her parents. Helen fled high school due to bullying and interpersonal conflicts and recently, she has filed a legal emancipation against her parents. Helen, as shown also on Penny and Aggie, has a tendency to be very vocal when she's drunk, the very reason that sparked her problems at home.
  • Eva Ex-girlfriend of Davan. There were always inconveniences when Eva and Davan would try to get intimate; frustrated and harboring the (unjustified) feeling that Davan would put his friend's wishes before hers, she resorted to cheat on him. Even then, she would try to damage Davan's relationship with his friends. Davan eventually found out that she was cheating, and broke off the relationship. After their break-up, it was shown that she and Jason had formed a friendship and occasionally showed up when she needed solace from her life to talk to Jason, although most of the cast would prefer to hurt her. In 2007, she was arrested for domestic abuse. Recently, she reconciled with Davan.
  • Branwen Ex-girlfriend of Davan. Davan and Branwen met at a Halloween party. They lost contact after that, though later, Davan found out that Branwen is Mike's cousin through her mother. Davan and Branwen pursued they relationship, which was marred by Mike's intervention. Branwen came from a dysfunctional family composed of a religious fanatic, her mother, and a closeted homosexual, her father. In turn, Mike (coming from the same family background) always looked for solace in Branwen, and she always tried to make Mike lose his conflict-driven ways. After a year of dating, Branwen was offered her dream job but would have to move to Vancouver. Davan let her go. She was married to her dream man until 2007 when they divorced and she is still living in Vancouver. Davan still has constant contact with Branwen.

Non-characters[edit]

  • 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 D&D. Milholland actually created a D&D game stats card[39] for them as a substitute for a comic one day. The Redneck Trees were also picked up by Steve Jackson Games for the "Clerical Errors" Munchkin expansion sets.[40]

Setting and storyline[edit]

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, one with Scandal Sheet!, and more recently one with Girls With Slingshots. 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. Many targets and groups are mocked- opinions Milholland himself disrespects are usually derided in-comic.

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%. However, Milholland has recently commented that the characters now have only the barest relation to the people they were once based on. Moreover, the character's opinions are not his own. He has stated "I find it funny when detractors claim Davan is who I think people should be and is "cool" - it proves they've never spoken to me or done a bit of research. Davan's an asshole and a lot of the misery he's gone through, he brought on himself."

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[edit]

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".[41] 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[edit]

  • Direct as well as oblique references to "the lovable, huggable Ed Gein" appear throughout the comic.
  • Jokes about clichés of places and ethnicity, particularly concerning Canada and Texas.
  • References to GURPS, a role playing game system.
  • References to 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). Most recently, one of Peejee's co-workers, a woman who was sexually harassing Peejee, fell victim to the Alligator, attacking from an over-head air vent rather than a trap door. Management hired an exterminator, but it's likely the alligator escaped.
  • Choo-choo Bear's amorphous qualities.
  • Peejee is type-cast by her friends as being attracted to gay men, following a long-time crush on Jhim, and later discovering her boyfriend of several years came out as gay shortly after she broke up with him (through a savage beating). Originally, Randy intended for Davan to have a history of being attracted to lesbians, and it was even implied that two of his ex-girlfriends became lesbians after dating him. This plot point was dropped, and changed over to Peejee instead.
  • Mike's callousness and self-centered tendencies, and his longtime enmity with Peejee would provide major story lines earlier in the comic. This was somewhat dropped after the two reconciled.
  • 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,[42] and has been seen in Hell;[43] it is implied in the cartoon of January 11, 2009 that he has been reincarnated, and is now a small boy.
  • 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.
    • A repeating means of almost killing characters is by a mysterious red car, which will run over characters. So far, only one character, Silas, has been successfully killed by the red car. Kestrel and Shirley Koklick were both run down by the red car but managed to survive after brief comas. It was originally believed that Avagadro and his nephew Ollie (who was giving Avagadro oral sex) were responsible for the hits, but Shirley was struck down long after Avagadro's death, leaving into question whether Ollie is responsible, or if it was merely a coincidence.
  • 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,[44] 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; counterexamples include 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; Kim and Kestrel are shown in a positive light.)

Spin-offs[edit]

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.
Main article: New Gold Dreams
  • 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 2009.
  • 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."

References[edit]

  1. ^ strip of December 19, 2001
  2. ^ "The 2005 Cartoonist's Choice Awards". Web Cartoonist Choice Awards. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  3. ^ "The 2006 Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards 2006:Outstanding Dramatic Comic". Web Cartoonist Choice Awards. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  4. ^ "The 2002 Cartoonist's Choice Awards". Web Cartoonist Choice Awards. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  5. ^ "The 2003 Cartoonist's Choice Awards". Web Cartoonist Choice Awards. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  6. ^ "The 2004 Cartoonist's Choice Awards". Web Cartoonist Choice Awards. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  7. ^ "The 2007 Cartoonist's Choice Awards". Web Cartoonist Choice Awards. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  8. ^ "Strip of June 10, 2004 (Dial-A-Aubrey pt 2)". somethingpositive.net. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  9. ^ strip of February 8, 2003
  10. ^ strip of August 11, 2005
  11. ^ strip of January 27, 2006
  12. ^ strip of November 23, 2005
  13. ^ strip of February 9, 2006
  14. ^ strip of April 22, 2007
  15. ^ strip of December 31, 2001
  16. ^ strip of January 2, 2002
  17. ^ strip of January 28, 2003
  18. ^ strip of November 29, 2005
  19. ^ strip of December 16, 2002
  20. ^ strip of November 15, 2003
  21. ^ strip of January 14, 2002
  22. ^ strip of January 16, 2002
  23. ^ "Reader Q&A," July 5, 2009
  24. ^ strip of July 30, 2008
  25. ^ strip of November 19, 2008
  26. ^ March 4, 2010 strip discusses sexual relationship between Vanessa and Davan.
  27. ^ strip of December 6, 2006
  28. ^ strip of April 16, 2002
  29. ^ http://strip of November 7, 2012
  30. ^ strip of March 20, 2013
  31. ^ strip of February 5, 2006
  32. ^ strip of August 3, 2007
  33. ^ strip of May 24, 2006
  34. ^ The Pet Professional for Wednesday, May 24, 2006- By Jason Salsbury
  35. ^ strip of December 26, 2006
  36. ^ strip of January 13, 2007
  37. ^ strip of March 23, 2007
  38. ^ strip of January 21, 2008
  39. ^ strip of May 4, 2002
  40. ^ Munchkin 3 Clerical Error description on Steve Jackson's website
  41. ^ strip of October 19, 2006
  42. ^ strip of May 30, 2006
  43. ^ strip of October 8, 2006
  44. ^ "nerdrotica.com". Retrieved 3 August 2012. 

External links[edit]