For the last 15 years, Jeph Jacques has been sharing a world with us. It’s a world quite like our own, but different in some subtle and not so subtle ways. In the very first strip in August of 2003 we meet two of the central characters Marten Reed, a young office drone and musician and his rude, lascivious AnthroPC AI companion robot Pintsize. It gets both more, and oddly less weird from there. For instance, Artificial Intelligences seem to have no interest in taking over the world. or maybe they have and we haven’t noticed?.
The story centers around Marten, his best friend and roomie Faye Whitaker, her boss at Coffee of Doom the aggressively bisexual Dora Bianchi, and their neighbor the clinically neurotic Hannelore Ellicot-Chatham. The storylines initially focused on Marten and Faye as they navigated post-millennium malaise, griped about relationships and snarked about indie music. But as the cast grew and Jeph’s drawing and writing skills grew along with it, QC became something much more ambitious.
Imagine Friends with an updated sense of social justice. The cast is diverse across multiple spectrums, from the effusively polyamorous librarian Tai Hubbert, Marten’s girlfriend Claire, a trans woman, to Faye’s girlfriend (!) Bubbles, a retired military AnthroPC suffering from PTSD. Jeph has been particularly adept at addressing some pretty deep emotional issues throughout there series with kindness and humility. And he stands by his characters as if they are friends. For instance he has promised that there will never be any stories or jokes about Claire’s “junk” in response to nosy Twitter trolls.
The stories are sexy without being exploitative, raunchy without being puerile, and rude without being crude. Jeph has explored whether friends can or should become lovers, grand romances and quick flings alongside frustrations and loneliness. QC has dealt with questions about how we interact with technology and culture, how to be a good or bad friend, or a good or bad parent. His characters feel very real, even when they are up to seriously outlandish shenanigans, like when they had to disable the military laser that Pintsize’s new chassis had been accidentally shipped with, or when they went to the Space Station that Hannelore grew up on.
16 years of storylines are too much to sum up in one blog post. I recommend diving in from the beginning. Treat it like a Netflix binge, it’s worth the time. If you have a couple bucks a month to toss in the hat, Jeph has a Patreon that can get you tomorrow’s strip today, as well as other Patreony goodies. And he has some sweet merch, including print editions with bonus content! Jeph’s also an excellent Twitter follow, and a good Tumblr. His other webcomic, a complete sci fi tale called Alice Grove, is also very cool.