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A Stress Puppy Primer

A comment I just received from misled_legend  reminded me that a lot of people here on LJ aren't familiar with Stress Puppy.  So, in an attempt at an overdue introduction, here's a quick overview of the series.

The main characters:

Rafferty Daniels.  A dog, specifically a golden retriever.  Raff is a middle manager at International Transglobal, or ITG for short (I have implied the series takes place in Chicago, but haven't explicitly stated it).  Raff is sort of the voice of reason, and as such, he is usually the one acting as a mediator between different people, different departments, different levels of management, whatever.  Raff is an expert at keeping things steady and at subtle manipulations when the situation calls for it.  He's mostly a live and let live guy, and is primarily interested in keeping the peace.  Because he is the pointman for conflict, when others are at loggerheads, he swings between defeatism (it hasn't appeared yet, but the honor bar in his office is stocked with Pepto Bismol, Maalox, and the like instead of booze) and fatalism (in one strip, when a porn actress was hired to give the employees a pep talk, Raff tested if he could hang himself by his tie from the sprinkler pipes in his office.  The tie tore instead).  He's an avid reader and an Episcopalian.  He's also an anglophile (has tea and scones at the local coffee shop, he mostly watches BBC America at home, imports Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars, will occassionally use British slang, etc.).  He's also a Harry Potter nut.  Raff's Palm Pilot has a program that triagulates the positions of people in ITG based on their cell phone signals and displays them on a map.  The map is voice activated -- to start it, he says, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" and taps the Palm Pilot with the stylus, then closes it by saying "Mischief managed" and tapping it again.  He and his two nephews have their own wizard rock band called "The Hogwarts Hall Monitors", and one of their CD's is called, "One Wand To Rule The All."

Holly Faraday.  A red fox.  Raff may be the star, but Holly gets the best lines.  Holly is Raff's work buddy -- they are friends who mutually respect each other, but nothing more (I didn't want their friendship to be based on romantic longing, I wanted it to be genuine).  She is also his frequent partner in crime when reason can't solve the conflict.  I created Holly to be a genuinely empowered woman, and the reason she is a fox is I wanted her to epitomize the whole "clever as a fox" thing.  Holly is a propellerhead and the CTO at ITG.  She has a 168 IQ.  As such, she is a science nut and computer guru (and she knows what strong coffee really is).  A big supporter of Open Source and Linux, she's even contributed to different builds and programs in Intercal.  Raff and Holly share a similar starting point for their views, but they diverge quite radically -- Raff looks for reason and compromise.  Holly is an unrepentant anarchist.  She was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school, and her rebelious streak got her in no end of trouble (she mentions she had trouble saying "superior" after "mother").  She is single and also sexually active, but she's not desperate or a slut about it.  If she decides to go to bed with some guy, it's because she wants to, not to bargain for affection, and she's picky about who she chooses.  She is an avid reader, anime nut, and a Ringer (Lord Of The Rings nut) who has an Eye Of Sauron night light, and she and Raff will frequently needle each other about the fandoms they participate in.  She is jealous of Raff's Marauder's Map and is working on her own, but she's "having trouble with the Eye Of Sauron interface".  Holly also derives most of her income outside of ITG.  She has an astonishing array of side businesses, such as selling the doughnuts left over from meetings as day-olds to other departments or an album of nothing but gas noises (#4,228 on Amazon).  When asked why she still works at ITG, she says, "Beer money."  There are ways to buy Holly off, the most frequent tactic involving Rice Krispie Treats.  If she balks, Raff has a stash made with Fruity Pebbles, as well.  That usually does it.

Justin Kale.  A horse.  Justin is the head of HR.  Justin means well, but he's relatively young (he's only thirty).  He tends to focus more on how things should be and new approaches.  He doesn't much care for the old ways and standards.  Raff sort of gets along with him and sort of doesn't, when Justin lets his focus and certainty get in the way (Justin is a horse because I liked the thought of the character permanently looking down his nose at the world).  He and Holly clash quite frequently -- each of them represents something the other truly doesn't like, and they will screw with each other if the opportunity presents itself.

Damocles Oliver Mintner.  A penguin.  Those he is chummy with call him "Dom" for short.  Dom is the CEO.  He and Raff are work friends.  He trusts Raff's observations and judgement and will push through certain things that need to be done.

Raquel.  A raccoon.  Dom's secretary.  She is a one-stop shop for information about what is going on at ITG.  She knows all.  Raff will frequently talk to her for inside information, and she keeps an eye out for things he might need to know.

Clayton Davidson.  A sea gull.  An administrative assistant, Clay is literally a sea gull manager (a manager that flies in, shits all over everything, then flies away, leaving others to clean up the mess).  Clay is a shifty opportunist.  Everyone knows it, and he doesn't understand why he's not moving any higher up the corporate ladder.  Any time he appears, he has some crazy scheme meant to make him look good or solidify his power base of kiss-ups and underlings.  Raff is his frequent nemesis.

Running gags:

Furries don't like the strip.  When I first started working on the strip, I did a bunch of test strips to get feedback.  All the feedback (comic readers, non-comic readers, office types, etc.) was positive except for one group -- the furries.  Six of the seven test readers HATED the strip (the other thought it was just okay).  Apparently, my strip violates a whole slew of unwritten rules about what a furry comic strip is supposed to be like.  For example, according to them, Holly is supposed to be a stand-in for the stereotypical blonde -- oversexed, undersmart, and good for only one thing (the very first comment I got from the furries, in fact, was "Holly's breasts should be bigger").  I didn't want to change the strip, and I turned the negative reaction into a running gag.

Paris Hilton.

Harry Potter vs. Lord Of The Rings.

Bad stand-up.  Every once in a while, Holly will grab a microphone and just start telling bad jokes ("I wanted to be born again, but mom said, 'No.'").

MythBusters.  Holly's office is designated on the building map as M5.  She also has a lexan shield and a Redman suit.  The characters will occassionally say, "Well, THERE'S your problem!" and other such trappings.

Hmm...I think that's the nuts and bolts of things.....


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
I have something new (at least for me) to look forward to! This actually is quite interesting and can't wait to see more. Probably the reason why I had no idea about this comic is that for years I was without a computer so when the webcomics started to get really overactive I was out of the loop.

Thanks for clarifing things for me and for everyone else!
Aug. 10th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
If you click on the Stress Puppy link on the left, it will take you to the archives for what ran at Hard Way Studios, over two years of strips. Also, the Stress Puppy tag on my page should bring up all the strips and postings reflecting on them from here as well.

You didn't miss much. Stress Puppy, for whatever reason, never really caught on. Not a surprise -- for every PvP or User Friendly, there are dozens of failed web comics. I didn't expect it to be a hit, I did it mostly for fun. That's why I'm maintaining the strip on my blog -- I can't bring myself to say goodbye to the characters, and I'll keep going as long as I'm having fun and I have ideas (I'm figuring a couple more years, maybe). Other people get frustrated because they languish in obscurity. I have a small but dedicated following, and that's good enough for me right now.
Aug. 11th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
Well you can count me as one now. It's really interesting. Keep up the good work!
Aug. 11th, 2010 09:24 am (UTC)
Aug. 11th, 2010 10:49 am (UTC)
If you know what furries are, just keep walking and don't make eye contact.

If you don't know what furries are, don't ask questions, just revel in your normalicy.
Aug. 12th, 2010 07:34 am (UTC)
That might be the first time anyone's ever called me normal, but I get your point.
Aug. 11th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC)
There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
I wasn't really aware of furries until I began working on the test strips. Furries from the black and white boom were simply anthro fans and I thought nothing of it. So when I saw what things had changed into, I was REALLY surprised. Still, I thought their feedback would be useful. I combed through the suspects and found seven people who seemed representative of the group. They were the test subjects, and their reactions are described above.
Aug. 12th, 2010 07:36 am (UTC)
Re: There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
Hm ... I wonder if I don't turn into some version of them when I talk about the Oz books, whining endlessly that "Dorothy's blonde, dammit!"
Aug. 12th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
Re: There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
Unlikely. That's just geeking out. If you spent your time debating how the characters would have sex, that would be closer to furry.

The litmus test, according to one guy: if the characters look like they were drawn by someone's dick, they're furry. If not, they're just anthros.
Aug. 13th, 2010 07:32 am (UTC)
Re: There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
Well, there is some debate over the possibility of Dorothy and Ozma having a lesbian relationship; but as they both *appear* to be underage, any argument is very muted. I've certainly never heard any kerfluffle about how, say, The Tin Woodman and/or the Wogglebug would get it on. This is one good thing about being in a fandom that started out as children's books.
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:04 am (UTC)
Re: There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
I try not to be frustrated by the whole slash thing. I really do. And I can understand some of it. But it seems like so many people are determined to write it and will seize on ANYTHING.

I've seen slash for MythBusters, for MST3K (both characters AND actors), even one for NCIS, and the author wondering how no one else sees what he does between Gibbs and deNozzo. Ooooooooooooyyyyyy....

It's part of the reason I sweat the blocking in my comics so much. The thought of, say, someone writing slash of Rhapsody and Melody makes me sick. There's nothing I can do to stop it, but I can at least minimize it as much as I can.

The sexual revolution hasn't made us more enlightened about sex. It's just made us more immature about it.
Aug. 14th, 2010 07:15 am (UTC)
Re: There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
Slash for Mythbusters! I can't unthink that!

I don't have a problem with slash, except for when it makes absolutely no sense from a characterization standpoint -- then it bugs the hell out of me. Spike and Xander Harris? Absolutely not, wouldn't happen -- Xander and any vampire wouldn't happen. If somebody wrote fanfiction based on "Storm Chaser" and slashed Chance and Rich ... well, not only does that make no sense from a character standpoint, but Rich is a barely disguised me! He's only got three scenes, leave the poor guy alone.
Aug. 14th, 2010 11:29 am (UTC)
Re: There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
Same here. There are times when I don't mind slash. One fandom I was active in, someone who slash about two of the women from the show. Now, wouldn't happen. But what he wrote was actually very sweet and very romantic. I read it and I didn't feel the need to fill my bathtub with vodka and lie in it for a few hours.

THAT kind of slash I don't mind and can enjoy. But there's a desperate, adolescent edge to most of it. It's like a lot of standard porn -- there's no reason, no emotion, it's just there to get you off. It makes me feel used, because that's exactly what's going on.
Aug. 15th, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
Re: There Are Some Things Man Is NOT Meant To Know
Wow ... how much does that cost, to fill a bathtub with water? ;-)

Yes, you're right of course: Most slash is all about the characters, and by extension the reader, getting off. It's why I don't read porn anymore -- I want a little more than that.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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