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Character Dossiers 
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Our next Dossier is for Sasha...

1) Sasha doesn't actually appear here, but this strip does establish that she can't spell very well, is more than a bit forward, and that she wants to spend some personal time with Fido.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/01/a-breed-apart/

2) Sasha is helping decorate for Fido's party, and regards Fido as very important.
Inference: Since the party is being put together by the Good Ol Dogs Club, Sasha is probably a member in good standing and was fairly likely to have been at the meeting.
3) Sasha does have some sympathy for Bino, and may have a relationship of some sort with him. This makes her next statement - indicating that she values Bino for his relationship with Fido - even more of a low blow.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/0 ... ne-to-ask/

4) Sasha attempts to reason with Bino. Given that she's the one who just set him off, this seems unlikely to work.
5) Sasha is familiar with Bino's tendency to rant, and is personally concerned enough to try and help.
6) Sasha does not know the difference between imported "Toilet Water" and water from a toilet.
Inference: Housepets dogs do - at least sometimes - drink from the toilet.
Note: This is actually not as bad as is usually believed; sinks actually do tend to be far dirtier and germ-infested than toilets. On the other hand, it’s never been referenced again, so it may be just a standard “dog” joke.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/1 ... e-to-make/

7) Sasha is trying to get Fido to look at her corrected "I want your puppies" sign.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/1 ... raise-you/

8) Sasha is "an item again" with Bino. Evidently she did, indeed, have a standing relationship with him before Fido's party.
9) Sasha is "over being flush for” Fido.
10) Sasha is thinking about the possibility that preying mantises are alien probes, rather than the person she's with.
Inference: Sasha is none too mentally focused.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/11/14/deep-thoughts/

11) Sasha appears in a single rather sad panel: evidently her owner doesn't pay much attention to her "I love you daddy" and asks her to fetch him a beer.
Inference: The finer font size seems to imply that "I love you daddy" is a quiet statement. Her "daddy" may not be particularly receptive to such sentiments - at least when he hasn't found any human affection.
Inference: Sasha may do rather more in the way of household chores, and with less reward, than most of the other pets.
Note: Reader response at the time indicated that the common assumption was that Sasha's owner used her in attempts to pick up girls - partially on the theory that her idea of how to handle relationships (which isn't very good) might be modeled on his. This has recently been more-or-less confirmed, although it was an inference at the time.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

12) Sasha appears on a rather confused greeting card. The confused message might be taken to imply that Sasha also tends to lose track of a train of thought in the middle.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/1 ... otty-line/

13) Sasha is participating in the Good Ol Dogs Club Easter Egg Hunt. Evidently she’s still a member in good standing, as might be expected with her connection to Bino.
14) Sasha may have tried to use left over eggs for "bonus points" before.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/04/1 ... e-meeting/

15) Sasha is out for a walk and waving to Daisy.
Inference: Given that the theme of these scenes seems to be "happy pets with their owners", this may indicate that Sasha is out for a walk with her owner. It might also be an ironic suggestion that Sasha could use some help, giving Fatty a tiny bit of accidental truth in his rant.
Speculation: Daisy's mom may be single, in which case Sasha would be out doing her “job” of trying to get her owner acquainted with women.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/04/2 ... ery-naive/

16) Sasha concludes that Peanuts latest issue of "Spot Superdog" is about her and for her. Evidently she is somewhat inclined to focus on superficial details - and to relate everything to herself.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/0 ... s-of-spot/

17) Sasha remembers Grape as "that cat that likes dog biscuits"/
18) Sasha is chasing Fido again, in part because Bino - sick in bed - is no fun on a date. She actually told him so.
Note: Kicking Bino when he’s already in the hospital seems a bit cruel, even if it is Bino. Personally, I hope he was unconscious.
19) Sasha didn't tell Fido about breaking a date with Bino to be with him.
20) Sasha is rather blatantly trying to seduce Fido again.
Inference: Sasha's “commitment” to Bino is pretty much a thing of convenience.
Speculation: If Sasha has learned this behavior pattern from her "dad", be may not be a very good example.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/2 ... -smooches/

21) Sasha mistakes King for a cat. Evidently she is still going by superficial impressions.
22) Sasha apparently is concerned about King, and feels that having company is always nice.
23) Sasha does quietly accept being rejected.
Inference: Sasha may be quite used to having her attempts to come along being rejected.
24) Sasha also quietly accepts being locked out in freezing weather "cause I didn't get him any babes at the party" - followed up by the excuse (for her owner) that "I think he just forgets when he's mad".
Inference: This pretty much eliminates the doubt from last Christmas: Sasha's "Daddy" doesn't seem to care about her, and instead is simply using her as a lure for picking up women. Given that example, Sasha's own tendency to go back to Bino whenever another attempt to pick up Fido fails becomes more understandable. Somewhat reprehensible - no matter how bad Bino is, treating him that way is rather unkind - but understandable. It may be the same sort of treatment that she’s used to.
25) Sasha is extremely determined to make the best of any situation.
Inference: Sasha doesn't often have any unalloyed pleasures, attention, or affection, and has learned to make the best of whatever she can get.
Inference: Sasha may not pay much attention to what’s going on because - all too often - paying attention has been emotionally painful for her.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/12/2 ... ace-to-go/

According to the cast page Sasha is a ‘flavor of the week’ kind of girl, and her relationship with Bino depends on his current standing with the neighborhood dogs and whether or not she feels like it. She does, at least, make it very obvious that Bino is a second choice.

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Possible Backstory for Sasha:

There isn’t actually much to account for here: it seems reasonably likely that Sasha’s owner got her from a pet store so that he could use the cute puppy as a prop for picking up women. Sasha, like many neglected children, has resorted to attempting to “earn” her “Daddy’s” affection - and to trying to find affection wherever she can. She keeps returning to Bino because he’s desperate enough to accept that sort of treatment and her apparent air-headed optimism is mostly a defense mechanism; if she’s not paying attention, it makes it a lot easier to overlook the emotional abuse and general neglect her “Daddy” subjects her to. Hence she’s become the strips poster-dog for neglected pets, doing more around the house for less reward than any of the other pets.

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Responses:

For Ebly:

Ebly wrote:
The box had holes on it! As for him being smaller - I don't know about you but I find those with dwarfism, for example, are not necessarily harder to hear. It's not quite the same thing, but it's possible that all it means is that they're higher in pitch!

At the same time, he seems to always be relatively close to Fido's ears! Maybe the other pets can't hear Spo? It would better explain why Fox thought Fido was arguing with himself!


Oh, quite possible. I was assuming normal conversational volume because Rick apparently used the "small voice" font before (the first Christmas strip with Sasha) to convey reduced volume.

Now, I have kept mice (and gerbils. I never liked hamsters though: I left those to my sister), and their volume isn't much. Not to mention all the problems with voiceboxes and frequency ranges... On the other hand, the assumption of "Good Ears" and "Usually being close to them" also works, especially with Fox not hearing Spo. Pending further information, I suppose I'll just have to chalk up the other problems to comic conventions or world laws. I kind of hate to do that - it's no fun - but I don't have enough information for another theory right now.

Once I get done with the rest of the characters (it's going faster as I get to the ones with fewer appearances) I'll start updating for strips that went up after the posts and editing in the suggestions. Thank you for some good ones.

For ndigit:

ndigit wrote:
Or it could be Spo simply overheard him saying "Of all the cats in the world and I had to fall in love with the only one who doesn't enjoy causing pain."

I'm pretty sure Sabrina isn't a gossip. In fact she hardly has any lines at all for a recurring side character.


I was basing the notion that "quite a lot of the local ferals know about it" on the list of them that Fido has apparently taken in at Sabrina's request, nursed back to health, and released; it seems pretty likely that a fair percentage of them know that something is up; presumably most cats wouldn't hand them over to a mysteriously-obliging dog to be nursed back to health and set free. Secondarily, of course, there's direct observation by mice, birds, and other creatures. Sabrina gossiping is not required.

ndigit wrote:
We're pretty sure that this isn't a Babylon Gardens taboo as it is a universal. The farm cats talk about this issue lightly but it does make sense if you think about it. (Probably just a poor choice of words but felt like pointing this out, sorry.)


As far as the "interspecies relationship" taboo goes... Our actual sources on it are pretty sparse. What we have consists of:

1) Grapes opinion that drawing a dog with a cats tail is "just sick".
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/07/1 ... od-artist/

2) Bino thinks that "Cat lovers are really weird".
3) Fox and Rex - as usual at this point - echo him. Fox may or may not be being sarcastic, and there's no evidence of whether or not Fox and Rex actually care.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/07/1 ... ne-either/

4) Grape thinks that "Okay, so Joey is strange. That's the kind of reputation that pets that look outside their own species get" - and apparently feels that being strange leads to becoming stranger.
5) On the other hand, Grape also states that she might have overreacted.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/0 ... -for-dogs/

6) Grape states that "In time they'll come to accept it".
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/0 ... a-nowhere/

7) As far as the barn cats go; they stated that Peanut was "cute" and got rather suggestive towards him. If there is a general taboo, they certainly don’t seem too worried about it.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/0 ... the-mouth/

8) This barn cat seems to find the notion that grape was worried about the "cat lover" and "dog lover" notion "cute". She may or may not have been mocking the entire idea of such a taboo, but she certainly doesn’t seem to take it seriously.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/1 ... g-reasons/

9) The alt-text notes that Rufus thought that Peanut was wanting to approach the Collie next door - but at this point he probably knows that Peanut retreated from the barn cats in confusion (they're all friends and share the barn; somehow I suspect that he got the word), and might be assuming that - since Peanut lives with Grape - if he was interested in her, he would have approached her long ago. No real evidence either way.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/1 ... -occasion/

10) In this strip we find that Fido is keeping his relationship with Sabrina secret from the other dogs - although he certainly made it obvious enough to Spo.
11) The humans apparently think that interspecies relationships are cute, but Fido states that revealing that he was involved in such a relationship would compromise the loyalty of the other dogs. It’s hard to tell if that’s general support for the “Taboo” idea or not. Fido isn't the most perceptive person around. Of course, it would certainly compromise what little loyalty he gets from Bino...
12) Of the other pets we have some information on, Peanut and Joey certainly have no problems with it. Bino does - but Fox and Rex simply went along with Bino without actually expressing an opinion. Grape may disapprove in theory - but is willing to ignore it and hangs out with dogs a lot.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/2 ... y-who-who/

13) Of course, here we find that Grape is apparently attracted to a human actor. Evidently that’s embarrassing, but not taboo.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/25/dear-tabby/

14) As far as actual and attempted relationships in the strip go, we have:
Joey and Squeak; Dog and Mouse.
Fido and Sabrina: Dog and Cat.
Peanuts one-sided crush on Grape. Dog and Cat.
Bino and Sasha. Dog of convenience and Dog. I wouldn't call it a very normal relationship myself. In fact, given the way Sasha keeps dumping Bino - and Bino's evident desperation - I don't think I'm going to count it.
Sashas one-sided attempt at Fido.
Peanut and Tarot: After Peanut and Grape didn't work out. Dog and Dog. Still not very normal though.
Miles and Lucretia: Pets only legally, and Feral. Still, at least it's Wolf and Wolf.
Grape and Maxwell: Our first "normal" pet couple.

15) We have glimpsed four additional possible relationships, but we don't have enough information to be sure:

A pair of cats are glimpsed, apparently on a troubled date. We don't actually know if they're a couple though; from what little we see, it looks like the date fell through.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/1 ... kill-cafe/

The Mr Bigglesworths can't tell each other apart. Evidently this was intended to be a date, but it certainly isn't a stable relationship.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/1 ... lications/

Jasper, "Girlfriend Cat", and Jinx - a Tom-and-Jerry reference - appear here. Actual status as a "couple" is doubtful, at least going by the "Tom and Jerry" precedents.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/2 ... e-corners/

Finally, here we have two of the Mr Bigglesworths, who may be cuddling behind the couch. That may or may not mean anything. They might be a couple, close siblings, or simply be playing. There’s not enough information to tell.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/0 ... l-of-them/

So: we have a grand total of five confirmed and reasonably stable relationships - Joey and Squeak, Fido and Sabrina, Peanut and Tarot, Miles and Lucretia, and Grape and Maxwell. That's two interspecies, one strange (Peanut and Tarot) but in-species, one Feral and in-species, and one fairly “normal” and in-species. That's 40% interspecies, or 50% if you consider the wolves as being outsiders to the pet community.

We have only three primary sources on the interspecies relationship taboo; Bino, Grape, and Fido.

For a “minimal taboo” theory... For all we actually know at the moment, Bino has some hint that Fido is in love with a cat - and resents Fido having a stable relationship when he certainly doesn't. Ergo his hatred of "Cat-Lovers". Still, Bino realizes at some level that undercutting Fido would undercut his own power base, ergo he takes it out on other "Cat Lovers". He could well have passed that disapproval on to Grape as a kitten, since he does live next door. Fido, meanwhile, could simply believe that the other dogs would feel that - being in love with a cat - his loyalties might be compromised as far as being the local canine leader goes.

I could stretch the evidence to support a global taboo just as well as I can stretch it the other way to blame it all on Bino - but there really isn't enough information available to make a really good case either way. Personally I would suspect on gene-transmission grounds that interspecies relationships are generally regarded as odd, but that - since they will not provoke human efforts are reproductive control - are probably pretty widespread. Pets get lonely too.

ndigit wrote:
Speculation on my part but it's also possible that Sabrina's owner also plays D&D which is why Spo would know what a dork would be like. It might also explain how Fido and Sabrina met in the first place.


Very possible on the D&D part; I shall add that to the speculations section once I get the main list done and go back to update and edit. I'm not sure we really need a reason for Fido and Sabrina to meet though; they both live in the same community after all, and it's presumably not all that enormous.

ndigit wrote:
I don't think it's an oddity as much as humans don't treat animals all that differently from this world and theirs. Except we treat ours like babies they treat theirs like...well more like children I guess. They get toys, they...CAN eat regular foods, (Though throughout the comic Grape and Peanut seem to be the only ones to do so...), but they still don't have as much freedom.
Edit:Oh and Tiger also eats cookies and pizza. How could I forget him?


As far as humans not treating animals that much differently from real animals, that's more or less the oddity; the police routinely work in tense and dangerous situations. The assistance of intelligent canines offers them a good many extra options - and they're apparently (from Fido's list of his training and responsibilities) not taking full advantage of them. Since failing to take full advantage of their options puts their lives at increased risk, that seems odd. Using creatures with no legal rights to deliver Miranda warnings - and therefore to collect evidence as witnesses if a suspect chooses to waive their right to remain silent or makes statements after the warning is delivered - is also rather odd; testifying on what a suspect says after the warning is a normal part of a court case; if pets have trouble testifying, or need other pets to back them up, this makes policework needlessly awkward.

Hm... As "Food" goes, as you noted, Tiger gets to have pizza and cookies. Rex bakes cookies (and presumably eats at least some of them). Grape and Peanut do have their own table with their own dishes, but eat with the family at least on special occasions (Thanksgiving Strip) and have free access to the soda and ice cream (needed to make rootbeer floats). The various dogs apparently usually bring dog biscuits/cookies to the Good Ol Dogs Club meetings. Bino has access to the pantry and the dog snacks/treats (from the first Christmas gift exchange), and Peanut has access to either a seriously specialized caterer/pinata maker or at least "four different kinds of tripe" (if he filled it himself). The Raccoons reference "looking for cat food", but there's no indication of what kind except for whatever they’re looking for NOT being currently sealed in a can (since they don’t know how to open those). Grape references eating the insides of cows during the farm arc. Grape also eats a mouse during mouse-mouse revolution. I'm not sure chocolate-covered espresso beans really count as "food". I seem to recall a reference to tea at some point, some pet (I think it was Peanut got) chocolate at Halloween, and there's Joey having a commercial cup of something at the bookstore during the Pridelands arc. There's Grape eating dog biscuits and Sasha serving "Toilet Water" during Fido's party. And then, of course, there's King getting fed dry dog kibble. Not much consistency there except for the dog biscuits/cookies.

ndigit wrote:
I don't think he's appalled so much at the burning building as more thinking "These dogs are insane."


I think we're just using different words for the same impression here. After all, dogs are at least implied to have set fire to the place somehow - and he's currently associating with them. I’d find looking at a burning building and knowing that the person I’m relying on at the moment was involved (and didn't see the problem) pretty appalling.

ndigit wrote:
No he's not. Spo is not narrating anything nor does this support telepathy. He's just being a wise-crack.


For "Spo narrating feelings", I got the impression that he was more-or-less saying what Fido would have liked to have said if he wasn't on duty. That is just an impression of course. Since Rick already noted that the telepathy hypothesis was reaching, I’ll gladly go with him simply being a smartass.

ndigit wrote:
Well I wouldn't take a mouse to a dog's club either.


Spo’s not being taken along to the dogs club is only "apparent" actually; I didn't see him on Fido's head, and he's not in the tags; that does not mean that he wasn't present "offscreen". That ones just an observation; Spo is usually with Fido these days.

ndigit wrote:
Also. Max being abducted by the PETA is VERY speculative since there seems to be nothing at all to suggest this.


And yes, Max being abducted by PETA is indeed very speculative; all of Maxwell's history entry was noted as "we basically know nothing about Maxwell’s history - so I’m going with “exciting, fits the (few) known facts, and has lots of interesting future story possibilities”
The possibility of trouble with PETA was based on
(1) Maxwell's owner's immediate reaction to a stranger saying "I'm with PETA" was to commit a criminal offence - Assault and Battery - which could easily result in jail time. This argues for some strong personal reason beyond "I've heard about PETA and they're a bunch of loons". This argues for some notable bit of backstory.
(2) The general rule that - in works of fiction - notable bits of backstory are generally attached to major characters - and the humans, and (for that matter) possible prior pets that they no longer own - are distinctly secondary. Ergo, the cause of such hostility was probably attached to either Bino or Maxwell.
(3) Bino, while a good character and foil, is generally disliked. Ergo, attaching some harrowing bit of backstory to him is fairly pointless in narrative terms. It's already been suggested in the comments on the Sinister Shadow arc that it would have been nice if PETA successfully swiped Bino. It also doesn't add much to the story possibilities; Bino already dislikes King and already has a personal link with Fox.
(4) Ergo, the inference of Maxwell's owner having some personal grudge against PETA winds up being attached to Maxwell - and offers the added bonus of providing reasons why he doesn't answer the door, couldn't get Bino to let him in at night, and for his having a damaged ear. This fulfills the general rule for inferring backstories - try to explain as many things as possible while introducing the minimum possible number of new elements.

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Character Dossiers


Last edited by Thoth on Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:54 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth wrote:
(1) Maxwell's owner's immediate reaction to a stranger saying "I'm with PETA" was to commit a criminal offence - Assault and Battery - which could easily result in jail time. This argues for some strong personal reason beyond "I've heard about PETA and they're a bunch of loons". This argues for some notable bit of backstory.
(2) The general rule that - in works of fiction - notable bits of backstory are generally attached to major characters - and the humans, and (for that matter) possible prior pets that they no longer own - are distinctly secondary. Ergo, the cause of such hostility was probably attached to either Bino or Maxwell.
(3) Bino, while a good character and foil, is generally disliked. Ergo, attaching some harrowing bit of backstory to him is fairly pointless in narrative terms. It's already been suggested in the comments on the Sinister Shadow arc that it would have been nice if PETA successfully swiped Bino. It also doesn't add much to the story possibilities; Bino already dislikes King and already has a personal link with Fox.
(4) Ergo, the inference of Maxwell's owner having some personal grudge against PETA winds up being attached to Maxwell - and offers the added bonus of providing reasons why he doesn't answer the door, couldn't get Bino to let him in at night, and for his having a damaged ear. This fulfills the general rule for inferring backstories - try to explain as many things as possible while introducing the minimum possible number of new elements.

Given Fox implies a previous encounter, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole neighborhood knows of PETA. It would also fit just as well into all of those things and be more likely!

As fun as it may be to be wild, what I believe the point of speculation to be is not to see the extent of what you can get away with under currently known logic, but to try to come up with something decidedly believable and solid.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Ebly wrote:
Given Fox implies a previous encounter, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole neighborhood knows of PETA. It would also fit just as well into all of those things and be more likely!

As fun as it may be to be wild, what I believe the point of speculation to be is not to see the extent of what you can get away with under currently known logic, but to try to come up with something decidedly believable and solid.


I'd expect that the entire neighborhood knows about PETA anyway; a great many people in the real world do, and - in the Housepets universe - they are likely to attract even more notice.

Second hand reports would probably suffice nicely for saying something nasty, slamming the door, and calling the cops. I can't see them sufficing for an immediate attack. While it varies with the jurisdiction, Assault and Battery - both clearly demonstratable here - can suffice for an unpleasant stint in prison.

Secondarily, it does account for some additonal its of information, which is always a plus. Alternative scenarios that will account for the available information are always interesting though. What's yours?

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth wrote:
Ebly wrote:
Given Fox implies a previous encounter, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole neighborhood knows of PETA. It would also fit just as well into all of those things and be more likely!

As fun as it may be to be wild, what I believe the point of speculation to be is not to see the extent of what you can get away with under currently known logic, but to try to come up with something decidedly believable and solid.


I'd expect that the entire neighborhood knows about PETA anyway; a great many people in the real world do, and - in the Housepets universe - they are likely to attract even more notice.

Second hand reports would probably suffice nicely for saying something nasty, slamming the door, and calling the cops. I can't see them sufficing for an immediate attack. While it varies with the jurisdiction, Assault and Battery - both clearly demonstratable here - can suffice for an unpleasant stint in prison.

Secondarily, it does account for some additonal its of information, which is always a plus. Alternative scenarios that will account for the available information are always interesting though. What's yours?

Well really, it takes other people thinking deeply to get me thinking deeply, and I tend to not come up with ideas by myself, but more respond to them and make addenda. Either way this specific post isn't exactly deep thought, since it seems to me that the evidence to support this is all there. I'm assuming you don't need references given you seem to be particularly well-versed in the archives, but if you ask, I'll go delving and bring you some pretty little links.

So back on the subject we were thinking about, Fox is obviously a very likable character - I mean, even punchee Joel, as King, was very quick to trust him despite the history he's had with pets (though naturally his problem could more be with strays, given his pets were seemingly friendly with him before running away). It would not be anywhere near a stretch to say that the neighbors know of him and are friendly with him too! Also, the neighbors are perfectly able to be friends with other neighbors, but as you say they are secondary to the comic.

My thinking is that if Fox has been kidnapped by PETA in the past, not only would it have sent ripples through the other pets given his friendly status with them, but that the influence would have been extended to the owners - the neighbourhood is seemingly very closely knit, after all. Fox could potentially be friends with other owners, which would cause such an impression upon them, but more likely I think is the other pets' reactions impressing upon the other owners, and Fox's owners' reactions too!

As much as assault and battery is a serious crime, someone as well-liked as Fox being kidnapped is going to make a much larger splash than an alley cat, pet or not! And Fox's owner, being a police officer, would willingly turn a blind eye to a PETA member being punched by one of his neighbours, I'm sure. I wouldn't be surprised if he would have punched Joel himself!

I'm more the kind of person to suspend disbelief, say "rule of funny!", and leave it at that, but if I need I can try to explain things from my own point of view. x3

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Quote:
I'm not sure we really need a reason for Fido and Sabrina to meet though; they both live in the same community after all, and it's presumably not all that enormous.


Well it's just that I've noticed that the cats and dogs don't seem to mingle at all unless their living with each other or there is an emergency. Or if said cat just likes dog biscuits.

Quote:
So: we have a grand total of five confirmed and reasonably stable relationships - Joey and Squeak, Fido and Sabrina, Peanut and Tarot, Miles and Lucretia, and Grape and Maxwell. That's two interspecies, one strange (Peanut and Tarot) but in-species, one Feral and in-species, and one fairly “normal” and in-species. That's 40% interspecies, or 50% if you consider the wolves as being outsiders to the pet community.


Wolves being outsiders to a community does not make it inter species. It is interesting thought that Rick likes playing around with this taboo.

Quote:
For a “minimal taboo” theory... For all we actually know at the moment, Bino has some hint that Fido is in love with a cat - and resents Fido having a stable relationship when he certainly doesn't. Ergo his hatred of "Cat-Lovers". Still, Bino realizes at some level that undercutting Fido would undercut his own power base, ergo he takes it out on other "Cat Lovers". He could well have passed that disapproval on to Grape as a kitten, since he does live next door. Fido, meanwhile, could simply believe that the other dogs would feel that - being in love with a cat - his loyalties might be compromised as far as being the local canine leader goes.


Even with his prejudices Bino has shown no sign of knowing Fido's relationship with Sabrina. And besides that most existing prejudices today in our world are either generalized stereotypes or simply groundless in their reasoning. So it's not that strange to think that there are those conservatives like Bino who think that animals should only date within their own species. And we've seen from the other pets too not just Bino who share these thoughts. It's kinda like homosexuality. Not completely the same thing but the general concept does apply. Yes, pets do get lonely, but the prejudice is still there. Minimal taboo may be possible but I don't think it's not sociologically sound.

As far as Maxwell goes, I just figured he was a street cat from the city who was found and impounded. It would explain why he feels it necessary to keep connections with other cats and why he would need to spy on the dogs. He's street smart, he's clever, and has a quick wit. As a character he stands out a lot, as opposed to many of the other pets who I'm kinda sure grew up in the suburbs or the country, not the city.

Then again I'm also speculating much since none of this is evident in the comic itself. But that's what this thread is for I guess?

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
"Maxfield"? :P

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
sounds like a long lost cousin of Maxwell!

A Dachshund with a Monocle: Maxfield, i dear old chap! I think they are onto us!
Maxfield With a Monocle: Indeed!... *takes a puff of his pipe*

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
ndigit wrote:
Wolves being outsiders to a community does not make it inter species. It is interesting thought that Rick likes playing around with this taboo.


No one said it did; if so, that would have made the interspecies relationship percentage 60%. It's 50% if you consider the wolves as being outsiders to the pet community and therefore don't include them in the pet-relationship statistics.

ndigit wrote:
Even with his prejudices Bino has shown no sign of knowing Fido's relationship with Sabrina. And besides that most existing prejudices today in our world are either generalized stereotypes or simply groundless in their reasoning. So it's not that strange to think that there are those conservatives like Bino who think that animals should only date within their own species. And we've seen from the other pets too not just Bino who share these thoughts. It's kinda like homosexuality. Not completely the same thing but the general concept does apply. Yes, pets do get lonely, but the prejudice is still there. Minimal taboo may be possible but I don't think it's not sociologically sound.

As far as Maxwell goes, I just figured he was a street cat from the city who was found and impounded. It would explain why he feels it necessary to keep connections with other cats and why he would need to spy on the dogs. He's street smart, he's clever, and has a quick wit. As a character he stands out a lot, as opposed to many of the other pets who I'm kinda sure grew up in the suburbs or the country, not the city.

Then again I'm also speculating much since none of this is evident in the comic itself. But that's what this thread is for I guess?


    Edit - for some reason the quote button originally assigned this to Ebly. Probably too many nested quotes in the statement I was quoting. This should be fixed now.

Lets see...

As far as Bino knowing anything or suspecting (consciously or not) anything about Sabrina goes, that's simply a possible (and not required) motivation in a hypothesis that is specifically stated to be stretched to support an extreme position. To quote myself:

thoth wrote:
I could stretch the evidence to support a global taboo just as well as I can stretch it the other way to blame it all on Bino


That’s the point there: from what little evidence the strip presents, I could make a case for a global taboo, I could make a case for blaming it all on Bino, or I could make a plausible case for almost anything in between. Regardless of the position I choose, any inference based on a presumption - one way or the other - about said taboo is a great deal more doubtful. It is, however, evident from the strip that individual attitudes vary a lot.

What we’ve seen from the other pets is already linked above. It really isn’t very much - and, while it suffices to make statements about individual attitudes, I’d really hesitate to project anything to a global level from so few datapoints.

As for it being sociologically sound, in the comic we have a modern cow (selectively bred for productivity for the benefit of their owners), racing horses, several apparent dog breeds, and direct confirmation of at least three different dog breeds: Pomeranians, Corgis, and Australian Shepard. While the dog breeds could have originated as subraces, given that the apparent cow breed - at least - is highly adapted for human convenience, and the statements that Rick has made in the forums about domestication, evidently humans have indeed engaged in the selective breeding of various animals.

Primitive methods of enforcing selective breeding are not something that any sane individual would want applied to themselves. To avoid such enforcement and preserve a chance at having offspring in the future the two most likely courses are (1) avoiding close personal relationships, and (2) forming interspecies relationships.

Given that sociology is based on the tendencies of those creatures that successfully passed on their genes, it’s generally adapted to favor successful reproductive strategies. When it’s not, it’s maladaptive and generally doesn’t last - although many apparently maladaptive strategies turn out to be sound on closer inspection.

Avoiding close personal relationships is unlikely to work. Given that the pets are sapient, learned behaviors are likely to dominate later in life - so a habit of avoiding close personal relationships is likely to be counterproductive as far as producing offspring goes.

Given that, I’d expect exactly the behavior pattern observed in Peanut as an “average canine”: an adolescent crush on a female of another species, turning rapidly to an attraction to another canine as an opportunity arises.

Cats, as a species, have generally been subject to far less human intervention in their development than dogs; ergo, they would show such a tendency far less - which seems to fit Grape’s displayed behavior and the preponderance of possible cat couples noted in the earlier section on this topic.

I would also expect older pets to be somewhat scornful of the tendency; failure to grow out of that stage when an opportunity arises is - again - maladaptive.

Now, Rick could (1) have considered that sort of analysis, (2) simply be a good enough storyteller to have a good intuitive notion of “what fits”, or (3) simply be telling stories and not analyzing things so extensively, in which case we’re simply pulling non-existent correspondences from random data. (My personal impression is that Rick is good enough at this to support (2) or better, but that’s simply my impression). Regardless, I’d hope he finds the speculations interesting, or even suggestive of future possibilities for the comic; this sort of analysis is one of the more detailed forms of feedback that an author can get.

Finally, as far as Maxwell goes... the backstories are, of course, speculative; they’re the second half of this particular puzzle-game. First collect all the pieces you can, then try to fit them all together into a coherent picture with none of the pieces left out. As more pieces of information become available, you can refine your picture and - sometimes - you’ll even find that you got a missing piece right, which is always fun.

Ebly wrote:
So back on the subject we were thinking about, Fox is obviously a very likable character - I mean, even punchee Joel, as King, was very quick to trust him despite the history he's had with pets (though naturally his problem could more be with strays, given his pets were seemingly friendly with him before running away). It would not be anywhere near a stretch to say that the neighbors know of him and are friendly with him too! Also, the neighbors are perfectly able to be friends with other neighbors, but as you say they are secondary to the comic.

My thinking is that if Fox has been kidnapped by PETA in the past, not only would it have sent ripples through the other pets given his friendly status with them, but that the influence would have been extended to the owners - the neighbourhood is seemingly very closely knit, after all. Fox could potentially be friends with other owners, which would cause such an impression upon them, but more likely I think is the other pets' reactions impressing upon the other owners, and Fox's owners' reactions too!

As much as assault and battery is a serious crime, someone as well-liked as Fox being kidnapped is going to make a much larger splash than an alley cat, pet or not! And Fox's owner, being a police officer, would willingly turn a blind eye to a PETA member being punched by one of his neighbours, I'm sure. I wouldn't be surprised if he would have punched Joel himself!

I'm more the kind of person to suspend disbelief, say "rule of funny!", and leave it at that, but if I need I can try to explain things from my own point of view. x3


I think we’re just going to wind up differing on this one; liking the neighbor’s dog is one thing. Liking the neighbors dog well enough to take criminal actions against someone who is apparently associated with a group a member of whom committed an offense against that dog (that you might or might not have heard about) seems like its going a bit overboard. I’d still suspect a much more personal offence.

For a comparison, consider punching one of the religious door-to-door types; after all, you could easily claim that they were an imminent danger to your immortal soul - far worse than merely threatening your death - and both “self-defense” and “believing you were in danger” are normally excellent defenses. Sadly, neither hypothetical dangers nor past experiences with other people who belonged to a particular group are excuses for attacking people.

Secondarily, at that point where Joel says “I’m with peta”, could Jake really be sure that Joel wasn’t with the “Personnel Evaluation and Transport Agency”, or “Peta’s Landscaping”, or any of a dozen other groups? Second-hand offenses do not normally lead to people defaulting to violence.

Finally, if I was Bill, I don’t think I’d approve of the presumption that I would be willing to “turn a blind eye” to a reported offence. That would be a violation of his oath of office, have him engaging in conspiracy to conceal a crime, and would mean being derelict in his duty. Personally punching Joel or Fatty when he caught them petnaping his dog would be much more understandable, and - legally - much more excusable. Punching someone who’s just committed a notable offense is much easier to defend legally and ethically than punching someone who’s simply introduced themselves politely.

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Character Dossiers


Last edited by Thoth on Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:36 am, edited 2 times in total.



Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:13 pm
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth wrote:
Ebly wrote:
Even with his prejudices Bino has shown no sign of knowing Fido's relationship with Sabrina. And besides that most existing prejudices today in our world are either generalized stereotypes or simply groundless in their reasoning. So it's not that strange to think that there are those conservatives like Bino who think that animals should only date within their own species. And we've seen from the other pets too not just Bino who share these thoughts. It's kinda like homosexuality. Not completely the same thing but the general concept does apply. Yes, pets do get lonely, but the prejudice is still there. Minimal taboo may be possible but I don't think it's not sociologically sound.

As far as Maxwell goes, I just figured he was a street cat from the city who was found and impounded. It would explain why he feels it necessary to keep connections with other cats and why he would need to spy on the dogs. He's street smart, he's clever, and has a quick wit. As a character he stands out a lot, as opposed to many of the other pets who I'm kinda sure grew up in the suburbs or the country, not the city.

Then again I'm also speculating much since none of this is evident in the comic itself. But that's what this thread is for I guess?

Ebly did not write that! *giggle*

Edit: and you called him Maxfield again!
Anyway, I'm fine agreeing to disagree! There's no harm in having multiple theories. :D

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Hm. Looks like the "Quote" button isn't entirely reliable when there are nested quotes or too many of them. I'll have to trace it back and fix it when I have a little more time later tonight.

"Maxfield" should be easy to fix though... Ah, there it is; must have gotten distracted while typing that list...

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
thoth wrote:
No one said it did; if so, that would have made the interspecies relationship percentage 60%. It's 50% if you consider the wolves as being outsiders to the pet community and therefore don't include them in the pet-relationship statistics.


Sorry, I guess I just read that wrong. :oops:

thoth wrote:
As for it being sociologically sound, in the comic we have a modern cow (selectively bred for productivity for the benefit of their owners), racing horses, several apparent dog breeds, and direct confirmation of at least three different dog breeds: Pomeranians, Corgis, and Australian Shepard. While the dog breeds could have originated as subraces, given that the apparent cow breed - at least - is highly adapted for human convenience, and the statements that Rick has made in the forums about domestication, evidently humans have indeed engaged in the selective breeding of various animals.

Primitive methods of enforcing selective breeding are not something that any sane individual would want applied to themselves. To avoid such enforcement and preserve a chance at having offspring in the future the two most likely courses are (1) avoiding close personal relationships, and (2) forming interspecies relationships.


Um. Ok. I don't know where enforced selective breeding came from but okay. Think of it this way. Before way back when, it was unthinkable for a white person to have a personal relationship with an African. Why? They were too different from each other. Regardless of what other sub species of canine that the dogs have been forced to breed with it's just unthinkable for dogs to have close relationships with cats because it's not natural. And as far as maladaptive reproductive processes go, wouldn't breeding dog and dog be more successful than cross-breeding dog and cat? And actually, I think it might be possible it was because of forced breeding that the dogs are so sensitive about cross breeding than the cats. The drive from humans for pure-bred dogs may have instilled a mind-set that makes looking outside your own species utterly unthinkable.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
ndigit wrote:
Um. Ok. I don't know where enforced selective breeding came from but okay. Think of it this way. Before way back when, it was unthinkable for a white person to have a personal relationship with an African. Why? They were too different from each other. Regardless of what other sub species of canine that the dogs have been forced to breed with it's just unthinkable for dogs to have close relationships with cats because it's not natural. And as far as maladaptive reproductive processes go, wouldn't breeding dog and dog be more successful than cross-breeding dog and cat? And actually, I think it might be possible it was because of forced breeding that the dogs are so sensitive about cross breeding than the cats. The drive from humans for pure-bred dogs may have instilled a mind-set that makes looking outside your own species utterly unthinkable.


I suspect that you might be taking things a bit back-to-front.

If you want to examine what's "natural", I'll have to refer you to studies on animal behavior. Given the PG rating of this board, suffice it to say that I suspect that you'll find that a great many more behavior patterns than you think are found in animals.

Since a sociological objection was brought up - albeit without details - an examination of the basis of sociology was in order. The fundamental basis of sociology is - necessarily - adaption to the environment (failure to do so leads to there being no individuals to have a society). The most important element of adaption to the environment is successful reproduction. A quick look at the animals in the strip, and their various breeds, showed that they had almost certainly been selectively bred by humans - meaning that their reproductive success had been controlled by human-applied pressures. Therefore their genetic, behavioral, and sociological, adaptions will be to that environment.

As far as "crossbreeding" goes, the various "breeds" have been developed through the enforced selection of particular genetic combinations. This means that only selected individuals get to reproduce. The two basic methods of preventing the rest from reproducing are sterilization (until recently only rather crude methods were available) and death. As I noted, few sane individuals wish to be subjected to either procedure.

In the housepets universe, in a sapient species subjected to selective breeding, a cross-species or same-sexed relationship is indeed adaptive; it preserves and develops the social and physical behaviors of associated with successful reproduction without provoking intervention to prevent offspring - thus offering the individuals in question the chance to pass on their genes later, rather than losing the opportunity permanently. A secondary genetic trend towards subverting the system through unsuitable individuals reproducing early is possible, but - at least in the real world - is normally suppressed through the sterilization or elimination of the offspring. Since that’s already involved in the project, it seems likely that the same would apply in the housepets universe. While modest populations of feral pets are to be expected, they're unlikely to have any major impact; humans pretty throughly dominate the earth in reality, and the housepets universe seems to be a mostly-recognizable version of the real world.

As for it "being unthinkable for a white person to have a personal relationship with an African" - to the very limited extent that it was true (genetic tracing reveals that there may have been few legal marriages, but personal relationships were quite common in the historical United States, which seems likely to be the region to which you are referring), it was only one pattern amongst many, and applied to limited areas. There are and have been many other cultural patterns.

Now, if human pressure for purebred dogs (a relatively recent innovation) was responsible for the "taboo", it ought to apply to potential breeding couples - such as the potential pairings of Peanut and Tarot (unclassified and Pomeranian), Peanut and the "neighboring collie" (from the farm arc), Bino and Sasha and Fido and Sasha (neither Fido nor Bino appears to be the same breed as Sasha). It would also cause problems with the "all the lady dogs want to be with Fido" statements. On the other hand, there's no reason to expect a taboo with such an origin to apply to couples that cannot reproduce, since such pairings will not produce mixed-breed pups. That’s pretty much the opposite of the effect you were apparently looking for.

In the end, of course, all such debates come down to what Rick decides to put in the comic or say in the forms; that's why I included the link to the strips which provide information on the issue. Unfortunately, what we have now comes down to Bino's opinion, Grape's statement that she and other animals find cross-species relationships weird, Fido's statement that humans find them cute but that his having a relationship with a cat might undermine the loyalty of the other dogs, and the Barn Cats having no objection to stating that Peanut was "cute", to behaving rather suggestively around him, and finding Grapes worries on the topic "cute". Four sources, four different statements, and none of them necessarily generalizable.

As I've already pointed out, the available data could be explained by blaming the entire notion on Bino, by taking it as a local exaggeration of a slight - if widespread - sense of unease, by presuming that attitudes vary widely (the best supported, since Joey, Fido, Peanut, and apparently Joey's friends, don't find such relationships too weird, which doubles the number of available datapoints), or by assuming that it represents a widespread or global taboo. As it stands, they're all supportable, although "attitudes vary widely" is best supported, as well as being arguably the most realistic. Extrapolating to a global scenario is highly speculative at best.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Wow. Um. Ok.

...how long do you spend on your research your stuff Thoth?
I obviously don't spend much time at all.

Two things I'd like to clear up though.
Sociology, by definition, is the study of the origin, development, organization, and function of a human society. The science of social relations and institutions. (But since the animals are sapient this can apply to a certain degree.) So most of my speculation comes from how the animals related and socialized with each other. (Admittedly I would need to start looking at other factors as well...) But in sociology, successful reproduction isn't as important as you make it sound.

Also I said that relationships were unthinkable between whites and africans at one point. Poor choice of words on my part, sorry. What I meant to say was that it did happen, it would be unusual to think it never did, but it was still looked down upon. Like many other types of discrimination, it happens it's just that there are those who choose not to accept it. Very loudly. And I am talking outside (and yes including) the states who have similar prejudices. Even Bino had to get it somewhere.
But yeah "attitudes vary widely" still sounds better don't it?

Ah, okay then I guess I'm done babbling.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Next up, we have a couple of the characters who haven’t had much exposure... Sabrina and Daisy.

Sabrina:

1) Sabrina appears. She's evidently in a relationship with Fido. Grape does not approve, but Peanut doesn't seem to mind.
Note: Fido may have his own basement apartment.
2) Sabrina can produce an instant happy brain shutdown in Fido.
Inference: It’s a good relationship.
3) Sabrina wears an ankh tag. This may be related to her desire (from the cast page) to be a “Friend of All Living Things”, to it’s association with life, to it’s association with magic, or simply due to owner/artist whimsy.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/2 ... everybody/

4) Sabrina is still in an apparently-steady relationship with Fido.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

5) Sabrina hands off Spo to Fido (who promptly admits aloud that he's in love with her).
Inference: Judging from the “another” part (and Fox’s later list) Sabrina can reliably catch small feral animals without seriously injuring them. This is actually a fairly good trick.
Inference: Quite a lot of ferals - the ones Sabrina has handed off to Fido - probably at least suspect that Sabrina is in a relationship with Fido.
6) Sabrina is apparently good at hiding boxes around her person. This is indeed a trivial observation, but with so few appearances, I’ll have to take what I can get.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/16/ohh-diss/

7) Fido is keeping his relationship with Sabrina secret from the other dogs - although he certainly made it obvious enough to Spo.
Note: The humans apparently think that interspecies relationships are “cute”, but Fido states that revealing one would compromise the loyalty of the other dogs.
Note: This is actually hard to tell; Peanut has no problems with his relationship and Joey doesn’t seem likely to. Bino almost certainly would - but Fox and Rex simply seemed to be going along with Bino when the topic came up with Peanut; they expressed agreement that Peanut was a cat-lover, but gave no indication of approval or disapproval. Grape may disapprove in theory - but is willing to ignore it and hangs out with dogs a lot. I’ll take this as “at least enough of the other dogs to be a problem”.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/2 ... y-who-who/

8) Sabrina appears with Tarot. They are sitting on what appears to be a red blanket, bedspread, or couch, with a couple of pillows. They also have gold tags in the same style and with the same ancient-Egyptian motif.
Inference: Tarot and Sabrina may well have the same owner and probably spend a good deal of time together. They may share the same interests.
9) Sabrina is peering at a rather large book on a bookstand.
Speculation: There are apparently several types of "magic" abroad in the Housepets universe - Tarot's apparently-intuitive psychic/spiritualist talents (possibly in the same general class as the Dolphin’s routine telepathy), Pete's more active and direct manipulations, and whatever sort of impersonal or "mechanical" magic (or exotic technology) was involved in "Pete's Temple" (if it was his magic, why would he need someone else to push a button?).
Note: The "big book" and "black cat" themes are classic magical “bits”, and the close proximity of Tarot - and Sabrina ignoring Tarot's telepathic-communication routine - may indicate that Sabrina was looking something relevant up and is quite familiar with Tarot’s talents.
Off-the-wall Speculation: Sabrina can be distracting enough to keep people from noticing inconvenient details, such as the fact that she’s carrying a sizeable box - or her relationship with Fido.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/23/so-cool/

10) From the cast page: Sabrina: The quiet, unassuming type. She just tries not to make much noise among the other pets. Also, despite belonging to the most vicious killer subsection of pets, she desires most of all to be Friend of All Living Things and refuses to do physical harm to anyone. She’s secretly Fido’s girlfriend.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don’t actually have much of a possible backstory for Sabrina:

Sabrina has apparently been in Babylon Gardens for some time, met and fell in love with Fido, and that relationship has continued for some time. She’s made a habit of getting Fido to relocate the small feral animals that her owner expects her to kill and/or eat, ergo a lot of the ferals know that she’s in a relationship with Fido. She has the same owner as Tarot. The speculation has been mentioned that her owner may play D&D, thus accounting for her introduction to Fido - but if they both live in the same neighborhood, they’re likely to run into each other anyway.

Overall, there really isn’t much data that needs accounting for as yet; when more details appear in the strip I’ll see what I can do.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Next up, it’s Daisy... Sadly, Daisy has - as far as I can determine - only appeared in a total of five panels, has only had one line (“Hi I’m Daisy!”), and hasn't participated in the storyline very much.

1) Daisy appears in the group shot around Fido, and then features in the next panel. Sole line: "Hi I'm Daisy!".
Inference: Since this was a party spontaneously thrown together by the Good Ol Dogs Club, either Daisy was at the meeting or was attracted by the commotion.
Speculation: Fido might have been acquainted with Daisy earlier, probably because, judging by the information on the cast page, if she’s been around Babylon Gardens long he’ll probably have had to look after her at some point.
2) Daisy has a flower tag.
3) Daisy appears to be very happy.
4) Unlike Sasha, there’s no indication that Daisy is making any special play for Fido - although in her case that might be hard to tell.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/1 ... raise-you/

5) Daisy gives a large bag of something to the Feral Raccoons, who seem very pleased; she may be friends with them or it may simply be a Christmas thing. The raccoons may actually know her however, or they may just be surprised to be being given a gift at all.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

6) Daisy appears walking with “Daisy’s Mom”.
7) Daisy has no lines here, but appears happy.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/04/2 ... ery-naive/

8) Daisy wins the ferrets grand prize - stated to be a big bag full of money. It is vaguely implied that this may be for sincerity because Daisy is too airheaded to be insincere.
Note: It's hard to avoid being sincere when your only line is "Hi I'm Daisy".
Inference: Given that quite a lot of other lines - such as “Thank You” here, or “I brought you a present!” or “Merry Christmas!” with the Raccoons - might be more appropriate than “Hi I’m Daisy!”, I would guess that the gag is that Daisy doesn’t say much of anything else.
Inference: Daisy probably did something fairly silly with her money if her owners didn’t do something with it for her.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/0 ... llar-sign/

9) From the cast page, “Amazingly enough, she’s even less intelligent than Sasha.”
Overall Inference: Daisy appears to be happy, reasonably well-liked, friendly, kindly, and thick as a brick.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Daisy’s Possible Backstory:

Daisy was a cheerful, friendly, and enthusiastic puppy. She was adopted quickly, and has turned out to be cheerful, friendly, enthusiastic, and totally incapable of functioning on her own. Ergo, her “parents” moved into Babylon Gardens since they’d heard it was pet-friendly, fairly pet-safe, and had a lot of other pets around - who would be there to help keep an eye on Daisy. They were pleased to find that Fido, and a number of the other dogs, were willing to do so.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Responses:

For ndigit:

Oh, I’m just assuming that species which have failed to reproduce, and are thus extinct, don’t have much of a society to study - but I do tend to break everything down to the most general of possible requirements.

Research time is negligible though; I use this sort of information in other projects anyway, so it's generally ready to hand.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Next up we have Miles - and, incidentally, the rest of the Pack. There really isn’t enough on most of them yet to justify individual entries.

1) Miles makes his first appearance. He's apparently used to mugs or cups, as well as furniture.
Inference: Miles has probably had at least a few weeks worth of experience with civilization.
Note: Peanut apparently has trouble with things that are out of context. He's seen wolves at the zoo, but presumes that one in the living room must be something else.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/2 ... er-danger/

1) Miles has moved into the neighborhood; this is evidently quite abnormal.
Inference: Miles is either being backed by someone, or has somehow acquired an independent source of income (and, presumably, a court-appointed Steward like the Ferrets).
2) Wolves are apparently substantially taller and heavier than most dogs.
Note: Wolves are apparently normally ferals.
3) Miles is acquainted with "civilized" mannerisms, such as shaking hands instead of sniffing.
Inference: Miles has spent at least some time observing, if not necessarily interacting with, humans.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/3 ... n-my-room/

4) Miles has been introducing himself and his pack to the neighbors. Evidently he is concerned about fitting in.
5) Miles and his pack are renting a house in the neighborhood.
Note: The Ferrets have apparently put together a special social program designed to promote the notion that animals can function like humans in society.
6) Mile's wife, Lucretia, thinks that being feral "sucks".
Inference: Presuming that Housepets wolf-packs are similar to real-world wolf-packs, since Miles is apparently mated, he is either the dominant (alpha) male OR the pack is doing extremely well and he's a beta male. Similarly, Lucretia would be either the alpha or beta female, as appropriate.
7) Miles had access to books in the wilds: this also implies access to various other parts of human civilization and probably implies someone teaching him or helping him learn to read, and a reasonably weatherproof storage location for said books.
8) Mile wears glasses to read. He's evidently farsighted.
Inference: Miles could have picked up a pair of cheap reading glasses at any large store, or he could have simply found them somewhere - but he probably wouldn’t have known to do so unless he either did a great deal of reading before obtaining them (and thus didn't need them much) or someone told or helped him. Ergo, he most likely had a friendly human contact early on. That would also help explain his access to books, his naively expecting other humans to behave similarly, and his evident disappointment and disillusionment when they did not.
Inference: Miles and the pack have been living on the edges of human civilization, and have probably gone well out of their way to avoid any conflict with it.
9) Miles is aware of how some others romanticize feral life. This may indicate actual experience with others with similar views or simply having read books which mentioned the viewpoint.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/0 ... t-speaker/

10) Miles taught himself to read, presumably from some books he picked up. This is a fairly remarkable feat.
Inference: Managing - as a wild animal - to teach yourself to read, to obtain books (and reading glasses), to become familiar with an alien culture, to either teach your prospective mate to read or to inspire her with enough interest in a facet of that culture to lead her to take a name from it, all before reaching adult status (and thus, per a later strip, being ready to choose an adult name) while simultaneously learning to hunt and establishing pack-dominance, is a feat worthy of superman. Perhaps that's what that physique of his is all about.
11) Miles acquired books over time. He may have had a friendly "civilized" contact, scavenged for them, or even have bought them. After all, if a friendly feral has found some money, I suspect that most retailers would be happy to take it.
12) Miles apparently taught the rest of the pack about human culture since "we became fond of human culture".
13) Miles "sought his fortune in the big city".
Inference: Miles may have been familiar with "Dick Whittington and his Cat" or a similar tale.
14) Miles was quite naive about actual human behavior.
Inference: Miles probably had an extremely eclectic collection of books, and relatively little direct experience with humans. He evidently hasn't - for example - read much about things like the second world war or he'd probably be a great deal more cautious.
Note: Even friendly wolves often cause humans to call for animal control and get hysterical.
15) Miles gets thoughtful when discouraged or disillusioned.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/0 ... n-the-car/

16) Miles has been roped into the Ferret's social engineering project.
Note: The Ferrets are aware that they - at least - are powerfully driven by instinct and appetite.
17) Miles is both surprisingly empathic, familiar with intoxication, and - at the time - was familiar with orange soda.
Inference: Miles may be familiar with campers, hunters, hikers, or picnickers. Given the close proximity of the woods to Babylon Gardens - and what is evidently some really nice scenery there - I'd bet on campers, hikers, and picnickers. The woods may be too near to developed areas to allow much hunting.
Note: I'd expect "hunting" to be a bit less popular in the Housepets universe than in reality anyway, given that every kid will probably be acquainted with at least some of the local birds and rodents while growing up, that the animals can plan and hide intelligently (for example, going into neighborhoods where the houses are too close to allow the firing of weapons during hunting season), and that hunters will be able to understand the animals pleading and mourning. Farm animal species may have struck a social bargain of sorts; rather than a dangerous and unpleasant life that ends in being killed and eaten after much terror, they get a comfortable, healthy, and well-cared-for life. While that comfortable life still ends in being killed and eaten, it's arguably an improvement over the feral lifestyle for many animals.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/0 ... st-friend/

18) Miles, and apparently his pack (since they apparently have been taken in by the ferrets) have apparently passed the General Obedience Exam and are now legally pets.
Inference: Feral animals moving in with humans is actually pretty common.
Note: The Ferrets want to make sure that everything related to the pack is done "nice and legal", the better to exploit all the available legal loopholes.
Inference: The wolves are technically pets, property of the Milton estate (in trust for the ferrets), and will be obeying all the applicable laws.
19) Miles, and possibly additional members of the pack, were given "humanish" jobs.
20) Miles is already familiar with Television during what is apparently his first open trip into human civilization. Maybe he's been looking in windows?
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/0 ... o-they-do/

21) Miles and Lucretia have little direct experience with human culture and etiquette, but are apparently familiar with many of the physical details of human civilization - doors, clothing, party streamers, etc.
Inference: Miles and the pack probably spent some time with the ferrets - encounting the physical elements of civilzation outside of human authority - before being ready to move into their own (rented) house.
22) Miles has been methodically visiting the neighbors to invite them to his housewarming party.
23) Miles is not immune to the puppy-eyes routine.
24) Lucretia has a speciality apron in her size.
Inference: The "sniff" motif is probably intended for canines. Since it seems unlikely that enough large ferals join human civlization to fuel the commercial production of such items, either there are larger dog breeds around or it was custom-made for Lucretia (arguing for the ferrets throwing money around in pursuit of their latest project as well as in pursuit of shiny things and treats).
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/1 ... e-forever/

25) Miles recognizes a police uniform, even if he's not entirely sure - and is sensibly cautious about it.
26) Miles evidently implicity recognizes human dominance, and is not about to challenge it.
Note: Wolves - and especially North American wolves - are generally extremely timid around humans. In North America most of the (very few) recorded wolf attacks involve either rabies or children being attacked by wolves being kept as pets. In attacks on adults wolves often come off distinctly second best; for an example, consider Ben Cochrum, who killed eleven, and probably injured an unknown number, when attacked by wolves - shooting seven dead and clubbing four to death with his rifle stock before being overwhelmed. Healthy north american wolves normally only attack humans when starving. European and Asian wolves aren't as timid, but - for example - there are currently plenty of wolves who have regular routes through Paris at night, where they scavenge trash, before retreating to the nature preserves to hide during the day.
Note: Wolves living in human houses is apparently seriously odd. The police, however, have enough sense of realpolitik not to gratatiously argue with the extremely wealthy ferrets.
27) Miles either got his license card while Bill (the policeman) was on his way over, was allowed to go back into the house to get his pet license while confronting Bill (which seems unlikely), or somehow was carrying it with him.
Inference: Since Bill seems to recognize the card readily, it's probably an official standard, and laminated.
Speculation: Presuming the wolves do want to carry their licenses - which would be sensible - a simple bit of string, "dog tag" style chain, or a small velcro pouch would suffice to keep such licenses handy without them showing while nestled in all the fur.
Note: I, personally, get the distinct impression that Miles rather likes humans in general. This is, however, just an impression.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/1 ... y-officer/

Note: There's nothing much here but a joke about pants.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/1 ... han-human/

28) Miles has at least two brothers, and least one of whom is named Daryl.
29) Either the rest of the pack is not as familar with human customs as Miles is, or Daryl is a practical joker.
30) Daryl is weaing a cap with ear holes. Again, probably custom clothing for canines.
Inference: The wolves have no actual objection to clothing and such. They just don't need it at home.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/1 ... mily-tree/

31) Miles has at least three children. He may or may not have more - either so far unseen, adult and moved out, or deceased.
Inference: Miles has been pack leader for at least a year, and probably for two or more.
Inference: Since Peanut feels that the three cubs seen so far constitute a “lot”, while they - judging from the variation in size - might represent more than one years worth of offspring - pets and wolves in the Housepets universe probably do not tend to have large litters. I find this preferable to the next most likely explanation - “many of the cubs are already dead” - in any case.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/21/puppy-power/

32) Miles apparently took Peanuts advice to "hide all his relatives" except Lucretia.
33) The housewarming party apparently went pretty well.
34) Miles has apparently settled on a shirt to try and fit in with the humans and put Bill at ease.
35) Wolves apparently move in with humans fairly often, although this is at least reputed to lead to violence, drugs, gambling, and a lack of pants.
36) Miles and Lucretia forgot to actually cook the steaks.
Inference: The wolves - and likely the other ferals - know a lot less about humans and human society than they think they do, and Miles evidently did not learn that lesson from his first encounter with human speciesism in the city. I'd suspect he's an optimist.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/2 ... eing-bill/

37) The housewarming party visitors apparently did not meet the Wolf Cubs.
38) The Wolf Cubs have learned how to play chess. In contrast to Peanut and Grapes toy collection, however, the few other apparent toys in view are for physical games - a bat and a ball. I'm unsure as to what the green thing is, but the room is otherwise rather barren except for a wooden chest.
Inference: The wolves aren't nearly as into "things" as humans or pets. It also seem likely that Miles and Lucretia wish to encourage demanding physical and intellectual activities rather than time-wasting games.
Note: Peanut intends to introduce the cubs to video games, presumably the next time he comes over.
Inference: the wolves do have a television, but don't have a video game setup.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/26/how-terrible/

39) Fido apparently didn't call on the wolves to help search for Zach.
Inference: This is fairly thin, since we simply might not have seen them - but it's also possible that Fido is reluctant to ask wolves to go out searching for a rabbit that he wants to get back safely. That draws some minor support from the fact that one of Fido’s noted activities in Bino’s speech was “fighting ferals”.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/1 ... oth-start/

40) The wolves don't seem to be at the Good Ol Dogs Club Christmas party. This doesn't actually tell us much, although I suspect that Peanut would have invited at least the cubs - but it may simply be because the wolves are trying to fit in with the humans, rather than with the pets. It might also be that the cubs are reluctant to leave their “den”.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/12/2 ... hed-socks/

41) The cubs are familar with, and enjoy, the noise-making tradition around new years, but are unclear as to what it's really about.
Inference: Given the lack of depth, this smacks of superficial information acquired from the television.
Inference: Given that Grape is attracted by the noise, despite fireworks elsewhere, the wolves probably live very close to the Sandwiches - at least presuming that the cubs are in their own yard, which seems likely.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2010/01/01/gregory-who/

    The wolves are not wearing collars. This is presumably fine as long as they’re in their own yard - but in the Housepets universe it seems that the collars serve as (1) a place to carry things, (2) support for identification tags, (3) apparently some sort of legal requirement (thus Grape’s worry about being picked up by animal control and sent to the pound when Earl removed her collar at the convenience store), and 4) a quick and easy visual indicator that “this animal belongs to someone and has a place in society”. All of those would seem likely to apply – especially because the Ferrets wanted them to be careful to obey all the rules, the better to take advantage of the loopholes.
    If I were Miles, having observed the human reaction to random “Ferals” during his first visit to the city, I’d want to make sure that the pups were clearly identifiable at a glance as “part of civilization” and not “dangerous stray ferals who have wandered out of the woods”. They might not like collars – but Daryl was already wearing a hat, so there’s evidently no fundamental objection to using something. Carry-packs, shoulder bags, safety vests, coats (as per Fox) and hats all come to mind. They shouldn’t be in danger of impoundment as long as they can produce their pet licences (wherever they wind up keeping them), but there are more direct dangers. Until quite recently in many areas in the US wolves were classified as an endangered species and were protected by some rather tough federal laws - and that didn’t keep people from shooting, trapping, and poisoning them. I doubt that we’ll actually see anything nearly so grim in Housepets – but there was the fate of Karl-Lenin Faust to show the readers that it’s possible. If those were my cubs I’d certainly consider it, just like warning them about crossing the street without looking.

42) The wolves tradationally do not name their children, leaving them to pick their own names when they come of age.
Inference: Miles learned to read, and became familiar with both some Latin words and Ancient Rome, before reaching maturity and choosing his own name. Alternatively, the wolves could be passing down information about Ancient Rome through their own culture, or that information could have been provided in some other fashion (perhaps via Pete’s dreamsending) - but there’s nothing to support either hypothesis.
43) The cubs are definitely immature.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2010/01/0 ... -nor-face/

    This bit is repeated from my commentary on the comic: ergo, it’s been marked here for easy skipping:
    There are a few areas where it is or was traditional not to give children a name until they’re around two, mostly because – at least historically – the infant mortality rate was so high. If childhood mortality rate for wolf cubs in the Housepets universe bears any resemblance to the real-world rate, the same might apply here.

    Fortunately for the cubs, Miles and Lucretia have already done one of the few things that will vastly increase their chance of survival – moving into human civilization. Moving into a zoo would offer similar benefits, which might help explain why the zookeepers would let Grape and Peanut persuade them to let the animals out for a scrabble tournament; the animals are all smart enough to know when they’re well off – and so can be relied on to go back “home” to their enclosures after the party is over.

    Of course, virtually every human culture assigns at least a childhood use-name pretty much as soon as a child learns to talk and walk. That’s simple practicality; humans communicate so much information vocally that not being able to immediately indicate who you are addressing, calling, or (especially) warning of some danger, is a severe difficulty. Could you see trying to manage an elementary school without names of some sort?

    Quite a few tribal cultures let people choose a name, or be given a new one, when they become officially adults. This becomes increasingly impractical as the society increases in size and as record-keeping becomes more important. It’s rather awkward to rely on the reputation you’ve built up, advertise your services, or refer people to your past performance when they have no way of being even reasonably sure that you’re actually referring to your own record.

    In the cubs case, I’d bet that they have some sort of use-names (quite possibly the ones they just gave), no matter how traditionalist Miles is. After all, if they’re living with humans, they’ll need to have been given pet licences, rabies vaccines and such – and the vets and bureaucrats will need a name of some sort to file the records under, even if – like “Princess Periwinkle” – that name is subject to change later.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Possible Backstory for Miles and the Pack:

Miles was an exceptional cub. While all wolves are aware from an early age that the humans dominated their world, Miles wanted to know why - and so he made a habit of watching the hikers and picnickers who visited the woods near Babylon Gardens and even of poking around in the outskirts of human settlements.
He was seen a few times of course, but the forest visitors were expecting to see wildlife, and he carefully avoided contact with either humans, or their pets, when he ventured closer. Inevitably though he eventually bumped straight into a human.
Fortunately for him, that human was friendly - and was interested enough in a wolf that wanted to find out about people to talk to him several times. Inquiries eventually led to said human passing Miles a book or two on some of the topics he asked about - and then a few pointers on the alphabet and some reading glasses. Miles still had to do most of the work of learning to read on his own - but a few pointers certainly made it a lot easier. Miles lost touch with “his” human relatively quickly, but he had enough pointers already.
When he reached adulthood, and chose his name, he and several of the young packmates he’d talked about human culture to took names from that culture.
Eventually Miles and several other young wolves left their original pack - their interest in human culture already made them misfits - and moved into the unoccupied areas on the fringes of human territory; none of the other packs wanted to claim lands that close to humanity anyway.
Shortly thereafter, Miles became a father - and Lucretia started to think about what her children’s prospects were going to be like.
They weren’t all that good - but she was familiar enough with human civilization to recognize that joining it would be a vast improvement. She didn’t want to become a pet or zoo animal however; she’d like to join human civilization on equal terms to the humans.
That’s likely to be a great deal harder than the wolves naively thought - but hooking up with the ferrets was a very lucky start indeed.


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Character Dossiers


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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth wrote:
the few other apparent toys in view are for physical games - a bat and a ball. I'm unsure as to what the green thing is, but the room is otherwise rather barren except for a wooden chest.

I always assumed the green thing was a sleeping bag, but didn't say anything at the time because I couldn't figure out what they were doing with one (especially if there's at least three cubs)

Great job so far, by the way.

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Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:39 pm
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
The green thing looks like a carpet that's been folded a little, probably because they wrestled and jumped around.....

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Next up in the dossier parade we have Rex - with a sideline in Jasper and Jinx.

1) First appearance. Rex is apparently a cartoon bulldog, has a skull for a tag, wears a spiked collar, is apparently either angry, frowning, or embarrased, and is apparently upset that Grape is not playing "The Game".
Inference: Rex may have had troublesome experiences with one or more cats who are breaking rules.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/06/2 ... annot-win/

2) This strip lists "neighbor dogs", but doesn't identify any except Bino.
Inference: Rex is probably still with Bino, since he was there last strip. Therefore Rex is probably one of the “neighbor dogs”, and thus lives quite near the Sandwiches.
Inference: Rex is more loyal to Bino than sensible since no sensible person would let Bino have a chainsaw.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/06/2 ... no-escape/

3) Rex again appears as part of Bino's clique. Evidently he has bad taste or is extremely loyal.
4) Either the embarrassed/angry/frown strip across Rex's eyes is a permanent feature, or he is embarrassed by Peanuts drawing of a dog with a cats tail. It's hard to say; he might even have liked it; Joey shows similar indications in later strips.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/07/1 ... n-ostrich/

5) Rex agrees with Bino that Peanut is probably a cat lover. He may or may not believe that that's a serious issue; he doesn't say anything further.
6) Rex continues to hang around with Bino, despite Bino’s evident irrationality.
Inference: Rex, like many of the other dogs, is extremely loyal to his friends, whether or not they’re really worthy of that loyalty.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/07/1 ... ne-either/

7) Rex appears at the Good Ol Dogs Club.
Inference: Given that there’s nothing going on to upset him, It looks like the coloring across his face is simply frown-wrinkles.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/2 ... yal-order/

8) Rex had a brick ready to knock Bino out with.
Inference: Rex realizes that Bino is subject to bouts of complete insanity, and is ready to deal with them - and STILL sticks by him. That probably is the kind of loyalty that Bino wants - or at least is the kind that he needs as well as the only kind that he can keep.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/2 ... nel-klink/

9) Rex is baking Christmas cookies and singing a Christmas song with numerous traditional references.
Inference: Rex does a fair amount of cooking, since he has oven gloves that fit and an apron that fits.
10) Rex's reputation among the other does not match his personality. It's presumably founded strictly on superficial appearances.
Inference: Rex probably lets Bino do most of the talking. He may be the taciturn type.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/1 ... on-of-all/

11) Rex gives his (unnamed) owner a watch.
Inference: Rex's owner wanted a guard dog to watch his house. Ergo, he’s probably out a lot.
Inference: Rex’s owner may have expected Rex to be fairly aggressive. Given than random aggression in canines often springs from insecurity and nervousness, I’d guess that Rex - like many real-world large dogs - has little use for either of those qualities.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

12) Rex is willing to admit that he likes the Pridelands series, even if this does conflict with the impression Bino is trying to produce.
Inference: Rex is literate, honest, and self-confident enough to not worry much about the opinions of the other dogs. Alternatively, Rex is well aware that Bino can’t afford to alienate his few good friends, and will just have to put up with his (Rex’s) opinions regardless.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/04/0 ... ronically/

13) Rex is at the dog park, apparently playing frisbee with Fido.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/0 ... character/

14) Rex is apparently still hanging around with Bino.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/2 ... mpetition/

15) Rex was apparently supposed to be hanging onto Bino or nearby to rescue him from his folly.
Inference: Presuming that Bino actually told Rex that he was supposed to be ready to grab him (a large if), Rex either forgot, was distracted, or didn't make it in time.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/0 ... somewhere/

16) Rex is at the Good Ol Dogs Club Christmas Party - and is still hanging around with Bino.
17) Rex appears to be taken aback by King's tirade; his otherwise semi-permanent frown line is gone.
Inference: Rex is either dim enough not to realize that having a bomb detonated in your face is a reason to lose your temper OR is empathic enough to realize that King has some larger problem underlying the scale of the explosion. Given that Rex could probably have kept Fox and Bino apart, and yet Fox evidently inflicted some injuries on Bino without suffering any himself, I'd guess the latter.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/12/2 ... hed-socks/

18) From the Cast Page Rex is strong and somewhat lacking in brains, but “makes up for it in his uncanny ability to taste minute differences in coffee blends”.
Inference: Rex being a cartoon bulldog vaguely suggests a connection with Jasper and Jinx (on whom we have virtually nothing except the "Tom and Jerry Homage Theme"). Ergo, I'll go with that. What we have on Jasper and Jinx doesn’t really add much though, since it’s pretty sparse:

1) Jasper first appears here, where it's established that he's the silent type, but occasionally speaks in quotes from forgotten television programs.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... more-cats/

2) Jinx appears here (and only here).
3) Jasper appears here, speaking in quotes ("Now you set my soul on fire") to "Girlfriend Cat", and with Jinx giving him a hotfoot.
Inference: Jasper and Jinx are probaby homages to the early Tom and Jerry cartoons - especially likely since Tom and Jerry first appeared under those names and the alt-text tend to support the idea.
Inference: "Girlfriend Cat" looks like Tom's perpetual love-interest, Toodles Galore, and is probably another homage.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/2 ... e-corners/

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For some hypothetical and near-baseless (except in presuming that the group is indeed a Tom and Jerry homage) backstory for Rex, Jasper, and Jinx, we have...

Rex belongs to Mr Bera Ising, while Jasper belongs to his somewhat overweight and politically-incorrect wife Anna (maiden name Tshoe). The Isings own and manage a cleaning and landscaping service - which gets a lot of work considering the things the pets get up to in Babylon Gardens. Jinx belongs to their young son (which is why he can harass Jasper without being eaten and even dares to show up at a "restaurant" that primarly caters to cats; there is a family link with Jasper and some pet-to-pet courtesy to help him out with the other cats).
Since his owners are so busy - entrepreneurs tend to work long hours - the house is left to the pets a lot (one reason why Mr Ising wanted a good watchdog), and Rex manages a lot of the household chores, including a good deal of the cooking. Jasper and Jinx tend to get bored while Anna is at work and the kids are at school, and so spend a good deal of time watching television (one reason that Jasper, when he speaks, mostly speaks in quotes from old television programs) and harassing each other - occasionally interrupting Rex's tasks, and being slapped down for it.
The Ising’s moved into Babylon Gardens fairly early on, making Rex one of Bino’s oldest friends - in part, simply because there weren’t all that many other dogs around at the time. Thanks to his strong loyalty and sense of duty, Rex has stuck with Bino over the ensuing years - which has prevented many of the younger pets and more recent arrivals from really getting acquainted with him, leaving them to judge Rex on his general appearance, spiked collar, and skull tag. (Having Rex looming behind him has actually been a good deal of help to Bino; it’s helped protect him from the obvious consequences of some of his behavior). Jasper is somewhat younger, and was adopted later than Rex, and has been happy to leave most of the household chores to him - although he will sometimes pitch in to clean things up in a hurry before the Isings get home if he and Jinx have caused some sort of disaster, which is all too common when they start chasing each other around the house.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Responses:

Ah, a sleeping bag or large pad is an excellent idea. I was trying to fit it in with the other toys, but the wolves are new to houses - so it seems reasonable that the pack is simply treating the “kids room” as a multipurpose den for them. Ergo, something to sleep on. If the cubs are anything like the litters of Great Pyrenees pups I used to raise, they’ll all like to cuddle up and sleep together anyway.

Once I finish up the final sets of dossiers, I’ll go back through and edit the various suggestions in.

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Character Dossiers


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Post Re: Character Dossiers
I didn't realise you'd already done Daisy.
Not like there's much to do.

But anyway. She's a reference to, well, Princess Daisy.

Just so you know.
If you didn't figure it out already.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth wrote:
Rex belongs to Mr Bera Ising, while Jasper belongs to his somewhat overweight and politically-incorrect wife Anna (maiden name Tshoe).

Did you just make up the name "Ising"? Or is it supposed to be a reference to something in Housepets or something like the several owners of Tom & Jerry?* If it is a reference, I'm not getting it.

*Owners of Tom and Jerry that I remember:
  • Mammy Two Shoes (very strong, temperamental, fat, african-american woman) and the women that replace her
  • Ma and Pop (A thin, white couple, the man always seems to smoke a pipe and wear a black fedora hat)
  • Fat man (a traditional caricature used by Gene Ditch and Chuck Jones)
  • the little girl (a young girl who tries to make Tom play "baby" and drink from a baby bottle) Though I understand you leaving her out since girls usually don't like mice

Also, I know you're trying to reference Mammy Two Shoes with Anna Tshoe, but the way you wrote it seems to imply that she's foul-mouthed, rather than having her be the center/subject/victim of a controversy.

Thoth wrote:
The Isings own and manage a cleaning and landscaping service - which gets a lot of work considering the things the pets get up to in Babylon Gardens.

Would these be the landscapers arranging the ferrets' "shiny things"? [July 22, 2009]

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
'Politically incorrect' for a woman means 'not a feminist' to most people.

The first T&J short was produced by Rudolph Ising, and the series was made by Hanna and Barbera.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Next up is the dossier for the Arbelt Pets - Tiger, Zachary, and Marvin.

1) Tiger is first mentioned - along with the information that "you all" (apparently the local dogs, including Peanut) made fun of Tiger because of his name.
2) Grape feels that Tiger has "crippling emotional problems", and accepts this as a simple fact.
Inference: Tiger’s problems are probably blatantly obvious to everyone who interacts with him.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/0 ... a-nowhere/

3) Marvin and Tiger's first actual appearance.
4) Tiger has evidently been teased about his name to the point where he tolerates it briefly and then snaps.
Inference: Tiger does indeed have major emotional issues. This may be complicated by the fact that the cats don't seem to tease him, and thus he apparently winds up in their company by default.
5) Marvin turns up to restrain Tiger.
Inference: It looks like Marvin is used to having to restrain Tiger. Marvin is probably Tigers pet-sibling, and both cares about him and spends a lot of time in his company.
Note: I get the impression that Marvin is older than Tiger. Given that this would certainly have made it easier for Marvin to build up a habit of restraining Tiger, it seems reasonable enough.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/1 ... s-over-it/

6) Marvin is trailing along as Maxwell spies on the Good Ol Dogs Club.
7) Marvin is apparently only loosely familiar with the functions of the Good Ol Dogs Club.
Inference: Tiger does not normally attend meetings of the Good Ol Dogs Club. He may not be a member or he may just opt to avoid teasing by avoiding attendance.
Inference: Marvin may be interested in the Good Ol Dogs Club on Tiger’s behalf.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/2 ... dog-thing/

8) Tiger has eaten multiple pizzas before dinner. Evidently his problems include both depression and eating when depressed - as well as talking to stuffed toys.
9) Tiger and Marvin are owned by Jerry Arbelt.
Inference: We have some homages here, most notably Jon Arbuckle and the cast page’s noting Tiger as being “sort of like a mix between Garfield and Heathcliff”.
10) Marvin does a lot of looking after Tiger.
Inference: Given that Marvin is a cat, he's either pretty nice in general or Tiger is seriously pathetic, or both. This may not be that uncommon a pattern in the Housepets universe though; the cats seem to be more independent, and thus may often wind up managing the dogs, who seem to tend to be more group-oriented.
11) Jerry Arbelt seems to be known as "Jerry" to his pets, rather than "Dad". That may mean that he treats them less as kids, it may mean that they've had prior owners, or he may just prefer it that way.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/11/1 ... re-at-all/

12) Grape has heard of Marvin, most likely through Bino or in reference to Tiger.
Inference: Marvin is busy - possibly in keeping an eye on Tiger - and doesn’t get out much.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/12/so-thats-a-no/

13) Zachary arrives, as a present to Jerry from Aunt Claire. Marvin seems slightly nonplused. Tiger immediately adds "paranoia" to his list of problems (or, more likely, simply reveals another problem).
Inference: Marvin may well have reason to be nonplused. Giving someone a pet in real life is a bit presumptive. In the Housepets universe it’s a bit more like “Oh! By the way, I signed you up as a foster parent!”.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

14) Tiger continues to develop and expand upon his paranoia.
15) Zachary, as a rabbit, is - sensibly - frightened of the lunatic predator, even if it is a fellow pet.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/0 ... rojecting/

16) Zachary consults Marvin about being scared of Tiger.
17) Marvin is apparently pretty nice, and tries to be comforting while still making excuses for Tiger.
18) Tiger has gone bipolar, and now declares Zachary to be an awesome friend. This is just as scary for Zachary (probably because it confirms that Tiger is both crazy and prone to wild mood swings), and even Marvin can't come up with any more excuses at the moment.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/04/0 ... are-funny/

19) Tiger attempts to ship a rude puppy - belonging to the same aunt who gave Jerry Zachary - to the U.A.E.
Inference: Tiger goes beyond "troubled" to the point of "irrational". At least he does seem relatively accepting of the small puppy until it calls him a kitty; he's not entirely lost to sanity.
Inference: Tiger does not have several hundred dollars to spend.
Note: Even the pups make fun of Tiger. Given canine pack-orientation, it’s no wonder he's out of his mind.
Note: Pap is either too young for a collar and tag, not yet licensed as a pet, or simply isn't wearing one at the moment - possibly due to being kept inside as of yet.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/0 ... -children/

20) Tiger has been taken to the park. Sadly, Zachary is now so nervous and cautious that he can be panicked by Tiger even when Tiger is not at home.
Note: Marvin gives me the impression that he would like to help Zachary out, but that he has no idea of what to do.
Note: “Timid” and “nervous” probably go with being a rabbit.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/0 ... nus-tiger/

21) Tiger and Marvin recognize that they're not actually developing much - and promptly lampshade it.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/0 ... ever-ends/

22) Zachary is feeling extremely depressed - and is also noting that Tiger really hasn't developed much.
23) Zachary is feeling unnoticeable, and isn't noticed by the Raccoon at first either.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/0 ... reciation/

Note: The raccoons are nervous enough to be scared of Zachary. This is also rather sad, even if it’s on the presumption that he might be armed or have allies on call.
Inference: The ferals have good reason to be wary of humans and their pets - probably going beyond the raccoons previous encounter with Grape.
24) Zachary is extremely lonely - enough so as to disregard the fact that ferals can be quite dangerous.
25) Zachary has apparently never really left human custody, and lacks sufficient social connections to gather information about life "outside the house" indirectly.
Inference: Zachary is finding his life sufficiently depressing to be interested in alternatives.
26) Tiger routinely misbehaves in a variety of ways.
Inference: Jerry has a lot of patience, and may regard Tiger as being less mature than Marvin.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/0 ... bad-bunny/

27) Tiger is still indulging his eating disorder - and Jerry still hasn't locked the cookies away.
Inference: Jerry is relying too much on reason, and not enough on psychotherapy or direct action. He probably doesn’t realize just how far over the edge Tiger is. It’s likely that he knows that Tiger crated Pap (not too uncommon with unruly puppies), but not that he tried to ship him to the U.A.E.
28) Jerry is concerned for his pets - but seems to refer to them as being adults ("the poor guy" versus alternatives such as "the poor kid" or "the poor bunny"). This provides some more support for the “treats them as adults” hypothesis.
29) Zachary is apparently feeling small and overwhelmed. Of course, he is a rabbit.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/11/key-phrase/

30) Zachary thinks the assorted minor ferals are "awesome". Evidently, at the moment, virtually any lifestyle other than his own, or at least any lifestyle away from Tiger, looks appealing to him.
31) Zachary pushes a button to open the "Mysterious Ancient Temple".
Note: This still seems a bit odd; it’s that easy and it’s stood up to investigative raccoons for more than an hour? I suspect that something else is going on there.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/1 ... done-that/

32) Tiger is now confused enough that he doesn't seem to be entirely clear on the fact that he's a dog.
Inference: Tiger may be getting worse. He may well still be relatively young. After all, if he was much older and larger than Peanut, Peanut might have been reluctant to join in teasing him.
33) Tiger does not want to work with Bino, even in an emergency.
Note: Bino isn't much help either. Of course, it would be wildly out of character if he was.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/1 ... oth-start/

34) Zachary evidently has gotten out more then we've seen and made more friends than he knows: Grape recognizes him on sight and states that "everyone back home is worried sick about you".
35) Zachary didn't believe that the local forest had laurels. A bit more evidence for him at least getting out of the house a bit occasionally, otherwise how would he know?
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/23/so-cool/

36) Tiger is still wanting/threatening "to kill you (Bino) in your sleep".
37) Tiger and Bino do share a certain rapport - admittedly, the sympathy of the insane, but it does seem to be there.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/25/whoops/

From the Cast page:
38) Tiger was adopted as a pup, and was then named Tiger by his owner. It seems likely that Jerry was his original owner; otherwise he - like Princess Periwinkle - might well have had a name change. He’s aggressive and paranoid.
39) Marvin is more patient and understanding with Tiger than the dogs. In fact, most of the cats are more patient and understanding with Tiger, and that doesn’t help with Tiger’s issues one bit.
40) Zachary lived in a pet store since he was a kit, and was a bit hyped up about finally being a pet - but now isn’t sure he likes it.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Possible Backstory for Marvin, Tiger, and Zachary

Marvin - a friendly, sensible, and comfortable, cat - had been with Jerry for a couple of years (since Jerry was a teenager) when he moved into Babylon Gardens. Given that they’d finished growing up together, Jerry tended to see Marvin as more of a roommate than a “pet” - and found it enjoyable to have some low-maintenance company around the house.
Jerry had been thinking about getting a dog as well, and the pet-friendly environment certainly encouraged that idea, so it wasn’t all that long before the Arbelt’s had a new puppy in the family. Jerry named his new pup “Tiger” - since it never really occurred to him or Marvin that your name might be that much of a problem. Neither of them had quite realized how much more group-oriented dogs were than cats, or how much the other dogs in the neighborhood would torment “Tiger” over his name.
Jerry, of course, saw Tiger grow to adulthood with the usual startling speed of a dog, and has simply assumed that he’s an adult now and - like most adults - has settled down into maturity.
Marvin knows better, but isn’t too sure what to do; he didn’t see the problem until it was too late either - and how will it help to tell Jerry that “Oh, by the way; your choice of a name accidently drove Tiger completely out of his mind”? For the moment, he’s mostly trying to keep on restraining Tiger when he slips over the edge, keep everyone calm, and make excuses in hopes that Tiger will indeed settle down.
Sadly, it’s gradually becoming apparent that Tiger is getting worse, not better, and Marvin STILL has no idea of what to do (trying to spy on the Good Ol Dogs Club in search of clues was no help at all). He’s fond of Tiger of course. Puppies are pretty emotionally adhesive, and Tiger is his pet-sibling - but trying to mail Pap to the U.A.E. for making a rude remark is pretty over the top.
Marvin was busy enough with Tiger that the arrival of Zachary caught him off guard - and he’s finding it difficult to deal with the fact that Tiger seems to be driving Zachary crazy in his turn. He’d like to help Zachary - and may be reaching the point where he’ll see no alternative to alerting Jerry to the problem - but he still doesn’t know what to do.
On Zachary’s end, he grew up in a pet shop - which was comfortable enough, if pretty boring. It had really made him look forward to someone buying him. He was kind of sorry that - when someone finally did - it was as a present. It was usually better if your new owner picked you out for themselves. On the other hand, he was finally getting adopted...
Discovering that he was more or less a third wheel - and that one of his new pet-siblings was (as they say) “barking mad” - has definitely made him start thinking twice. Perhaps being a pet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Responses:

For Ebly:

I fear I wouldn’t know if Daisy is a video-game reference; I’ve never really played video games much. Looking at it, it might just be coincidence at this point though. Getting a dog named Daisy a flower tag is fairly reasonable, and other than that it’s just a name.

For Frank:

Rudolf Ising was the producer for the first short, where "Tom and Jerry" appeared under the "Jasper and Jinx" names. Given that the "homage" preference seems to be for older versions, referencing him seemed appropriate.
Bera is a reference to Joseph Barbera, one of the original Tom and Jerry creators. Anna is a reference to William Hanna, the other one. I considered using "Hanna" since it is an acceptable female first name, but I went with the “change it just enough" rule. “Tshoes” is, of course, a reference to “Mammy Two-Shoes”.

I'm sorry, but I don't see the logic of going from observing that an individual is "Politically Incorrect" (with no statement as to why) to inferring that they're "foul-mouthed". As far as I can tell, the two are quite unrelated. In this case, it's simply that having a "fat black woman doing housekeeping" is commonly regarded as being politically incorrect. Thus, if the original version of Mammy Two-Shoes was to make an appearance, the strip might also be regarded as politically incorrect. This is in fact a does-not-follow argument; people who are well over their "ideal weight", females, people with high melanin levels, and people who do housekeeping are all fairly common, and some individuals will certainly fall into all four categories. Observing that fact, or introducing such a character, does not carry any inherent social statement.

As far as ownership of Jinx goes...
Since Housepets cats generally have no objection to actually killing and eating mice and - unlike the Tom and Jerry cartoons - the situation doesn’t reset itself, a reason why Jinx could apparently make a habit of pestering Jasper and yet still be alive seemed required. Presuming that he's a pet of someone in the (presumptive) Ising family seemed to be the simplest way to account for it.
The idea that the Isings have a son is based on a scene from "Ho Ho Horrors" where the mantlepiece photos imply that the updated version of Mammy Two Shoes had a husband and a son. That bit actually is the product of a couple of minutes research: I looked up Tom and Jerry over on Wikipedia to look for the original producer's name, and there's an entry on Mammy Two-Shoes.
Given that Rex seems to belong more to his "Father", that Tom belonged to Mammy back in the original cartoons, and that mice are more popular as pets with children than with adults, it seemed reasonable that Jinx - if a pet - would belong to the presumptive child in the family.

As for the landscaping and cleaning service... That’s an extension of the "housekeeping" theme updated for the times and for a middle-class neighborhood, and presumably includes replacing chainsawed trees (the game arc), filling holes in lawns (the easter egg hunt), collecting stray streamers and litter after middle-of-the-street dog parties (after Fido's welcome-back party), and sweeping up the ashes scattered from burned buildings (the easter egg hunt again), as well as arranging the ferrets shiny things.

Given that Babylon Gardens was set up by Mr Milton to serve his own purposes, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a maintenance contract on the place - and asking for your maintenance contractors to live on site is a pretty standard maneuver for landlords with rental properties. We know that there are at least some of those in Babylon Gardens since the wolves are "renting" a house. I'd guess that it's from the Milton Estate, since otherwise - given the ferrets finances - it would be easier for them to simply buy one.

For Rick:

Alas! You have seen through my thinly-disguised names!
Oh, wait: You were supposed to.
Never mind!

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Character Dossiers


Last edited by Thoth on Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:09 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
I haven't said anything yet, but it's really impressive to see someone putting so much effort into such a large undertaking. You must really love Housepets!

Having said that, I've noticed some small errors which I will be pointing out as soon as I remember what they are. xD

As a suggestion, maybe include a picture of each character? That way, people who may not be as familiar with the comic can know instantly to whom each entry refers.

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Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:28 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
thoth wrote:
12) Grape has heard of Marvin, most likely through Bino or in reference to Tiger.
Inference: Marvin is busy - possibly in keeping an eye on Tiger - and doesn’t get out much.


Well Grape herself has admitted to not hanging out with cats much, and we do see Marvin socializing at the mall, (but then again, most of the other cats were there anyway...) Probably when Marvin goes out, Tiger is with Jerry and when Jerry isn't around, Marvin is. I mean we've seen reason for Tiger to have constant supervision but we do see Marvin on his own or away from Tiger enough.

thoth wrote:
31) Zachary pushes a button to open the "Mysterious Ancient Temple".
Note: This still seems a bit odd; it’s that easy and it’s stood up to investigative raccoons for more than an hour? I suspect that something else is going on there


Yea, this is a very interesting point in the story. On the one hand we have the fact that all Zach did was push a button, implying some form of technology. If things were so simple, why couldn't anyone else do it? But Pete and Tarot have both confirmed that magic does indeed exist. That being said, most magic doesn't really need an explanation, we just write it off as "because it does". So if Zach really IS the chosen one, magic might have only allowed him to push the button. Kinda' like the sword in the stone. The buttons themselves still confuse me tho'...

Also, I didn't get the Tom and Jerry connection until you mentioned it, and I thought that that was both interesting and funny.

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Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:45 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Wow! Thoth, that was quite a lengthy reply. The connection was that, when I hear someone is politically incorrect I take it to mean they say politically incorrect things to people, which, in turn, usually means they insult people (with no statement as to why).

No objections as to your other replies. The references to Rudolf Ising and Hanah Barbera were very creative.

ndigit wrote:
thoth wrote:
31) Zachary pushes a button to open the "Mysterious Ancient Temple".
Note: This still seems a bit odd; it’s that easy and it’s stood up to investigative raccoons for more than an hour? I suspect that something else is going on there

Yeah, this is a very interesting point in the story. On the one hand we have the fact that all Zach did was push a button, implying some form of technology. If things were so simple, why couldn't anyone else do it?

Zach has spent his whole life around humans (at least, that's the way it looks unless Rick proves otherwise) and therefore is more familiar with the concept of a button. If you've seen Indiana Jones, you'll know pretty much anything we take to require a modern motor can be made driven by weights (of course, it takes up much more space)

Of course, the fact that there's "something more" to Zach, and "magic exists", feels much better, from the standpoint of the reader. But then again, isn't that just what we want to believe?

Thoth wrote:
30) Zachary things the assorted minor ferals are "awesome".

I suppose that should be "thinks", but what's a typo in the midst of such awesome work?

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Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:50 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Yo, I'm still not into all this deep analysis (which I doubt our illustrious author even considered) but I think I can elaborate on your backstory of the wolves and all that.
Miles probably associated with the local ranger. There are very few areas that would have wolves but do not have a park ranger. A park ranger would have a reason to associate with wolves, and would be unlikely to fear them, given a ranger's knowledge and status. The way I would picture it is that the local ranger simply thought Miles was cool and hung out with him alot. This explains the understanding of things in human homes (like furniture and cups, which a ranger would have) and why he was actually comfortable with humans and didn't freak out. Also, Miles is definitely the pack's leader (the concept of "Alphas" and "Betas" is actually a myth): he's the smartest and most active one and he's boldly leading the others on this adventure.

Of course, as I said, I still doubt Mr. Griffin has considered any of this: this seems to me like it's just an entertaining story being played out, not a heavily researched and thought out novel. It doesn't matter how these characters picked up the traits they did, only that they are plausible within the given world and make the story interesting.

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Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:39 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Next up are the dossiers for Fiddler, Keys, and the Raccoons.

Given that there really isn’t much on Fiddler and Keys, they’ll be first:

1) Fiddler and Keys first appear here, providing music - via fiddle and a portable electronic keyboard - for the Yarn Ball.
2) They've got a miniature keyboard and fiddle for tags respectively.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/3 ... he-ritz-2/

3) Fiddler appears at the bookstore waiting for the Pridelands release. Presumably he or she is a fan.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/03/1 ... cat-again/

4) Keys appears to talk with Fox. He or She appears to be tolerably well informed about Henry Milton, his construction of Babylon Gardens, and the fact that the ferrets have been left far, far, too much money.
Inference: While Keys is, of course, simply providing some exposition here, it's likely that the character simply pays more attention to the human news than most of the pets do.
Note: Fox evidently moved in some time after Babylon Gardens was underway, although possibly still rather early.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/2 ... ngs-first/

5) Fiddler and Keys appear to be out to eat together. It's probably a date, if a somewhat troubled one considering that the "You're suffocating me" line pops up after an inquiry as to what Keys is having - and that doesn't seem to fit in with two friends having a night out.
Note: Their collars don't match. This is a very slight argument against them belonging to the same owner, but not much of one.
Note: I personally get the impression that Fiddler is female and Keys is male, but there really aren't that many clues.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/1 ... kill-cafe/

6) From the cast page: "A cat duo who play the insturments they’re named after. This is likely due to an aggressive push by their owners to have musical cats".
Inference: When the author says that something is "likely", it picks up a certain weight - barring something being hidden for plot reasons. It’s possible (along with a thousand other unlikely scenarios) that Fiddler and Keys are, in fact, the representatives of the Seelie Court, present in Babylon Gardens to keep an eye on the Ancient Temple, and Rick is simply concealing that fact so it can be a surprise later. It doesn’t seem at all likely.

Possible Backstory for Fiddler and Keys:

Uhm... Well, there’s nothing much to explain...

They’re cats, their owners wanted to have musical cats, and pushed them to learn to play. Keys is (possibly) male and takes an interest in the history of the neighborhood and what the humans are up to. Fiddler is (possibly) female and is a fan of the Pridelands series. They sometimes go out on dates*, but seem to have trouble with their relationship outside of music.

    *If they both belong to the same family, some of the readers may have objections to them dating based on their status as semi-siblings. This seems unlikely to apply in the housepets universe however, since most animal breeders through history have owned both the animals in question.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We do have a bit more on the Raccoons, since they’ve been major characters in at least one arc - even if it was a relatively short one.

1) The raccoons - despite speaking excellent English - aren't actually very familiar with human culture; they know that there's supposed to be food in the pantry, but don't understand cans or know about can openers.
2) The raccoons are used to raiding human trash for food.
3) The raccoons are used to looking for cat (and presumably dog) food.
Inference: Given the search for cat food, and by the fact that dog kibble shows up at Fido's welcome-home party, I’d presume that dry cat and dog food are commonly kept around as basic supplies - even though the pets eat a lot of other things - in about the same way that most people have a jar of peanut butter around the house.
Sub-inference: The dry cat and dog food are probably pretty good, given that the pets can tell the researchers (and their “parents”) which ones they like better and why.
Inference: Judging by the Raccoons knocking things over despite their attempt to be silent, and by Grape's turning on the light, neither the housepets raccoons nor the housepets cats have very good night vision. The usual rule of visual storytelling - “the audience has to be able to see what’s going on” - applies.
Inference: The raccoons are afraid of humans and their pets.
Note: The raccoons look - at least to me - scrawny and underfed next to Grape.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/11/dont-shoot/

4) The raccoons are, again apparently frightened of Grape - despite outnumbering her two to one. They do look more equivalent in this strip than in the last one however.
5) One of the raccoons attempts to intimidate Grape, who apparently doesn’t find the performance very convincing.
Inference: The other raccoon probably doesn’t think that intimidation attempts are going to work. His or her expression might indicate that as well, but that’s quite subjective.
Note: Real raccoons are, on the average, substantially larger and heavier than real housecats. The heaviest recorded wild raccoon weighed better than sixty pounds, although the vast majority are under thirty. Raccoons are also noted for undoing fastenings and opening a variety of locks, turning doorknobs, breaking into birdfeeders, unscrewing wingnuts, popping open snap-buckles, and similar feats, as well as remembering the solutions to problems up to at least three years later. I almost hate to think of what fully sapient raccoons, with thumbs, would get up to.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/13/stick-em-up/

8) Grape is pretty sure the raccoons will be back thanks to her owners poor security measures.
Inference: Given that the raccoons were hunting for food, evidently they’re often going hungry. That might account for the “scrawny and underfed” impression.
Inference: Both of the raccoons left in good enough shape to come back - unless Grape is simply talking about raccoons or wildlife as a general group.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/15/a-minor-flaw/

9) A raccoon is very pleased to get what is apparently a Christmas present from Daisy.
Inference: This raccoon may be pleased to get some friendly attention from anyone, and winter is probably a hungry time for him or her, just as it is for real raccoons.
Inference: It's possible that the raccoons (or this raccoon) are friends of Daisies, or she might just be giving gifts at random.
Note: Only one raccoon appears here. Hopefully it's just that the other one is not around at the moment or didn’t fit into the single panel.
Note: It's vaguely possibly that the bag is not a gift at all, or not for the raccoons, or it could even be some sort of birdie-trap - but given the tone, and what little we have on Daisy, that sort of thing doesn't seem very likely.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

10) Our "Masked Bandit" is still burglarizing houses in search of trash.
Inference: Raccoons aren't good at organizing long-term projects either, or they could probably set up a deal to sort the garbage for recycling and get plenty of food. Personally, I’d hope that the Ferrets offer to hire the raccoons for such tasks; they’d be far cheaper than regular workers.
Note: Anti-rabies efforts often include the distribution of oral vaccines to wildlife through baits. While this is designed to reduce the occurrence of rabies in the wild to reduce its danger to humans, similar programs and public-health measures may offer substantial benefits to ferals who learn the local human language and cooperate to some extent with humans.
11) Our raccoon seems to be even more frightened of humans and their pets - including Zachary - than it was before.
Note: Trembling (judging by the motion lines) with fear over being confronted with a depressed rabbit is kind of sad - and we're still seeing only one raccoon. This might indicate that something unpleasant has happened to the other one.
Note: Captive raccoons can live for up to twenty years (or even longer in the Housepets universe if the increased lifespans for pets apply to them as well) while the average lifespan for wild raccoons is under three.
12) Our raccoon is willing to serve as a tour guide to the feral world in exchange for some food from the trash. Evidently he or she is pretty hungry.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/0 ... reciation/

13) The raccoon is actually a pretty good tour guide - introducing Zachary to various forest creatures and showing him the "mysterious ancient temple".
14) According to the raccoon’s speech about the ancient temple "Legend says it contains the power to equalize all beings and instigate a new golden age but it's been sealed for thousands of years and nobody can decipher the inscription and solve it's mystical lock".
Note: To toss in with the other theories on the nature of the Ancient Temple and how a simple "open" button could go undiscovered for so long (over in the section on Pete), I'll add a one more random possibility - "the raccoon is, in classic tour-guide fashion, exaggerating the spiel a great deal in an attempt to make an exotic or unexpected item even more interesting and exciting".
15) The other ferals do seem enthused about seeing it open. The "All hail the opener of ways!" bit is suggestive.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/1 ... done-that/

16) Our raccoon is excited enough to try stop Grape and Peanut from entering the ancient temple - but immediately gives in when Grape threatens him or her.
17) The ferals don't seem to approve of "subjugation to the humans".
(Wild) Speculation: We've been informed that the talking animals are natural to the housepets world. Perhaps the humans aren't, and that's how they wound up in charge; they arrived with major edges already in place.
18) Peanut seems a bit confused to be confronted by a raccoon; evidently this isn't normal raccoon behavior.
Inference: Judging by the "please don't hurt me", the threatening raccoon back in the raccoon arc may simply have been too excited to think about the possible consequences of confronting Grape and Peanut - or didn’t see any alternative.
Note: We haven’t seen a raccoon again since this strip. Fortunately for said raccoon, he or she is too large to share the fate of Karl-Lenin Faust.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/2 ... hall-pass/

Possible backstory for the Raccoons:

Once again, there isn’t much to explain: the raccoons are simply wild raccoons, born in the area. The fact that humans have been building on it, instead of leaving it as a wooded estate, doesn’t make it any less their home.
It does mean that there’s less food available from the land, making for hungry raccoons.
Fortunately, humans throw away huge amounts of food.
Unfortunately, humans tend to see raccoons as messy, meddlesome, potential disease-carriers, and don’t want to let them have that food. Thus the raccoon-proof garbage cans and the tendency for the cats and dogs to chase the raccoons away. It’s even worse when the humans get involved actively; then the traps, poisons, and guns come out. Swiping food from the humans has turned out to be pretty dangerous in the long run (and may account for why we’re now seeing only one raccoon instead of the original pair).
Still, raccoons are more than clever enough to be looking for a better way to survive.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Replies

For Dissension:
Well, corrections, notes, and alternative theories are always welcome! I have been intending to add pictures with later rounds of updates - and as I get a little more familiar with bulletin board code.

For ndigit:
On Marvin, Oh yes, I'd assume that he gets out some - but I'd guess that he'd get out a lot more if it wasn't for Tiger.

There are some additional theories about the "Mysterious Ancient Temple" under Pete's entry - but I suspect that Rick, as a gamer, has has a pretty good idea of how magic works in the housepets universe. I wouldn't bet on buttons implying technology though.

Zachary might indeed be the "chosen one", although that leaves open the question of "why send dreams to Grape?". For another quick theory, perhaps it's the classic "impossible fate" gag: "No creature of civilization, nor of the wilds, may open the way!". Ergo, Pete guesses that cats - since they may live with humans, but spend a lot of time in the wilds - may fit the terms, and so tries to manipulate Grape (the closest receptive cat). In actuality, of course, it turns out that Zachary - who has spent all his time with human civilization, but is considering rejecting it, and now stands upon the threshold of the wilds, belonging to neither - is a much better fit.

Still too many possibilities. I'll have to put that one in with the rest of the "pending more information" pile.

For Frank:

Ah; "says politically incorrect things" versus "is inherently politically incorrect". I just didn't see what you meant since I tend to take “politically incorrect” to mean “things that are factually accurate but which are considered socially inexpedient to state”. After all, if they were simply wrong, they’d simply be incorrect.

Zach is stated to have grown up in a pet shop on the cast page, so I'd assume that he;'s familiar with switches, buttons, and so on. (Hm. I could just see a "Pet Shop" that's theoretically owned by some elderly or disinterested human being run by the occupants more-or-less as a co-op adoption agency/temporary agency). It's just that - having watched the ongoing battle of raccoons versus birdfeeders and "raccoon-proof" garbage cans - I would still guess that there's something more to it than "push the button".

I wouldn't suggest looking to movies as sources for mechanics (personally, I'd suggest "The Ancient Engineers" by L. Sprague de Camp for a good survey of historical engineering, although it is a bit dated in spots, or spending some time over at The Archimedes Project: http://archimedes2.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/ ... roject.htm - although I'd point out that, over a few centuries, ropes unravel and break, metals corrode, bend, and bind, wood decays, lubricants evaporate and decay, dust, sand, the detritus left by living organisms, and other impediments accumulate, and pits - needed to let weights descend - tend to fill. Offhand, I can't recall an ancient mechanism much more complex than a deadfall or hand quern actually being found in working order.

And that “thing” is indeed a typo: I'll be fixing that now. Thanks for the proofreading, and I'm glad you find this interesting!

For Rocketstar Raccoon

Miles might well have associated with a park ranger - however, wolves range quite widely. This is the basic cause of conflicts with ranchers and such; if the wolves remained quietly in parks, the local ranchers would not care. In the Housepets universe, where wolves can intelligently avoid conflicts with humans, there’s good reason to expect them to be considerably more widely distributed than in reality. Thus the nature of that hypothetical association was unspecified.

Now, the hierarchal pack structure models are mostly based on observations of wolf behavior in captivity, and hence under unnatural conditions. However, the observation that most wild packs support only a single breeding pair (a secondary pair sometimes breeds in exceptionally good years) appears to be reasonably accurate, and that is the fundamental basis of assigning dominant status to particular individuals. In areas where food is abundant, life is easy, and territory is available, wolves will tend to split up into individual pairs and raise their own families. Where larger packs are required for effective hunting or holding a hunting territory, you tend to get “nuclear family” groups first (where the parents maintain dominance until the pups disperse as they reach sexual maturity).

As stress increases, and larger packs become necessary, dominance behavior becomes exaggerated. In evolutionary terms, this can be expected because the group now includes competition from less-closely related genetic combinations. Dominance behaviors also become more significant when the pack leader/breeding pair position opens and the remaining wolves in the pack attempt to claim it (individuals that did not attempt to exploit such opportunities will pass on their genes less often, and so such tendencies are selected against). The Alpha -> Omega model is indeed an oversimplification, and generally only applicable in cases where packs involve more than a nuclear family - however, we know this to be the case; Mile’s pack contains at least two of his brothers, yet only he and his mate seem to have produced pups.

As for the extent of Rick’s examination of his world, we do know that the first strip went up a year and a half ago, and that he’s been thinking about it since 2006 (per the “About” page). We also know that he’s provided thoughtful answers on the question threads, the he has a penchant for planning events well in advance (such as Grape’s revelation that she was female), and that he’s writing the strip (which, for most authors, means having motivations and backstory in mind for pretty much all the major characters). We also know that he’s a gamer - and gamers usually give a good deal of attention to their world backgrounds as a matter of course.

Personally, I’d also have to say he’s a very good storyteller - which usually means thinking a lot of things through, whether consciously or not. Personally I’d expect that even casual thought about the strip over a multi-year period would go into considerably more detail than I throw together in couple of spare hours. There are three major possibilities: (1) That Rick hasn’t given much thought to anything except making an entertaining strip. (2) That Rick has considered his world and characters throughly, if only subconsciously, in order to make his strips hang together. And (3) That Rick has given his world a good deal of thought - either intentionally or while thinking about strips and answering questions - over the past four years. Personally, I’d say that the evidence suggests some variant of (2) or (3).

In any case, for the purposes of this thread, it doesn't matter: the analysis here is simply recreational anyway.

Return to the Thread Index: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=199&start=0

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Character Dossiers


Last edited by Thoth on Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:11 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth wrote:
3) The raccoons are used to looking for cat (and presumably dog) food.

Actually, I thought the dialogue in that strip included Grape. Grape, being a cat, has rather good night vision, and turns on the light not to see the raccoons, but for them to see her. Here's how I imagined the last two pannels:
    (Enter Grape, having been awoken by the strange voices. She sees something moving near the trash, but can't make out the species)
    Grape: Waiting for trash day is too much trouble too, I take it?
    Raccoon 1: Hey, I'm hungry
    Grape: While you're at it see if there's any cat food
    (Racoon 2 realizes they've been spotted. He/she panicks and runs, knocking the trash can over)
    Grape: WATCH OUT!
    CRASH
    Raccoon 2: QUICK, LET'S GET OUT OF--
    (Grape switches the lights on)
    Raccoon 2: --here.

Here's how I think you've imagined them:
    (Raccoon 1 climbs atop the trash bin to try to reach the pantry, while Raccoon 2 holds it for him/her, still unconvinced that it's a good idea)
    Raccoon 2: Waiting for trash day is too much trouble too, I take it?
    Raccoon 1: Hey, I'm hungry
    Raccoon 2: While you're at it see if there's any cat food
    (The trash bin rocks)
    Raccoon 2: WATCH OUT!
    (Raccoon 1 falls)
    CRASH
    (Enter Grape, having been awoken by the loud crash)
    Raccoon 2: QUICK, LET'S GET OUT OF--
    (Grape switches the lights on)
    Raccoon 2: --here.

Note that I still think your inferences are valid ;) Also, it is possible that Grape was awake already, cats being most active at twilight.

Thoth wrote:
I wouldn't suggest looking to movies as sources for mechanics... although I'd point out that, over a few centuries, ropes unravel and break, metals corrode, bend, and bind, wood decays, lubricants evaporate and decay, dust, sand, the detritus left by living organisms, and other impediments accumulate
Actually, I originally had BBC's Secrets of the Ancients there, but then I remembered they really don't use weight-driven mechanisms. In fact, they show that the only viable way to build things in antiquity was by putting in things that would rot, such as using animal guts as lubricant. I needed an example where things actually would last, despite being rather silly as a support.

I guess this also means "magic" really is the only sensible explanation in this case

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
frank wrote:
Actually, I thought the dialogue in that strip included Grape. Grape, being a cat, has rather good night vision, and turns on the light not to see the raccoons, but for them to see her. Here's how I imagined the last two pannels:

(Enter Grape, having been awoken by the strange voices. She sees something moving near the trash, but can't make out the species)
Grape: Waiting for trash day is too much trouble too, I take it?
Raccoon 1: Hey, I'm hungry
Grape: While you're at it see if there's any cat food
(Racoon 2 realizes they've been spotted. He/she panicks and runs, knocking the trash can over)
Grape: WATCH OUT!
CRASH
Raccoon 2: QUICK, LET'S GET OUT OF--
(Grape switches the lights on)
Raccoon 2: --here.


Well if you just looked at the last two panels then yes this might make sense but what would be Grape's reasoning to only turn on the lights when the raccoons made noise? Also, there were statements of surprise on both sides in the next strip, when Grape shouted "RACCOONS!" and the other two yelled "CAT!!" Even if you meant that Grape was talking but the raccoons didn't know it was her, Grape wouldn't have shouted in surprise because that would imply that she did know it was them.

And finally when it said "Waiting for trash day is too much trouble too, I take it?" it was a reply to "Those crazy rumors again? That's too much trouble." Which was from a conversation trying to figure out what a can opener was. And we're pretty sure, Grape being a house cat, might actually know what a can opener is.

thoth wrote:
I wouldn't bet on buttons implying technology though.


Well I guess not but I'm not really talking about electricity and all that, just so we're clear. I guess mechanics, or something would be more accurate? Idk more poor choice of words on my part. But yeah when you think about magic, it's usually sparkling runes, glowing lights, mysterious incantations, while pushing a button to open a sliding door just doesn't seem so...magical. Then again, a "Sword in the Stone" thing might apply here. I think what would give us more clarity on this is who and why did they seal away Pete? Is Pete really that dangerous, or was there an ulterior reasoning for having Pete cast away? Did I just go waaay off topic?

Too many questions...................................................................................................

Anyway.

Yeah.

Buttons don't imply modern technology.

Very true.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
thoth wrote:
I wouldn't bet on buttons implying technology though.


I wouldn't bet on 'technology' implying electronics, computers, or any other modern convenience, either. Technology can refer to a system, technique, method of organization or, yes, a machine of any level of complexity. A push-button does, therefore, imply technology.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Duke:Image
Keene:Image
Lana:Image
Pit:Image
Rock:Image
Simon:Image

Just thought I'd leave this here for those who still don't have them straight quite yet. I mean, unless someone else already did this. In which case I feel a bit stupid. But whatever, the only thing I'm really worried about is if this shouldn't be here.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Next up we have the dossier for the Milton Ferrets:

1) The Milton ferrets first appear - pleased and excited at going from "being given away for free" to "multibillionaires".
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/2 ... n-babylon/

Note: The Milton Estate is a huge house, with some fairly extensive grounds, at the end of Babylon Drive.
2) The ferrets are indulging their love of shiny things.
Note: Henry Milton built the neighborhood.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/2 ... ngs-first/

3) The ferrets apparently want to personally interact with the other pets.
Inference The ferrets may have been a bit isolated up until now.
Note: Henry Milton loved animals of all kinds, lost his taste for high living years ago, and disliked people treating their pets like toys - which was apparently all too common.
4) The ferrets are still amusing themsleves with the privileges of being absurdly rich, although they do seem to miss "Dad".
5) The ferrets aren't too serious - at least as yet - about living as "Dad" would have liked them too.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/2 ... gs-change/

6) The ferrets have requested Herman Steward to serve as their steward because of the inherent pun.
7) The ferrets will be allowing tours of the Milton Estate, and the first one will be pets-only.
8) The ferrets will be awarding one pet on the tour a grand prize of their own choosing.
Note: Fox feels that the ferrets are blatantly eccentric, and that the prize may well be something weird and useless.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/2 ... mpetition/

9) Duke likes to eat mice and/or is finding amusement in harrassing Fido and Spo.
10) Duke is also very direct, and definitely a predator.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/2 ... -cant-buy/

11) The ferrets can see through Joey's disguises. Admittedly, Joey’s disguise is improvised and consists of nothing but a bit of a mask, and the size is wrong - but they're still the first pets seen to do so without prompting.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/3 ... y-the-foo/

12) Fox feels that the ferrets are reveling in their money, but still clearly anti-elitist. Given that he's presumably seen more of them than the readers, the opnion has some weight.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/0 ... et-so-far/

13) The ferrets feel that Bino is either stupid or crazy - and that video games are more interesting than he is.
14) The ferrets are aware of the local dog club, and that Bino is more or less running it.
Inference: The Ferrets get at least partial reports on what’s going on in the neighborhood from someone.
15) The ferrets are using blackberrys and Email - and have either been monitoring the security footage or (more likely) have been having someone else do it.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/0 ... somewhere/

16) The ferrets awarded their grand prize (a big bag of money) to Daisy, but named their new pet health and wellness fund after Bino - the "Boy Bino sure is an idiot trust fund".
Note: We get a clear full-body comparison in this strip; the ferrets are indeed quite small.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/0 ... llar-sign/

17) The ferrets - or at least Keene - are riding around in limousines, drinking orange soda - and occasionally picking up stray animals.
18) The ferrets - or at least Keene - have no sense of caution. After all, wolves will normally happily eat ferrets.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/0 ... n-the-car/

19) The ferrets have been binging on ferretone (an oily, flavored, vitamin and fatty-acid supplement for ferret diets).
20) The ferrets apparently want to follow through on Mr Milton's desire to prove that animals are "people" too, and are not just subject to instinct and appetite.
21) Evidently the ferrets still miss Mr Milton, want to follow through on his goals, and feel guilty over not doing so vey well - at least as of yet.
22) Ferrets get drunk on orange soda.
Note: I've never been able to tell if sugar had an intoxicating effect on ferrets: all of them I've encountered seem to be constantly crazy anyway.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/0 ... st-friend/

23) The ferrets seem to recover from sugar-intoxication quite rapidly.
24) The ferrets - or at least Keene - are evidently going to be trying to bring ferals into civilization and demonstrate that ferals, and presumably pets, are, indeed, people - just like human beings.
25) The ferrets seem to be well aware of the legalities of being and owning pets, and want to adhere to the letter of the law the better to bend it out of all recognition.
Inference: They've probably had quite a few consultations with competent lawyers over what they can and cannot get away with doing.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/0 ... o-they-do/

26) Money talks. As the local landlords, the ferrets have a lot of influence, both direct and indirect.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/1 ... y-officer/

27) Lana has been going over Mile's papers; evidently the pack is a general project for the ferrets.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2010/01/0 ... -nor-face/

28) The ferrets have been investing essentially at random. Fortunately, they're incredibly lucky.
29) The ferrets are also considered quite newsworth - although the impression they're producing is questionable.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2010/01/11/easy-money/

30) The ferrets have found a “treasure map”, but seem to be paying no attention to the instructions on it, even if they are apparently from Mr Milton.
31) The ferrets like newspeople, and are - apparently - somewhat silly.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2010/01/1 ... t-of-none/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Possible Backstory for the Milton Ferrets:

In this case, there is - once again - essentially nothing to explain. They’re ferrets, they were probably purchased from a pet store (if Mr Milton was rescuing pets, there would presumably be more than six ferrets around given his level of wealth), and they were left a lot of money. Like most ferrets, they’re far more energetic and enthusiastic than sensible. In their own quixotic and eccentric way, they’ve taken up their deceased “Dad’s” philosophical position - but are trying to push it well beyond the simple “pet-friendly neighborhood” that Mr Milton opted to have as his most public display of support for animal rights on into blatant attempts to bring animals into human society as equals.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Responses:

For Frank:

Frank wrote:
Actually, I thought the dialogue in that strip included Grape. Grape, being a cat, has rather good night vision, and turns on the light not to see the raccoons, but for them to see her. Here's how I imagined the last two pannels:
(Enter Grape, having been awoken by the strange voices. She sees something moving near the trash, but can't make out the species)
Grape: Waiting for trash day is too much trouble too, I take it?
Raccoon 1: Hey, I'm hungry
Grape: While you're at it see if there's any cat food
(Racoon 2 realizes they've been spotted. He/she panicks and runs, knocking the trash can over)
Grape: WATCH OUT!
CRASH
Raccoon 2: QUICK, LET'S GET OUT OF--
(Grape switches the lights on)
Raccoon 2: --here.


It's possible - although I'd wonder why the Raccoons appeared to be startled in the last panel. If it was Grape speaking earlier, I'd expect that the unfamiliar voice coming from a different direction would provoke something other than a "Hey, I'm hungry" response given the raccoons evident desire to avoid encounters ("Let's get out of here"). Now, it is possible that the Raccoon #1 (the one with the banana-peel on it's head and thus presumably the one that knocked over the trash) was over towards where Grape entered the room and ran towards the exit - knocking over the trash on the way - Raccoon #2 was talking to Grape under the impression that Grape was Raccoon #1 (and abruptly realized that he or she was not, because there would be no reason to shout "watch out!" at him because he presumably wasn't moving), so it could work either way. I do get the impression that they're all startled in the first panel of the next cartoon, but that could be taken as Grape challenging the intruders while Raccoon #2 is either startled or challenging back - but it seems unlikely, since Grape had to reach for the broom in panel three (possibly beginning in panel 2), whereas if she was intentionally confronting intruders that she'd already identified, it seems likely that she would have picked up a weapon before turning on the lights. Given that, I'd rate Grape being in on the conversation in the previous strip asa lower probability - but that's just me.

Frank wrote:
Also, it is possible that Grape was awake already, cats being most active at twilight.


Whether or not Grape was already awake is more-or-less up for grabs I think; we could presume that she was woken up (and, as usual, found it irritating), or that she was prowling around or reading or some such. There's no real indication in the strip - or at least none that I see offhand.

As for the technology... We could still go with "Aliens" or "Advanced ancient civilization" or - perhaps - this is all in the year 7000, Akkadian had a revival around 3000 (for some weird reason), and the ancient temple thus dates back to the previous high-technology civilization. Pete could be an AI, with the ability to restructure matter in small areas and four thousand years worth of eccentricities to indulge. Humans are dominant because all the other intelligent animals were genetically designed not to seriously challenge humans and were given genetic language-programming (there's certainly enough room for the data in a trivial amount of DNA; how you'd turn that into functioning neural patterns I've no idea - but if I was good enough at genetics to redesign most of the “higher” species on the planet, I think I could find a way). That would oppose Rick's statement that the animals are "natural" though - unless he wasn't going back that far, has changed his mind, or was being coy about future plot points.

For ndigit:

ndigit wrote:
Well I guess not but I'm not really talking about electricity and all that, just so we're clear. I guess mechanics, or something would be more accurate? Idk more poor choice of words on my part. But yeah when you think about magic, it's usually sparkling runes, glowing lights, mysterious incantations, while pushing a button to open a sliding door just doesn't seem so...magical. Then again, a "Sword in the Stone" thing might apply here. I think what would give us more clarity on this is who and why did they seal away Pete? Is Pete really that dangerous, or was there an ulterior reasoning for having Pete cast away? Did I just go waaay off topic?

Too many questions


I fear I must agree there. There just isn't enough information on Pete to start ruling much out yet. There must be MORE DATA... You are Number 6... We Want INFORMATION... INFORMATION...

I was taking technology as throwing stones (as per the "projectile predator" explanation for the Acheulean hand axe, from roughly 1.5 million years ago to .5 million years ago - possibly the all-time record for technological design stability) on up. Real-world tool use / technology has been observed in cetaceans, several types of birds, primates, and mustelids. It's just that the "buttons" could easily be something magical.

For Dissension:

Dissension wrote:
I wouldn't bet on 'technology' implying electronics, computers, or any other modern convenience, either. Technology can refer to a system, technique, method of organization or, yes, a machine of any level of complexity. A push-button does, therefore, imply technology.


Well lets consider that. I think that definition is over-broad:

    (1) A "Technique" is any repeatable method of accomplishing a goal. Sponges have a technique for filter-feeding, amoebas have techniques for eating, and genes have both techniques and external mechanisms for reproducing, which is why you sometimes find evolutionary biologists referring to various biological adaptions as "technologies" and treating the genes as the operators of said technologies. This is a convenient shorthand from their point of view, and is meant to stress the adaptive nature of living things and the primary importance of their genes in evolutionary theory - but it's still an abuse of the word "Technology" as far as conversation goes. Most people don't talk about the "technology" of their sense of smell.

    (2) A "Method of Organization" would include principles such as symmetry breaking - a process describing the development of laws of nature as energy levels drop, and which has been verified to be reversible (at least on the lower levels) in particle accelerator experiments. Gravity has organized the universe very nicely. Slime molds also have a method or organizing themselves under environmental stress, becoming mobile to seek out a better location. Again, most english speakers would not consider those "methods of organization" to be technologies.

    (3) A "Machine of any level of complexity" would necessarily include all Simple Machines - the lever, inclined plane, wheel and axle, screw, wedge, and pulley. Of course, simple machines are built into the biomechanics of every higher organism and occur - if only by accident - in a wide variety of inorganic structures. The bones and tendons in a vertebrate body represent a complex system of levers. Inclined planes are everywhere. Once again, this definition includes items as "technology" that most english speakers would not.

    (4) Finally, a "System" (unless the definition is otherwise restricted) is any group of interacting elements. For example, two valence-bonded atoms. Two bonded atoms, in fact, like any other elastically-bonded system, have a minimum possible energy, and thus constitute a system that will remain active indefinitely. You'll find "systems" everywhere that multiple particles are interacting.

    Unfortunately, this definition (regardless of it's source) winds up departing widely from conventional english usage of the term "technology" unless you add in a great many hidden assumptions - and so winds up impeding rather than facilitating communication. We have different words with overlapping meanings because each different term carries different secondary implications, thus allowing precise communications.

    Under this definition, a push-button does indeed imply technology - but so does any part of the universe, which makes the term fairly meaningless.

For a more conventional definition, "Technology" implies:

    (1) A system which has been intentionally created by a sapient creature or creatures. Thus systems created by accident, or through the interaction of genes and biological systems, are not "technology" in the way that most speakers of english will understand the term. Most english speakers do not consider the specialized adaptions of a birds beak a "technology"; they consider them "adaptions" (or, depending on philosophical preference, "designed"), not "technology".

    (2) A design purpose - a system intended to physically accomplish some goal. Thus, piling up some rocks to create a marker is a technology (if a fairly basic one). Idly putting one rock on top of another one with no purpose in mind is not a technology. Rocks rolling down a slope may be technology if that arrangement is intentional and designed to accomplish a goal - for example, kicking loost a rock so that it will roll down at a pursuer. Doing exactly the same thing without intent is an accidental avalanche, not technology.

    (3) The manipulation of matter which is not a part of the body as a tool. Thus, stripping the bark off a twig with your teeth is not a technology. Using the twig to then scrap goo from under your nails is a technology, if - once again - a fairly basic one. This also eliminate mathematical procedures such as sorting algorithms - even if they sometimes can be patented (legal definitions are a specialized field, otherwise you would not need specialized training to operate as a lawyer). While such algorithms are mathematical and logical constructs and are designed to accomplish particular goals, purely mathematical constructs do not even require a universe to exist in, and - arguably - are all inherent in mathematics and logic from the beginning. Thus they are discovered rather than being created. A genetically-designed organism however, remains technological; it's an expression of intentionally-designed genes.

    (4) A physically predictable operation. A fingerprint lock is technology. Even a chaotic system operated by random quantum-level inputs is statistically predictable, and so can be technology if it fulfills the other requirements. A sword which can only be pulled from the stone by the destined king is magic. There is no way to physically analyze "Destiny".

A "push-button" does not necessarily imply technology because:
    *It is not necessarily intentionally designed; a loose stone being pushed back into it's matrix acts as a "push button", but could simply be a bit that has come loose.
    *It may not operate in a physically predictable fashion. If the button will "only respond to the destined one", it may look like a familiar technology, but it's still magic.
    *It might, in fact, be a part of a natural living creature, perhaps resembling the "mimic" of classical Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.
    *The entire temple could be an illusion, transformation, or allegory patterened on what the responsible entity thinks will best suit it's purposes - and thus incorporate no actual "devices" at all.
    *It might also be an ornamental whimsy. This would imply that the "door" opened for some other (and possibly technological) reason, but the button itself still would not fit the definition of a technological device; it wouldn’t actually do anything.

Now, if the local "Magic" does operate in physically predictable ways irrespective of the intent and qualities of it's user - like much gaming "magic" - then it is simply a branch of technology, albeit one employing unfamiliar forces - and isn't "magic" as most people understand the term.

For ndigit (again):

It looks like a good place to me... I’m intending to add some pictures once I’m done with the characters and start going back through to add things in, but there’s no reason not to add character pictures here before then. You have my thanks for doing so.

Return to the Thread Index: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=199&start=0

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Character Dossiers


Last edited by Thoth on Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:23 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:56 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
*sighs*

Thoth, I am not certain such a lengthy rebuttal was warranted by my failure to append "intentionally implemented to increase efficiency" to my previous statement. I am not interested in further debate on this issue, and I am sorry for my mistake.

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Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:44 am
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Okay, cool thanks Thoth.

thoth wrote:
23) The ferrets seem to recover from sugar-intoxication quite rapidly.


I'm pretty sure that was just for a joke, but yeah that was just random. It did seem to give a little more insight into Keene though, but beyond that, it was just random.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth, about Miles, wrote:
European and Asian wolves aren't as timid, but - for example - there are currently plenty of wolves who have regular routes through Paris at night, where they scavenge trash, before retreating to the nature preserves to hide during the day.

You know, the last wolf in Paris was killed in 1880. There will be perhaps in 20 years, but there are none today.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Dissension wrote:
*sighs*

Thoth, I am not certain such a lengthy rebuttal was warranted by my failure to append "intentionally implemented to increase efficiency" to my previous statement. I am not interested in further debate on this issue, and I am sorry for my mistake.


My apologies: I didn't mean to be either condescending or annoying and I hope that I'm not leaving you with that impression: I just tend to break things down into exhaustive lists full of examples whenever I think about anything, and presumed that anyone posting to this particular thread wanted a similar breakdown. I’ll try to remember to ask whether or not that's what someone is looking for in in the future.

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Character Dossiers


Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:28 pm
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Another great dossier! Just one quip:
Thoth wrote:
16) The ferrets ... named their new pet health and wellness fun after Bino - the "Boy Bino sure is an idiot trust fund".
I shudder to think what kind of "fun" these ferrets can have in the "pet health and wellness" system, since it'll probably end with an oxygen-tank induced explosion. Please fix the typo.

And now three rather less important things I feel like I have to say anyway:
Thoth wrote:
12) Given that he's presumably seen more of them than the readers, the opnion has some weight.
Considering that Fox didn't know who Mr. Milton was, I'm not too sure of that. You are right, though, in that he's seen more than we have, since we were following Bino at the time.

Thoth wrote:
23) The ferrets seem to recover from sugar-intoxication quite rapidly.
But had Keene recovered though? I get a feeling the "invent television" part was intoxication-induced, but that would probably mean the plan had to have been thought out beforehand.

Thoth wrote:
26) Money talks. As the local landlords, the ferrets have a lot of influence, both direct and indirect.
Everyone loves going for this. Ever thought of the fact that Bill fears the ferrets simply because they're crazy? Of course, now I have to quote The Simpsons Movie
Russ Cargill wrote:
Ever try going mad without power? It's no fun, no one listens to you!
So, yeah, if they weren't powerful, there probably would be no reason to fear them.

(Sorry if the stringing between the ideas seems poorly done; I didn't sleep last night)

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Here are the dossiers for the humans in the strip, excluding Mr Milton and his Ungrateful Relatives. Given that the current arc involves them, they can wait a bit pending further information.
That limits this entry to the Sandwiches, Bill, Jake, Ryan, Jerry, the Fat PETA Guy, and the (often nameless) Minor Characters. Given that there’s not much about the humans that needs explaining - and that there's very little background on several of them - possible backstories have not been included.

The Sandwiches:

1) Mrs Sandwich first appears, having obtained batteries for Peanuts Nintendo - possibly among other errands.
2) Mrs Sandwich (or, less likely, Mr Sandwich) is startled to find the living room soaked.
Inference; The Sandwiches are used to leaving the pets on their own for a bit and usually took it for granted that their pets would behave themselves. This is a modest setback for that belief.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/06/1 ... to-an-end/

3) Mr Earl Sandwich gets his first lines, but does not yet appear.
Inference: Some pets don't have hands, otherwise plastic-flap "pet doors" probably would not exist.
Note: The Pet Doors are never mentioned or seen again. The Sandwiches probably uninstalled them, leaving Grape and Peanut to simply use the regular doors.
Inference: Mr Sandwich probably didn't check on what he was buying and/or having installed as carefully as he should have, and thus wound up with generic plastic-flap “pet doors” instead of something suited to the pets he actually owned.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/15/a-minor-flaw/

4) Mr Sandwich first appears. He's willing to point out loopholes in the leash laws.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/1 ... ll-travel/

5) Mr Sandwich notes that Grape and Peanut will need to manage their time better during their visits to the zoo (and presumably on other outings).
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/11/0 ... -literate/

6) Mr Sandwich appears again, taking Grape and Peanut to the vet for a checkup and booster shots.
Inference: Either Mr Sandwich is strong enough to barely notice Grape's two-handed tugging on her leash or it’s mostly for show and she isn’t actually putting that much effort into it.
Note: Grape either doesn’t think of unclipping her leash or doesn’t want to. This may be related to the abandonment issues shown in later strips.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/01/2 ... ough-pain/

7) Mr Sandwich is not especially impressed with Grape's histrionics. Of course, he's apparently taken her to the vet before, and is aware that she'll barely remember anything tomorrow.
Note: Presumably Peanut has been to the vet at least twice before, and Mr Sandwich knows that it hasn't noticeably harmed Peanut either.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/0 ... treatment/

8) Mr Sandwich continues to ignore Grape's dramatics.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/0 ... ompassion/

9) Mrs Sandwich likes to dress up her pets and take pictures.
Inference: Mrs Sandwich is used to feline opposition to such activities, and doesn’t take it at all seriously.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/1 ... -stitches/

10) Mrs Sandwich - and possibly many other cat owners - are willing to either take their pets to a midnight book release or to let them go on their own.
Inference: The Sandwiches are pretty indulgent. They also apparently make a good living, judging by the number of toys they’ve provided for Grape and Peanut.
Note: Human children do exist in the Housepets universe. This was probably generally assumed, but here it’s confirmed.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/03/1 ... cat-again/

11) The Sandwiches have not filled their pets in about the details of their extended family.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/08/no-excuses/

12) Mr Sandwich is something of a smart-alec.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/1 ... ternative/

13) Mrs Sandwich reassures Grape about her husband's sense of humor.
Note: The phrase "I would assume you got that from him, but then again, you're a cat" seems to imply that either pets can "inherit" personality traits from their owners or that being a "rule breaker at heart" is expected cat behavior. Most likely a version of both; pets tend to model their behavior on the owners who raise them and rulebreaking is expected cat behavior.
14) Mrs Sandwich evidently does think of Grape and Peanut as surrogate children.
Note: The fact that a normal human could easily wind up raising five or more generations of surrogate "grandchildren", "great-grandchildren", and so on, and have to make end-of-life medical decisions, and either support or prevent large numbers of such children, probably calls for some practical adjustments to the surrogate parent-surrogate child relationship. Fortunately, humans have, throughout history, demonstrated repeatedly that they can easily manage such an attitude.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/1 ... lled-milk/

15) Mr and Mrs Sandwich don't mind being visited by wolves.
Inference: The prejudice displayed towards Miles in the strips showing his first visit to the city evidently isn’t universal.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/2 ... er-danger/

16) Jake, Jerry, and Mr Sandwich appear in the background here, apparently gaping at Pete.
Inference: They’re all concerned about Zachary (or at least Mr Sandwich and Jake are willing to get up in the night and stumble around helping Jerry out) and may be acting as the core of the search operation.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/25/whoops/

17) According to the cast page, Mr. and Mrs. Sandwich moved into Babylon Gardens because they heard that the place was pet-friendly, and they’re both fond of animals. Mr. Sandwich works as an auto mechanic. According to other (and not necessarily canon) sources, they got pets because they didn’t feel ready to have children of their own yet.

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Bill:

1) Bill (Fox’s owner) first appears, with the literal "Motorcycle Bucket Seat" joke.
Inference: Bill isn’t a particularly sensitive individual, and doesn’t worry about embarrassing his pets. Personally, I’d suspect that that goes with being a policeman.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/17/lame-joke-83/

2) Bill has a MANLY chin and leans very far forward on his motorcycle.
Note: Bill really seems to enjoy traveling by motorcycle.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/03/0 ... bike-ride/

3) Bill seems to be competent as a policeman and as an investigator.
4) Bill is a motorcycle cop.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/1 ... sandpaper/

5) Bill is commendably patient with the dognapers.
Inference: Bill may well feel that this pair is so incompetent that he doesn’t need to do much. If so, he turns out to be more-or-less right.
Note: Rick states in the commentary that Jake's hot-tempered behavior, self-centeredness, and attempts to get out of the consequences are personality traits reflected in his pets, Bino and Maxwell. He also notes that Bill is unlikely to go along with such attempts entirely. Evidently Bill takes his responsibilities as a policeman seriously.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/1 ... ringwheel/

6) Bill is highly suspicious of wolves trying to live with humans, and of the garden party preparations.
Speculation: Possibly the gutted deer centerpiece tipped him off before the wolves (presumably) got rid of it.
7) Bill is, however, not willing to take preemptive action when his probable troublemakers prove to have very wealthy and influential patrons.
Inference: If the wolves hadn’t been licensed, and hadn’t obviously belonged to someone (or some group) who could easily afford a house, Bill probably would have taken action. It’s probably a good thing that the Milton Ferrets made sure all the details were covered (I'd guess by putting a lawyer on it).
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/1 ... y-officer/

8) Bill does, however, continue to keep an eye on the situation. If it does turn into trouble, he's apparently going to be ready to deal with it.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/1 ... han-human/

9) Bill is attending the party, and is quite honest about his original doubts and their cause.
Inference: Bill is used to just saying what he thinks. Given the housepets universe is full of things that can understand you, this may be very common (on the theory that there’s no point in trying to hide things) or very rare (on the theory that you can never afford an unguarded moment), depending on humanities general level of paranoia.
10) Bill likes very rare steak, and feels that anyone who cooks steak right is probably "classy".
11) Bill had apparently never thought that wolves could be "classy".
12) Bill has failed to notice that the steak apparently isn't cooked at all.
Inference: Bill is competent, but is perhaps less observant than he might be.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/10/2 ... eing-bill/

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Jake:

1) Jake (Bino and Maxwell's owner) is mentioned. He may be ashamed of Bino.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/0 ... cred-duty/

2) Jake has put a shock collar on Bino.
Inference: Either Bino misbehaves spectacularly or extremely persistently, or shock collars are considered fairly normal methods of pet discipline.
Inference: Jake is either too busy, or too indifferent, to actually discipline Bino personally. Of course, he may have tried without much success; it IS Bino we’re talking about here.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/03/1 ... -reaction/

3) Jake reacts to the phrase "I'm with PETA" with immediate violence.
Inference: Jake has probably had some personal bad experience with PETA that impairs his judgement, given that assault and battery is often good for some jail time. Even a hot temper usually calls for some personal affront to excite it.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/04/2 ... -violence/

4) Rick notes in the commentary that Jake's hot-tempered behavior, self-centeredness, and attempts to get out of the consequences are personality traits reflected in his pets.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/1 ... ringwheel/

5) Jake, Jerry, and Mr Sandwich appear in the background here, apparently gaping at Pete.
Inference: They’re all concerned about Zachary (or at least Mr Sandwich and Jake are willing to get up in the night and stumble around helping Jerry out) and may be acting as the core of the search operation.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/25/whoops/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jerry:

Jerry is quite used to Tiger's misbehavior.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/0 ... bad-bunny/

Jerry is quite concerned about Zachary, and presumably about his other pets.
Jerry seems to consider the pets adult associates, rather than surrogate children.
Jerry's pets do still seem to look to him to lead them though.
Inference: Jerry may not see the pets as “Kids”, but he certainly seems to see them as dependent subordinates.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/11/key-phrase/

Jake, Jerry, and Mr Sandwich appear in the background here, apparently gaping at Pete.
Inference: They’re all concerned about Zachary (or at least Mr Sandwich and Jake are willing to get up in the night and stumble around helping Jerry out) and may be acting as the core of the search operation.
Note: It would be interesting to know what they think of what they’ve seen. I doubt that the pets have kept it entirely secret either.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/25/whoops/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ryan:

1) Ryan (Fido's owner) first appears.
Note: Ryan appears to be pleased at Fido’s graduation from the police academy and doesn’t mind his pet working as a police dog. How this works is never explained: presumably the police cover the potential medical bills, uniforms, and so on, but whether Ryan or Fido are compensated for Fido’s services remains unknown.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/0 ... cred-duty/

3) Ryan apparently finds the things pets get up to amusing.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/0 ... -constant/

4) Ryan appears with his gaming group. They're playing D&D.
Inference: Judging by the conversation, this is a regular event.
Note: At least some of the gamers like to attempt rules exploits.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/02/1 ... mebreaker/

5) Per the cast page, Ryan Byron just thinks that the antics of the pets are really amusing - and beyond that, it’s not a human matter, so who cares? Ryan is an R&D expert for a software firm.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The fat PETA guy: (For convenience, referred to henceforth as “FPETA”)

1) FPETA first appears, and immediately demonstrates that his belief-system is quite disconnected from reality.
Note: He continues to demonstrate that from this point on.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/04/2 ... ery-naive/

2) FPETA expresses his disdain for legal methods and gets ready for a dognapping.
Inference: FPETA is quite incompetent. At a bare minimum, before starting on a plan - especially a criminal plan when you’ve already attracted notice in the area - any normal person would want to know what they were trying to do.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/0 ... n-strikes/

3) FPETA demonstrates the ability to drag Joel around (not that this appears to be hard) but a reluctance to confront any pets he judges potentially troublesome.
4) FPETA continues to make decisions based on logical fallacies. Little or no valid reasoning appears to be involved.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/0 ... character/

5) FPETA attempts to convince Fox of the advantages of being feral, but has enough connection to reality to realize that Fox does not agree - although he probably considers Fox brainwashed.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/0 ... the-world/

6) FPETA demonstrates that his convictions apply only on the abstract level, not to any one animal in particular, by attempting to silence or smother Fox.
Note: Abstract causes tend to be extremely treacherous: they are usually so vague and ill-defined that they can be used to justify almost anything.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/1 ... sandpaper/

7) FPETA is getting arrested in the background.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... at-driver/

8) FPETA claims to have a glandular condition. A Joel and a policeman both seem to find this claim amusing.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... -year-one/

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Minor Humans:

1) A zookeeper appears here. He’s quite polite to the patrons, even if they are animals.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/2 ... et-buffet/

1) A petstore clerk appears here.
2) He is not allowed to sell catnip to pets.
Inference: Human-style intoxicants, anise, and a variety of other animal-specific intoxicants probably fall under this ban as well - although at least the animal-only items are apparently freely available to humans who want to give them to animals.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/1 ... things-up/

1) Aunt Claire is mentioned.
Inference: Aunt Claire is somewhat presumptuous: giving someone a new pet is assuming a lot in the real world, and a Housepets pet is an even more complicated commitment.
Note: Aunt Claire is mentioned again later in connection with Pap.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

1) A male vet appears.
2) Despite Grape's childhood impressions, it seems unlikely that he is actually an eldritch abomination. It cannot, however, be ruled out.
3) Over the next several strips, it's demonstrated that his bedside manner isn't that hot.
Inference: he’s been like that for some time, and it’s probably why Grape has poor (if partial) memories of him. Of course, it could also mean that he IS an eldritch abomination, and doesn’t understand mortal life very well.
Nonsensical “Strip-I’d-Like-To-See”: Eldritch Abomination Vet versus Pete / Gaspar with King in the middle trying to make sense out of it. If someone wants to try it as fan art, I will applaud.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/01/2 ... -memories/

1) A female vet appears. Her bedside manner is much superior to her male counterparts.
2) An veterinary orderly makes a brief appearance.
Inference: Some people, such as the male vet noted above, treat animals with a bare minimum of consideration, and most likely get poorer results for it. After all, if the Sandwiches asked Grape and Peanut “which vet would you like to go to next time?”, which one would be more likely to get their business?
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/01/30/hello-vet/

1) A gas station attendant attempts to enforce pet leash rules or laws.
Inference: He’s either petty, knows that the owner might watch the security tapes (presuming he's not the owner of course), or has had trouble with other animals in the past. I suspect pettiness, but other motives cannot be ruled out.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/1 ... ternative/

1) Uncle Reuben and what are apparently his five children (of various sizes) appear here.
Inference: Reuben's cats and Rufus sleep in the barn to avoid an excess of affection.
Inference: Judging by appearances and the family name, Uncle Reuben is Mr Sandwiches brother. It could be some more complicated and distant relationship of course, but there’s no evidence of that.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/0 ... ill-exist/

1) An unidentified policeman appears here.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... -year-one/

1) The crazed hermit who speaks in limericks is seen for the first time here, although he was referenced in the earlier dream-sequence.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/1 ... -favorite/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Responses:

For Foldo:

The note on wolves in Paris was based on a documentary from a few years back which investigated the wildlife of Paris (primarily smaller species) and found a few wolves which regularly visited from the forested areas nearby to scavenge in the early morning hours. Given that there are several poorly fenced nature preserves within five miles of Paris, that slightly more than a quarter of France is forested, and that more than 7% of France consists of nature preserves, that seemed environmentally plausible. Wolves were believed exterminated in France at some point between from 1927 and 1939 (depending on the source consulted), however they have definitely been re-establishing themselves (primarily from Italy) since the late 1980's or early 1990's. (It is also possible that relict populations persisted during the intervening fifty to sixty years since there are plenty of feral dogs to conceal their presence). The specific animals in that documentary may since have proven to be transients, wolf-dog hybrids, or misidentified dogs, or they may have been eliminated, but I haven't run across any followup information. Ergo, this is the best data I currently have available. Yours may well be more current - after all, for all I know you live in Paris - but I can only work with what I've got.

Response Note: I feel that it’s rude not to make responses as complete as possible - but I do have a tendency to over-analyze everything (hence this thread). It’s been requested that I hold back on that - so this bit will be the last unrequested analysis-response. If someone wants to know the reasoning behind something, or wants something they’ve written either analyzed or included in an analysis, please ask for that specifically so I can avoid upsetting anyone (this is for fun after all). Otherwise, if you’ve spotted a typo, have information I missed, have a new inference, or have a new hypothesis, there will be thanks.

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Character Dossiers


Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:39 pm
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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Thoth wrote:
For Foldo:

The note on wolves in Paris was based on a documentary from a few years back which investigated the wildlife of Paris (primarily smaller species) and found a few wolves which regularly visited from the forested areas nearby to scavenge in the early morning hours. Given that there are several poorly fenced nature preserves within five miles of Paris, that slightly more than a quarter of France is forested, and that more than 7% of France consists of nature preserves, that seemed environmentally plausible. Wolves were believed exterminated in France at some point between from 1927 and 1939 (depending on the source consulted), however they have definitely been re-establishing themselves (primarily from Italy) since the late 1980's or early 1990's. (It is also possible that relict populations persisted during the intervening fifty to sixty years since there are plenty of feral dogs to conceal their presence). The specific animals in that documentary may since have proven to be transients, wolf-dog hybrids, or misidentified dogs, or they may have been eliminated, but I haven't run across any followup information. Ergo, this is the best data I currently have available. Yours may well be more current - after all, for all I know you live in Paris - but I can only work with what I've got.

Foldo is not in Paris proper, but not far from, so I'm inclined to trust their information.

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Post Re: Character Dossiers
Here are the dossiers for the Minor Animal Characters - Karl-Lenin Faust and Squeak, the Zoo Animals, the Mr Bigglesworth’s, the Farm Animals, the K-9 Unit, Joel’s Pets, and the Random Animals. Once again, there really isn’t enough information on most of them for backstories, and not much to explain either - so the backstories here are going to be limited to the speculative bits in the varies listings and to the cross-reference to Joel’s dossier for his pets.

The Mice - Karl-Lenin Faust and Squeak:

1) Karl-Lenin Faust appears. He is apparently a classical "socialist rabble-rouser".
Note: It would be interesting to find out where Karl-Lenin Faust picked up the rhetoric. Is there some crazed revolutionary raising mouse-agitators in his closet and releasing them into the world? Did Karl-Lenin (a name that probably wasn’t provided by his parents - unless they too were would-be socialist revolutionaries) simply read the wrong section of a library? Did his parents insulate the nest with scraps from a copy of Das Kapital? Sadly, we shall probably never know.
2) At least some of the mice either feel oppressed or are willing to follow anyone who promises an improvement in their living conditions.
3) Karl-Lenin Faust does much better at making speeches than at writing.
Inference: Judging by Grape’s Fanfiction and Letters to Actors, as well as by Peanuts "Spot Superdog" scripting and letter to Santa, this may be a common limitation of animals.
4) Karl-Lenin Faust has a specialized education of sorts (whether acquired through reading or some sort of instruction) - although many of the other mice don't seem to be clear on the rhetoric.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/09/2 ... e-and-die/

5) The Mice have “discovered” fire.
Inference: The mice, and possibly the other small animal species, are VERY poorly organized; otherwise humans would need to be a great deal more accommodating lest their buildings all burn down. This might be fixed by building almost exclusively of stone and fireproof materials, but the house burning down during the Easter Egg Hunt suggests that this is not the case.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/0 ... er-of-che/

6) Mice, like many of the other animals, show spectacularly poor judgement.
Inference: The mice are not entirely familiar with the classic "bell the cat" stories.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/0 ... o-get-off/

Squeak:

1) Squeak is first mentioned. She is apparently going to move in with Joey.
Note: Pets generally don't get to pick where they live.
Inference: Squeak is a feral mouse - and is probably too small for Joey’s owners to notice.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/0 ... -for-dogs/

2) Squeak is either visiting or has moved in with Joey, and is not that fond of cheese.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

3) Squeak met Joey while he was roleplaying as a cat and has “cat friends”.
Inference: At least some cats see no reason to eat mice - at least not as long as they’re getting plenty of cat food.
Note: Overfed pets are pretty common in reality, but I can’t recall seeing any in the strip. Even Tiger doesn’t seem especially fat, despite his eating disorder. Either fat pets get mocked enough to make them exercise more, diet pet foods are a big business, something exotic is going on, or it’s an artistic preference.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/03/2 ... -unsee-it/

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The Zoo Animals:

1) Shardul the Bengal Tiger finds people reading the instructional plaques about tigers out loud annoying. It's hard to blame him.
Note: Shardul doesn't seem to be much larger than a human, although he looks a bit more solid.
Speculation: Housepets tigers - and, perhaps some of the other carnivores - may have a considerably smaller physical advantage over humans, their pets, and their prey species than they do in reality, and may well use weapons. The spear-armed Lions of the Pridelands series may be quite plausible.
Inference: Since whatever barrier there is doesn't suffice to hinder conversation - and many of the other animals appearing later don't really seem to be effectively restrained at all - it seems likely that most of the zoo animals stay there at least semi-voluntarily.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/1 ... thy-brain/

1) Tarmac and Gambit appear.
2) Chinese-speaking female river otters don't like noise while they're trying to sleep.
Inference: The animals seem to pick up the human languages of whatever region they grow up in. They may not be able to pick up new human languages with anything like the speed they pick up their first one.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/1 ... -otter-be/

1) The Zoo Kangaroos appear.
Note: The Kangaroos, and possibly the zoo animals in general, apparently feel obliged to put on a show for the visitors.
Inference: The "show" is probably semi-voluntary given the behavior of the Kangaroos and the later behavior of the wolves at the wolf pen.
Speculation: The “show” may be part of a tacit contract of sorts: guaranteed food, safety, medical care, and a comfortable lifestyle in exchange for being on display. Such an arrangement might even include some sort of "credit at the zoo shop", which would put the zoo animals in roughly the same position as circus performers and fit in with “it’s like a compulsory job”.
2) The Kangaroos have picked up a full set of Australian stereotypes.
Inference: The zoo animals may have access to television.
Speculation: Their dens may be more like apartments than they are like real zoo accommodations - which may help explain why the Foxes apparently have access to computers, televisions, and coffee-makers later on.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/2 ... p-paddock/

1) The wolves at the wolf-pen don't seem too obliged to put on a show - or at least don’t feel obliged to do so for other pets.
Note: The art style has changed since this strip, and has gone to color, so it's hard to tell - but the zoo wolves might be a different subspecies from Miles and his pack.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/2 ... he-ground/

1) Dolphins are telepathic, and are either somewhat deceptive or inclined to practical jokes.
Inference: Telepathy really isn't all that remarkable in the Housepets universe. Other psychic abilities may also exist.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/2 ... er-whales/

1) The Apes apparently have a monolith to amuse them.
Inference: The Apes - and Grape - have all seen “2001 A Space Odyssey". Either the zoo shows movies (perhaps there’s a movie night?), the apes have a television, there’s a nearby drive-through they can see, the apes sometimes sneak out of the zoo and go to the movies, or there actually is an alien monolith at the zoo.
Speculation: The apes may be subtly (or not-so-subtly) mocking their human visitors.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/2 ... rathustra/

1) The birds at the aviary have threatened to unionize.
Inference: The birds can communicate in some fashion (most likely speech, although dolphin-style telepathy is possible). This lends a whole new dimension to espionage and early communications efforts.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/10/2 ... et-buffet/

1) The zoo foxes have a communal display, a computer, and a coffee maker.
Inference: From the “snowy” jokes they either have, or are familiar with, broadcast television.
Inference: The foxes are either getting an allowance of some sort (whether in cash, credit, or toys and treats) or the zookeepers want to keep them busy. The same may apply to the other animals.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/11/0 ... -computer/

1) The snakes at the zoo know some very good tricks - and Peanut is easily manipulated.
2) Snakes don't have limbs, although they can speak perfectly well. It looks like only animals that normally have paws are anthropomorphic.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/11/0 ... e-animals/

1) Three dozen zookeepers allowed the zoo animals to participate in a multi-species scrabble tournament. Evidently they have few worries about escapes, since it’s unlikely that Grape or Peanut could offer any serious bribes.
Inference: This lends a bit more credibility to the “circus performer” theory, above.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/11/0 ... -literate/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Mr Bigglesworth’s:

1) The Mr Bigglesworth's first appear. Their owner apparently can't tell the difference between them.
Inference: The Mr Bigglesworths are all apparently Siamese or at least look like one.
Note: The Mr Bigglesworths are in luck; Siamese are one of the longest-lived housecat breeds. They are prone to kinked tails and cross eyes though.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... more-cats/

2) The Mr Bigglesworths will only be getting on copy of the new Pridelands book.
Note: It looks like the title might be "Fall of the Pridelands" from the wall poster.
Note: The Mr Bigglesworths seem to have new tags and possibly new collars; the old tags were octagons, the one shown here is a “B”.
3) The mob of fans does not react well to spoilers, whether actual or
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/03/2 ... the-drain/

4) Eleven Mr Bigglesworths appear, apparently having some sort of a meeting.
Note: That may be all of them, it matches the number on the role-call sheet.
5) One of the Mr Bigglesworths is wearing glasses.
Inference: He or she may have eye problems (his or her eyes do seem a bit askew) unless the glasses are just an attempt to look a bit different from all the others.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/0 ... l-of-them/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Farm Animals:

1) Rufus and Made-Of-Win appear.
2) Rufus is one of the few dogs with a named breed - Australian Shepard.
Note: Rufus gives the visual impression that he's fairly old. The fact that he states that his previous owner purchased the farm, then sold it (and apparently him) to Uncle Reuben s few years ago tends to support this.
Note: Judging by the comments, a number of people got the impression that Rufus was blind and might have bad teeth. As a personal observation, he does give me the impression that he’s staring past those he's talking to. This could be a habit, an indicator of poor vision, or simply an incorrect impression.
3) Rufus likes bad jokes. Made-Of-Win is less tolerant.
4) The horses don't mind being ridden.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/0 ... p-daisies/

5) Money-For-Nothing, Action Replay, and a nameless cow appear here.
6) Horses are apparently used to being told that they “look delicious".
7) Peanut did not expect the horses to be so expressive. Since at least one of the horses blames the media - "they keep portraying us as four-legged bicycles:" - evidently horses (and possibly animal in general) rarely get speaking roles in movies or on television.
8) The cow doesn't pay much attention to Grape's taunt that "Hey I'm gonna eat your innards". From the alt text it's a mixture of indifference and obliviousness.
Speculation: Cows may not be too bright, but this may also imply a tacit bargain. Prey species tend to wind up being killed and eaten regardless - and so getting to live in a barn with plenty to eat, a calm and peaceful lifestyle, protection from predators, basic medical care, and a painless death, may be considered a step up from running around wild, having to watch constantly for predators, having to put up with all the other disadvantages of being feral, and then being painfully killed and eaten at some more-or-less random age.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/0 ... your-food/

9) The barn cats first appear here. Judging by the alt-text, they are intentionally teasing "that cute visiting dog" (Peanut).
10) The barn cats aren't wearing collars. Judging from Grape's earlier reaction at the gas station, this is indeed seen as being equivalent to nudity.
Inference: The Barn Cats aren’t as wrapped up in taboos, or as neurotic, as many of the pets seen so far. This may be due to them having less human interference in their lives and to growing up with feline parents and other animals, rather than being raised by humans.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/0 ... the-mouth/

11) The Barn Cats are going ahead with their slow-motion pillow fight and are involving Grape.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/1 ... s-too-far/

12) The Barn Cats apparently think that "city folk" prejudices and circumlocutions are "cute".
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/1 ... g-reasons/

13) Rufus assumes the "wide old mentor" role to give courting advice to Peanut. Apparently he either has a "simple and rustic" view of such things or was simply teasing. Having a dead chicken that handy seems a bit unlikely otherwise - although not impossible.
Note: Rufus still seems to stare past people a bit, but he doesn't really appear blind here. Possibly he’s just a bit farsighted or is subject to eyestrain.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/07/1 ... -occasion/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The K-9 Unit:

1) Sergeant Ralph appears. He's obtained a bucket of water from somewhere.
Note: The K-9 dogs use collar-mounted radios and apparently use sunglasses (in various styles) as a part of their uniforms.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/1 ... efreshing/

2) Sergeant Ralph has now produced a cup of something hot and a blanket from somewhere. Inference: Either this sort of thing is carried along as equipment (possibly in the trunk), or he's exceptionally talented.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... at-driver/

3) Kevin is another K-9 dog, apparently with either less experience, a poorer memory, or more excitability than Fido.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... -mixed-up/

4) Fido evidently outranks Kevin.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... ood-crowd/

5) There's an unidentified cream-and-brown police dog in this strip.
Note: I don’t believe he’s appeared again.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... nd-humans/

6) Sergeant Ralph and an unidentified policeman appear here.
Note: Four police dogs appear in this sequence. Since they apparently normally ride in the front seats of the police cars and probably no more than one to a motorcycle, this would imply the presence of at least four policemen unless some of the K-9 dogs are doing their own driving.
Inference: K-9 units are probably considerably more common in Housepets than in reality. It is possible that policemen are commonly partnered with K-9's rather than with human partners, and so might be expected to take “dognaping” considerably more seriously than simple theft, even if there is no major legal distinction. There might be, but the bit about “and the sentence was going to be time served” leads me to doubt it.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... -year-one/

7) Apparently a Kangaroo has somehow provoked a K-9 investigation at the library.
Inference: Fido, Kevin, and Sergeant Ralph all appear here with no sign of human handlers. It seems likely that - despite an earlier statement on the limitations of K-9 units by Fido - they are allowed to do at least some investigations on their own. There is, however, no indication of whether or not the Kangaroo in question has actually committed a crime beyond (probably) being AWOL from the local zoo and hanging around the library.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/1 ... stigation/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Joel’s Pets:

1) Joel's pets - a cat, a dog, and another dog - appear in flashback. There are good views of the cat and one dog, the other dog (presuming that it is the other dog in the lower left of panel five) is obscured.
Inference: Even if nothing unpleasant happened to some pets that had apparently kidnaped a human child, Joel’s pets would probably be pretty old by now. They appear adult in Joel's memory (making them four or so at a minimum) while Joel appears to be quite young - being about the same size or smaller - and he now appears to be in his twenties (admittedly, only a guess). Further discussions on Joel's pets can be found under the entry for Joel.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/05/2 ... nd-humans/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Random Animals:

1) Some outdoor “neighbor cats” appear. Evidently some people tend to keep their pets outside.
Inference: Many of the pets don't have that much to do.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/07/0 ... -outdoors/

2) There are a bunch of "Neighbor Dogs". They reappear in the background many times, but - so far at least - without much impact on the story.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/08/2 ... yal-order/

1) Fox's cousin in Kansas appears.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2008/12/2 ... s-edition/

1) Pap the Puppy appears.
2) Pap, despite his age, is rather mouthy and teases Tiger about his name.
Note: Pap has not appeared again yet. Hopefully Tiger didn't really manage to get rid of him.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/0 ... -children/

1) A Cat Waitress appears.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/08/1 ... kill-cafe/

1) "Joey's Creepy Friends" first appear here, playing D&D.
2) Judging by the implied game, they're probably adolescents themselves; older individuals will have more sense than to intentionally fail saving throws when they have such limited information.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/06/19/fast-learner/

3) At least one of "Joey's Creepy Friends" likes anime, and is snobbish about watching it with subtitles rather than dubbed.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/2 ... -subtlety/

1) Here we have a reference to what is apparently a Kangaroo which has somehow provoked a K-9 investigation at the library.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/09/1 ... stigation/

1) An assortment of forest animals appear here.
2) They seem quite pleased with Zachary's opening of the "mysterious ancient temple".
Inference: Given the number of small animals to be found per acre in wooded and grassland areas, this is a very small group. They’re probably just some of the Raccoon’s personal friends.
http://www.housepetscomic.com/2009/11/1 ... done-that/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Responses:

For Frank:

Frank wrote:
I shudder to think what kind of "fun" these ferrets can have in the "pet health and wellness" system, since it'll probably end with an oxygen-tank induced explosion. Please fix the typo.


Ah, typos to be fixed. Thanks for mentioning it.

Frank wrote:
Considering that Fox didn't know who Mr. Milton was, I'm not too sure of that. You are right, though, in that he's seen more than we have, since we were following Bino at the time.


Yep. That's why “Some” weight. I’m not saying how much, that's up to how much you trust Fox's judgement.

Frank wrote:
So, yeah, if they weren't powerful, there probably would be no reason to fear them.


I suspect that Money and Influence likely equates to power. My gerbils were crazy, but never scary.

For Ebly:

Foldo probably does have better information then, thank you. Another item to go on the update list.

Next up: probably Henry Milton and the Ungrateful Relatives, because there isn’t anyone else left except “Sir Not Appearing In This Comic”.

Return to the Thread Index: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=199&start=0

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Last edited by Thoth on Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:49 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:20 am
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