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Between Failures makes various references to contemporary and late-20th century pop culture. Most of these clearly draw on the comic author's own childhood and early 20's (noting that Jackie was born in the 1970's).

Assuming that the webcomic's own timeline started in 2007, the characters were mostly born in the mid-1980's (noting that they are mostly their early to mid-20's). Coincidently, this means they are around the age of Errant, the Lead Editor for this Wiki... although he continues to age in real-time, not comic-time!

In any case, many pop-culture references are 'retro' in the context they are used. Many references relate to media older than the characters themselves, or that would have been released when they were only kids.

Video Gaming references

Many games are referred to in the comic. In many cases, these are Nintendo titles (often Jackie's own favourites), although some characters clearly own modern systems, notably Thomas' XBox[1].

The following list includes most (but perhaps not all) of the gaming references in the comics:

  • In Strip 4, Thomas discusses the seventh-gen Nintendo DS and DS Lite (released in the NA region in 2004 and 2006 respectively). Ed owns and uses a Gameboy Micro - a contemporary system (from 2005) but still based on technology from the preceding console generation.
  • In Strip 5, Ed refers to playing 'Fire Emblem 2' on his Gameboy Micro, at Thomas' prior recommendation. We can reasonably assume he is referring to 'Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones' from 2004, which was the second Gameboy title in the series to receive a NA release for GameBoy.
  • Also in Strip 5, Thomas mentions numerous DS games including Tetris and Metroid Pinball. He also generically mentions Pokemon, which is odd - the comic dates from 23rd March 2007, a month before the NA release of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Assuming Thomas didn't possess a Japanese import, we can assume Jackie may have been looking forward to the upcoming release when he penned the comic. Alternatively, Thomas may have been referring to the third-generation Pokemon games compatible with Ed's Micro.
  • In Strip 27, Thomas jokingly tries to order the 'new Mega Man game'. He notes that they have been released about "every two weeks since I was, like, ten." While he might exaggerate slightly, we know he was born around 1981. There was a Mega Man release of some sort every year between 1991 and 2007.
  • Strip 31 alludes to the Mario series, and specifically to Thomas' theory regarding Princess Peach (noting she is one of very few humans in the Mushroom Kingdom).
  • Following the previous Strip, Strip 32 mentions 'Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time' (which was released November 2005 in NA).
  • Strip 33 follows the preceding pair, with Thomas wondering where the villains Wario and Waluigi come from.
  • Strip 36 continues Thomas' run of Mario theories, referencing '[Super] Mario Land 2': 6 Golden Coins', specifically Mario and Wario's backstory. The title was released in NA for the original GameBoy in 1992 (when Thomas would have been around 11 years old).
  • The title of Strip 81 ('Pheonix Wrong') is a spoof of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance / DS game 'Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney' (released for DS in NA in 2005). The strip itself focuses on Nina making a particularly unconvincing argument, in contrast to the game's leading character, Pheonix Wright.
  • The title of Strip 114 is taken from the awkward English translation used for the NA release of the Japanese arcade game 'Zero Wing' (1989). Unusually for Jackie, this title did not receive a release by Nintendo, but was ported from its original arcade version for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive.
  • In Strip 115, John uses the 'cockbite' insult commonly used between characters of the Halo-derived web series 'Red vs. Blue' (2003 onwards). The insult is, in turn, a subtle play on the name of the company that make the series (Rooster Teeth). Lastly, the title of the strip ('Heelturn') references the common trope of a 'good guy' suddenly betraying his team.
  • Strip 121 features a customer considering buying a 'Spawn' game from Thomas, a choice he clearly does not recommend. Based on the 2007 start-date of the comic, it seems most likely that the game in question is a pre-owned 'Spawn: Armageddon' (which received a cross-platform release in NA November 2003, receiving negative / mediocre reviews).
  • In Strip 183 (and the subsequent strips), Thomas and John play a networked game of Mario Kart on their DS handhelds. The tile was released in NA during November 2015.
  • During Strip 233, Ed notes that 'Cloak & Dagger' was an Atari arcade game. He's correct - it was released in NA during March 1984. Unfortunately, she's asking about the (somewhat) related film of the same year...
  • The title and one of Carol's lines in Strip 239 reference 'Tony Hawk's American Wasteland' (which was released on multiple platforms in October 2005). She tells Thomas not to "pad his part", referring to character Ben Whofleck (who is, in turn, a parody of Ben Affleck). In the comments section, Jackie refers to the game as being one of his favourites ever.
  • In Strip 298, Thomas gives Ed his old Nintendo DS. Thomas' replacement DS is green, and therefore unique to the comic, as no green edition of the original DS was released[2]. Although the susbsequent DSi did have a green edition, this wasn't released anywhere until 2009.
  • The comments under Strip 339 (but not the strip itself) references 'Mega Man 9'. Although this Wiki doesn't always note out-of-strip commentary, the 2008 release of Mega Man 9 is ironic considering the prior content of Strip 27.

Tabletop Gaming / Roleplaying References

[Pending]

Film References

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  • The title of Strip 6 appears to be a play on Die Hard 2: Die Harder(1990).
  • In Strip 10, Carol references Ed's appearance closely matching that of Harry Potter. Noting the visual references, it is most-likely she's comparing him with Harry's appearance as depicted in the Warner Bros. Harry Potter film series.
  • At the start of Strip 23, Thomas jokes about Eddie Murphy playing "...every shitty character in his movies". He is probably referring to 'The Nutty Professor' (1996) and/or 'Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps' (2000). However, Murphy also appeared (and in some cases co-wrote) multiple characters in 'Coming to America' (1988), 'Vampire in Brooklyn' (1995) and 'Bowfinger' (1999), all prior to the comic's start in 2007. The strip's title refers to a character in 'Beverly Hills Cop II' (1987), where Murphy played only a single character.
  • In Strip 24, Thomas suggests to John they go and see Ghost Rider (starring Nicholas Cage). The movie was released in NA on 16 February 2007, and would therefore quite likely still have been in some theatres on 19 March (when the comic starts). It had probably closed at most by the date of this stip though (15 April 2007), suggesting Jackie endeavours to maintain the slower timeline of the comic.
  • Strip 24 also makes clear that Thomas much dislikes the films produced by and/or starring the Wayans Brothers. Based on the comic starting in 2007, we can assume he and John went to see 'Little Man' (2006), which was poorly reviewed and won multiple Golden Raspberry awards.
  • The title of Strip 29 is most likely a play on the critically-panned 'Breakin' 2: Electric Boogallo' (1984).
  • Strip 30 makes another play on the title of 'Die Hard 2: Die Harder' (1990), albeit the comic the third of a sequence, not the second.
  • In Strip 37, John's grab for Thomas is accompanied by the visual sound effect "Grabzilla!" The title of the strip is also 'The Claw.' Both are generic references to the Godzilla franchise and/or Kaiju in general.
  • Strip 48 sees the start of the 'Thunderdome' sequence, where Thomas and John compete for Jessie's phone number. This refers to the eponymous 'Thunderdome', a post-apocalyptic gladiatorial combat arena in the film 'Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome' (1985, also known as Mad Max 3). Conflicts between individuals or with the rulers of 'Bartertown' town are settled by fights to the death. A clip of the movie can be seen here. From her response, it seems Jess has never seen the film (which would have come out shortly before she was born).
  • The title of Strip 52 (and style of attack depicted for Thomas' Battle Beast) references the (awful) martial arts movie 'Gymkata' (1985).
  • During Strip 53, Thomas declares that he and John won't kill each other until they can find a lava planet for their final battle. This is likely a reference to 'Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith' (2005), where Obi-Wan and Anakin do battle on the volcanic planet Mustafar(although this would not, in fact, be their final battle).
  • In Strip 60, Thomas' rhetorically asks the (absent) John whether he "... ever danced with the Devil, in the pale moonlight?" This is a direct quote from the Joker's line in the 1989 film 'Batman' (the relevant clip of which can be seen here).
  • The titles and content of Strips 61, 62 and 63 directly parodies a scene from 'Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome' (1985). Thomas cuts power to the Store's lighting (imposing an embargo), thus forcing John to announce on the PA that "Thomas Blackwell runs Bartertown" to have power restored. A clip from the movie can be seen here.
  • The tile of Strip 94 ('Emo Snape') and one of the background characters featured has a striking physical similarity to Severus Snape as depicted in the Harry Potter films.
  • The title of Strip 96 ('Kakarot') is a reference to a Power-Up technique used by the character Broly in two Dragon Ball Z movies - 'The Legendary Super Saiyan' (1993) and 'Second Coming' (1994). Thomas' entry into the strip demonstrates a similar level of intensity to Broly's power.
  • Jo's main line in Strip 110 is a quote taken from 'Mr. Deeds' (2002), originally spoken by the Butler Emilio Lopez. A clip with the line in can be seen here.
  • In Strip 111, Ed challenges Jo to quote from the spoof superhero comedy 'Mystery Men' (1999). She opts for a line from The Sphinx: "We are Number One. All other are Number Two, or lower".
  • Strip 112 features three more quotations by Brooksie, taken from the horror comedy 'Army of Darkness' (1992), post-apocalyptic sci-fi film 'Zardoz' (1974) and British fantasy film 'Time Bandits' (1981). The title of the strip is also a part of a line spoken by Ash in 'Army of Darkness', as seen here.
  • Finishing out a run of three strips, Strip 113 see Ed challenge Jo to quote from the cross-genre cult-hit 'The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension' (1984) - which she duly does. The strip's title ('From the Ashes') may be a play on Ed's failure to defeat Jo, and to the line she quotes for Ash as part of the preceding strip.
  • The title of Strip 140 (and one of Ed's lines in it) references the murder of the character Luca Brasi in American Mob movie 'The Godfather' (1972). The Mob were generally believed to dispose of bodies in local rivers, often weighing them down. A clip can be seen here.
  • In Strip 141, Ed tries again to challenge Brooksie's ability to quote films. He tries post-apocalyptic comedy 'Six-String Samurai' (1998). After replying with "How much further to Vegas, comrade?", she later quotes Yoda from 'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' (1980). Ed must "Do, or do not. There is no try."
  • The title of Strip 144 appears to be a reference to 'Men of Honor' (2000). In the film, the two key protagonists start off opposed, but end up working together for a common cause (a seeming parallel with John and Thomas' relationship).
  • The title of Strip 179 ('End of Line') and Thomas' own last line are likely references to the closing comment always made by the Master Computer Program (or MCP) in the 1982 sci-fi film TRON.
  • The title and content of Strip 190 references the actor Jeff Goldblum's lines in both 'Jurassic Park' (1993) and 'Independence Day' (1996) (with the latter being a nod to the former). A clip of each can be seen here.
  • The title of Strip 207 ('Windtalkers') and Thomas' comments about coded messages refer to the 2002 film of the same name. The film explores the contribution of the Navajo codetalkers to the US war effort in the Pacific theatre of WWII.
  • The title of Strip 210 ('Spielbergian') seems to be a simple reference to the director Steven Spielberg.
  • The title of Strip 219 ('For Your Ears Only') is a play on the title of the twelfth James Bond film, 'For Your Eyes Only' (1981).
  • One of the lines in Strip 221 (and the strip's title) refer directly to the 2000 teen comedy movie 'Bring it On'.
  • The title of Strip 227 ('Your Density') refers to a scripted mis-speak by George McFly in the sci-fi comedy 'Back to the Future' (1985). Jackie confirmed the reference in the strip's comments section. A clip of the line can be seen here.
  • In Strip 231, Ed initially challenges Brooksie to quote from the 2000 martial arts film 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'. He retracts the challenge when she asks him if he means the subtitles or original Mandarin.
  • Additionally, the title of Strip 231 may refer to the 2003 rom-com 'Lost in Translation'.
  • In Strip 232, Ed asks Jo to quote from the 1995 coming-of-age comedy / drama 'Empire Records'. She first quote Lucas' line "I do not regret the things I have done, but those I did not do", then Mark's "We mustn't dwell... no, not today. We CAN'T. Not on Rex Manning day."
  • In Strip 233, Jo retaliates by suggesting Ed quote from the spy film 'Cloak & Dagger' (1984). Given that he cannot, she says he must call her 'Lady Ace' in future (referencing the radio callsign of a young female character in the film, as seen here).
  • The title and content of Strip 246 seem to refer to the 1983 martial arts film 'Shaolin and Wu Tang'. Jackie notes in the comments that the film has had a significant effect on our (i.e. American) culture, presumably referring to the musical group 'Wu Tang Clan', among others.
  • The title and Jo's final line in Strip 252 refer to the 1984 space opera 'The Last Starfighter' (as noted by Jackie). Specifically, the reference is to the voice-over line by Centauri when Alex plays the eponymous video game: "Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada."
  • The title of Strip 258 refers to the 1995 comedy 'Tommy Boy'. The line is spoken by Thomas (played by Chris Farley) to Richard (played by David Spade), as can be seen here.
  • The title of Strip 327 references the Jedi 'Mind Trick', as seen in numerous Star Wars movies (initially, and most famously, in 'Episode IV: A New Hope' (1977), as seen here.
  • Reggie's final line in Strip 328 refers to a "...single tear rolling down [his] cheek". This is pretty much a standard trope / sarcastic reasons. Jackie refers to this in his comments, noting that his favourite use of a similar line occurs in the 1995 post-apocalyptic drama 'Waterworld'. A clip with the line can be seen here.
  • The title of Strip 335 ('The Three Amigos') refers to the 1986 western comedy Three Amigos, which is set in Mexico. This, and Carol's use of Spanish in the strip directly references Mike's background.
  • The title and content of Strip 338 reference a line from the 1993 western 'Tombstone', a clip of which can seen here. Carol's line that she might "...call down the thunder..." is also from the same film, as seen here.
  • The title and content of Strip 340 refer to characters in various 'Star Wars' films.

TV Show References

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  • In Strip 12, Carol tells Ed that "...it was lovely having you on the show. Thanks for playing, but you are the weakest Lincoln." This is likely a reference to the US-adaption of the British game show 'The Weakest Link', which features a similar catchphrase.
  • During Strip 17, Carol makes a joke about the store being "Steve Irwin dead", leading to a mild rebuke from Nina. Steve Irwin was an Australian zookeeper and naturalist who was killed by a Stingray during filming on 4 September 2006, about six months before the start of the comic.
  • In Strip 26, Thomas gives John a Vulcan salute, made famous by the 1960's TV series Star Trek.
  • As part of Strip 49, John refers to the 'Shadow Proclamation', a series of conventions and treaties enforced by the 'Outer Space Police' in Doctor Who (the TV series of which run 1963 onward). Although most references to the Shadow Proclamation are from 2008 or later, the Ninth Doctor mentions it in his first episode ('Rose') in 2005. Other references may also be known across the Doctor Who fandom.
  • In Strip 78, Carol gets Ed and Nina fetch ice cream, saying "This I Command". She is quoting the catchphrase of Serpantor from the 1980's 'G.I.Joe' comics / animated series. Examples of the catchphrase can be seen in clips from the series, here.
  • The title of Strip 95 ('I love you I would date with you') is a quote taken from the manga / animated series 'Ranma 1/2' (1989). Kuno uses this line in the (somewhat poorly translated) English-dub of the series, during a nightmare Ranma has.
  • Thomas' final line in Strip 102 appears to be a direct quote of the character Jesús Christo, from the animated North American series 'Clone High' (2002). A clip of the relevant episode ('A.D.D: The Last D is for Disorder') can be seen here.
  • The title of Strip 123 (and Jo's line within it) could be a reference to the 1982 adult / pornographic film 'I Like to Watch'. Initially, Jo's character makes this seem less likely, but based on her character development arc she could well have seen the movie.
  • In Strip 130, Ed suggests Thomas' hair looks like that of Fry, the dysfunctional main protagonist of the 'Futurama' animated TV series by Matt Groening (which ran from 1999 - 2013).
  • In Strip 136, Ed refers to wanting to "...interfere with Nina sexually". Whilst slightly ominous out of context, it seems probable he's paraphrasing a line by Rimmer, a character in the Britsih sci-fi sitcom 'Red Dwarf' (1988 to 1999, 2009, ongoing as of 2012).
  • The title of Strip 165 (and one of Mike's lines) appear to be a reference to the 1984 to 1986 kid's animated TV series 'Rainbow Brite'. The reference is likely to the generally optimistic, positive-spin outlook of the characters.
  • Strips 168 mentions action figures associated with both the Transformers and Power Rangers TV series. The strip title refers to the 'Green Ranger'. Combined with Thomas' stipulation in the strip, this reference appears to be to the high expense of collectables for that Ranger, and the difficulty of collecting such a large range in general.
  • In Strip 189, one of Mike's lines references the American animated kid's TV series 'Invader Zim' (which originally ran from 2001 to 2002, with some unaired episodes being shown in 2006). Mike has a "MIGHTY NEED" to escape the store... while a clip of Zim can be seen here.
  • Jo's key line in Strip 218 clearly refers to the 'How Not to be Seen' sketch from the excellent 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' (Season 2, Scene 11, first broadcast late 1970). The sketch can be seen in full here. Surprisingly, Jo doesn't explode, (nor is the store flattened by a nuclear weapon).
  • The title of Strip 240 refers back to Strip 218.
  • In the comments section of Strip 249, Jackie specifically mentions it's title and Jo's line are references to the Futurama episode 'The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz' (as first aired 4 March 2001). Jo's line refers to a rule in the Captains' Handbook.
  • The title of Strip 254 ('To Serve Man') is that of a 1962 'Twilight Zone' episode (albeit Jackie doesn't particularly like the series).
  • In Strip 273, John's lines again reference the kid's TV series 'Invader Zim' (originally screened 2001 to 2002). The character Gir speaks the same line in the Season 1 episode 'Germs', a separate clip of which can be seen here.
  • Carol's last line in Strip 300 refers to the tile of the 29th Peanuts animated TV Special 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown' (1985). The special was in turn derived from the earlier 1967 musical of the same title.
  • The title to Strip 304 refers to the 'Big American Party' sketch in the adult animated sitcom 'Clerks: The Animated Series' (which can be seen here). The show had an unsuccessful run with ABC, but was subsequently given a successful DVD launch in 2001. It was based on the original, live-action 1994 comedy 'Clerks' by Kevin Smith.
  • One of Nina's lines in Strip 311 refers to gameplay from the US panel game show 'Hollywood Squares', which ran from 1966 to 1989, with a short reboot from 1998 to 2004.
  • In Strip 312, Jo speaks in the style of Ned Flanders from the long-running animated sitcom 'The Simpsons'.
  • The title of Strip 324 refers to the extremely long-running soap opera 'Days of our Lives', which was first broadcast in 1965 and has now aired well over 13,000 episodes.
  • Jo's last line and the title of Strip 331 ('By the Power of Greyskull') refer to a commonly-used quotation, originally arising from the 'He-Man and the Master of the Universe' animated series (which originally ran from 1983 to 1985). A clip of the line can be seen here. From Jackie's comment, he may also have seen it in the later reboot which ran from 2002 to 2004.
  • In the comments on Strip 332, Jackie refers to commentaries on a Futurama DVD.
  • Judging by the comments under Strip 334, its title may be an oblique reference to the supernatural teen drama series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', which originally ran from 1997 to 2003.
  • The title ('Would you be Mine?') and most of Thomas' lines in Strip 339 refer to the opening theme to educational kids TVseries 'Mister Roger's Neighbourhood'. The series ran from 1968 to 2001. Its opening theme can be viewed here.

Music References

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  • In Strip 29, Jessie is after the new Justin Timberlake album. Assuming the comic's start date to be 2007, it seems likely she is after FutureSex/LoveSounds.
  • Later in the same strip, Jessie refers to Timberlake as "...a younger, whiter Michael Jackson." She later modifies this to "...younger, at any rate", referencing Jackson's vitiation and possible skin whitening.
  • Strip 41 refers back to the above two strips.
  • In Strip 42, we see a (fake) Justin Timberlake album cover, 'Dancin' in Silly Hats!' It seems likely that Jackie might share Ed's dislike of the artist (or is at least willing to make fun of his mid-2000's style for a gag).
  • The same strip shows Ed buying CD (or Compact Disk). Depending on your age and when you are reading this Wiki, this might be a throw-back reference to the days of actual, physical media...
  • The title of Strip 116 is likely a reference to Kenny Loggins' classic film soundtrack 'Danger Zone', as played over the second-of of the introductory credits of the famous naval aviation movie 'Top Gun' (1986). A clip with the track can be viewed here.
  • The title of Strip 124 ('Silence is Golden') is in fairly common usage, but originally relates to the 1964 rock song of the same name by Four Seasons.
  • The title of Strip 149 is that of Jimi Hendrix's 'All Along the Watchtower', included on his 1967 album 'John Wesley Harding'. The track can be heard here.
  • The title of Strip 184 closely matches that of 'Someone Else's Dream', written by country songwriters Trey Bruce and Craig Wiseman, then recorded by Faith Hill in 1996.
  • In Strip 203, Thomas directly alludes to Kurt Cobain's suicide-by-gunshot (in 1994). He may not be aware that Cobain used a shotgun, not a handgun. Prior to his death, Cobain had been struggling with drug mis-use. Following on from Nivarna's European tour earlier in the year, he had also recently been suffering from bronchitis and severe laryngitis. Both would have had serious implications for his singing.
  • Also in Strip 203, Thomas suggests a CD by Mexican-American rapper Li'l Rob, in place of the other (unnamed) album.
  • The title of Strip 277 is the first line from Elton John's song 'El Dorado', from the 2000 animated musical 'The Road to El Dorado'. Carol directly references the track in the comic's text. The song (with its lyrics) can be found here.
  • The title of Strip 292 may refer to the theme song 'Happy Trails' by Dale Evans, from 'The Roy Rodgers Show' (which ran from 1944 to 1955).
  • Jackie notes that the title to Strip 301 ('This is Love') is from a George Harrison song on his final solo, studio album Cloud 9 (1987).
  • In his comments at the end of Strip 305 (and thus, the first comic arc), Jackie suggests the end credits for the arc would feature the 2000 track 'Reeling', from the album 'Break' by the Natalie Wattre Band (which you can listen to here).
  • With regard to the hypothetical closing credits, Jackie also suggests Semisonic's 'Closing Time' from 1998 (the video for which can be seen here), the lyrics to which mesh well with the arc. Lastly, he suggests 'Kill the Lights' by Canadain band 'The Birthday Massacre', which can be heard here.
  • The title of Strip 311 is a reference to a track off Tangerine Dream's album 'Legend', a soundtrack for the 1985 film of the same name. The track can be heard here.
  • The title of Strip 330 ('Through the Fire and [the Flames]') appears to be a reference to a track by English Power Metal band DragonForce, taken from their 2006 album 'Inhuman Rampage'. The track (with its lyrics) can be found here.

Comic Book / Webcomic References

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  • In Strip 13, Thomas likens Ed and himself to the DC Comics' characters Green Arrow (aka Oliver Queen) and Green Lantern (aka Hal Jordan), also suggesting Green Arrow may have had communist leanings. Carol's subsequent threat of death by lava may be a reference to Green Lantern Volume 3, Comic 94 from 1998 (in which case Carol is suggesting her role be that of Pele).
  • In Strip 58, Thomas refers to the idea of dating Jessie (who looks very, very similar to his friend ED) as giving him the 'Jibblies'. This reference is to an emotion experienced by the character Strong Bad in the ongoing 'Homestar Runner' series of webcomics.
  • In Strip 78, Carol issues an instruction to fetch ice cream, saying "This I Command". She is quoting the catchphrase of Serpantor from the 1980's 'G.I.Joe' comics / animated series.
  • The bottom left corner of Strip 100 includes a small dedication to comicbook artist Mike Wieringo, who died 12 August 2007 (three days before the strip was published). Mike was best known for his work on DC Comics' 'The Flash' and Marvel Comics' 'Fantastic Four'.
  • The title and one of John's lines of Strip 158 refer to the sixth-sense or 'Spider-sense possessed by Marvel Comics' character Spider-Man. The character was originally seen the 'Amazing Fantasy' comic anthology (#15, August 1962) and subsequently in numerous series starting with 'The Amazing Spider-Man' (1963 onwards).
  • Brooksie's main line in Strip 220 appears to be another reference to 'Homestar Runner', and specifically Stinkoman's tendency to seek challenges.

Literary References

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  • The title and content of Strip 9 is a direct homage towards Sun-Tze's treatise 'The Art of War' (dating from the 6th or 5th-century BC). The treatise emphasised the importance of aspects in warfare, including the psychological.
  • In Strip 10, Carol references Ed's appearance closely matching that of J K Rowling's character Harry Potter. Although it is primarily a visual reference, it is possible Carol may have read the Harry Potter books instead of (or as well as) seeing the films.
  • At the start of Strip 13, Carol makes brief reference to "the Fellowship" - presumably, the 'Fellowship of the Ring' (from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, originally published in 1954). She could also be making a joke about Ed's height.
  • In the same panel of Strip 13, Carol tells thee the guys to "...quit thee from my sight". This is the alternative form of a line spoken in Shakespeare's Macbeth (Act 3, Scene 4). Her quoting the line fits with the eventual revelation that she has a degree in Performing Arts.
  • The title of Strip 40 (Oscar Wilde) and its content both allude to the 19th-century Irish poet and playwright of the same name. He is widely understood to have been bisexual, or possibly homosexual (albeit he did marry).
  • In Strip 72, Ed responds to Nina's hug attack and her own Harry Potter reference with "En... Engorgio!", an enlargement charm from the series. Innuendo aside, presumably Ed wishes he was somewhat taller (especially noting Nina's own height).
  • The title of Strip 105 ('Drink Me') is likely a reference to the labelled bottle Alice finds in opening chapter of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', written in 1865 by English author Charles Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll).
  • The title of Strip 132 ('The Jelly Protests') may well be an indirect reference to a famous line from 'Hamlet', by William Shakespeare (circa 1600). The original line is: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks..."
  • The title of Strip 160 ('Of Men') may well be a shortened reference to 'Of Mice and Men', the famous yet melodramatic 1937 novella by John Steinbeck. It may also reference the original Robert Burns poem (see Strip 224, below).
  • The title of Strip 174 ('Return of the King') refers to the third (and final) instalment of from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (1955). This may, in turn, be a nod back to Strip 13, where Carol draws a comparison to Thomas, Ed and member of the fellowship of the ring.
  • The title of Strip 191 ('Fortune's Fool') refers to a common line in several Shakespearean tragedies including 'Romeo & Juliet(late 16trh century)', 'King Lear' (1606) and 'Timon of Athens' (1623). In all cases, a character has acted rashly and/or delayed their flight.
  • The title of Strip 206 ('Silver Tounge') seemingly refers to Thomas' ability to talk his way out of most situations. However, a reader comment notes that the Silvertounge ability is specifically mentioned in the Inkheart trilogy by German author Cornelia Funke (originally published 2003 to 2007).
  • The title of Strip 216 ('What Dreams May Come') might refer to either 1978 novel of the same name by Richard Matherson, or the 1983 novel by Manly Wade Wellman. In either case, the titles are in turn derived from a line in the Shakespearean play Hamlet, specifically the "To be, or not to be..." soliloquy (spoken Act 3, Scene 1). The reference appears to add weight to Thomas' depth of feeling in the strip, and to the significance of his opening up to Carol.
  • The title of Strip 224 ('Best Laid Plans') is an indirect reference to a line from the Robert Burns poem 'To a Mouse' (1785): "The best-laid plans of mice and men; Go often askew..."
  • Strip 245 (and its title) refers back to Sun-Tze's treatise 'The Art of War', as first referenced in Strip 9.
  • The title of Strip 274 likely refers to (the often misquoted) 1712 play Cato, by English playwright Joesph Addison. The actual line (as spoken by the character Marcia in Act 4, Scene 1) was "The woman who hesitates is lost".
  • John's joke in Strip 282 refers to the character Gimli (Son of Gloin) in Tolkiens' Lord of the Rings. The strip's title ('And my Axe') refers to a line spoken by Gimil, pledging his service to the Fellowship.
  • The title of Strip 283 makes a further reference to LOTR, using the old Rohirric word 'Holbyta' (Hobbit).
  • John's final line of Strip 289 continues the run of LOTR references, with John suggesting he go "...on a quest with him [Ed], to toss some jewellery into a volcano." This succinctly summarises the quest undertaken by the Fellowship and later, the Hobbits alone.

Other References

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  • The title to Strip 34 ('Not a Kunoichi') alludes to Jessie's full-on eavesdropping and flirtatious display, the opposite of what might be expected of an actual Kunoichi (a female ninja).
  • Strip 51 shows a fantasy rendering of John and Thomas' proxy 'Battle Beasts' dual for Jessie's phone number. Battle Beasts were created in Japan by Takara, then released in NA in 1987 by Hasbro (when Thomas would have been about 8 years old). John appears to have selected 'Blitzkrieg Bat', a Series 1 Decepticon-aligned beast with a Fire power.
  • In the same strip, John's character exclaims "Odin's Beard!", a Norse-derived oath. (We subsequently realise his character has lost due to having the wrong power.)
  • Strip 52 shows a fantasy rendering of Thomas' attack during the 'Battle Beasts' dual. He appears to have selected 'Sawtooth Shark', a Series 1 Decepticon-aligned beast with a Water power.
  • The title of Strip 54 ('AH-NEE-MAY') refers to the Japanese art form, Anime.
  • In Strip 54, Thomas defends Battle Beasts as being much better than Rock-Paper-Scissors (known in Japan is 'Jan-Ken-Pon'). He suggests using Rock-Paper-Scissors would make them Weaboo - people obsessed with Japanese culture. Ironically, this suggests Thomas may be unaware of Battle Beasts' Japanese origin.
  • The title of Strip 79 ('Careless talk costs lives') is a reference to a British World War 2 propaganda campaign, discouraging the public discussion of sensitive information.
  • The title of Strip 86 ('Destination Exploitation') seems to be a play on 'Destination Exploration', a common phrase used to advertise adventure holidays. It may be hinting at how mundane life in the store usually is.
  • The title of Strip 93 ('For Great Justice') is a well-recognised trope (listed at TV Tropes). Carol's motivation in the strip might not be the best example...
  • The title of Strip 135 ('Concerning Love') could relate to any number of literary and musical works - far too many to guess at here!
  • The content and title of Strip 138 ('You must be this Tall') references the policy of many theme-park operators specifying a minimum height for certain rides. Presumably, Ed struggled to get on (actual) rides as a child...
  • The title of Strip 164 ('Dog won't Hunt') is a saying originating in the southern United States. Originally meaning something won't do its job, in this strip its later use suggesting an inadequate explanation seems more relevant.
  • The content of Strip 176 is a direct reference to Godwin's Law, first cited in 1990. The Law which states the longer and more entrenched a discussion becomes, the greater the chance that a participant will reference Hitler and/or the Nazis.
  • In Strip 193 Thomas refers (rather disparagingly) to the 'Special Olympics'.
  • The title of Strip 194 ('Déjà Vu') refers to the common psychological phenomena.
  • In Strip 198, Carol tells Ed about how the town of Marbleton started to die following a packaging plant fire. This may reference or mirror the real-life tragedy at the Imperial Foods processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina.
  • The title and a line within Strip 242 refer to the 'Riot Act'. While usually used as a figure-of-speech (when someone endeavours to call others to order), the actual Riot Act was introduced in 1714 within Great Britain.
  • The title of Strip 243 ('Scott Free') has a complex historical derivation, suggesting that someone is not obliged to pay any tax or due to another.
  • The tile of Strip 275 (and one of Carol's lines within it) sarcastically refers to the common trope of characters shedding a single tear when emotional.
  • The title of Strip 288 references Henry Kissinger, who was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize after negotiating a ceasefire during the Vietnam War. Ironically, given the context of the title (that Thomas isn't as successful a peacemaker), the ceasefire failed and Kissinger subsequently attempted to return the prize.
  • In Strip 295, Thomas congratulates Ed on an obscure reference to Carol and the historic blood sport of bear-baiting. It appears he's referencing the fact that standing still within reach of bear was often fatal for dog(s).
  • The title of Strip 298 refers to the common trope of 'Passing the Torch'. Although Thomas' role doesn't significantly change after this strip, he may be acknowledging that he can move forward with his life after his (as yet secret) kiss with Carol.
  • In Strip 302, Thomas quotes scientist and politician Benjamin Franklin, saying that "... three can keep a secret if two are dead." The saying was apparently carved above the office door of Mob boss Carlos Marcello. The title of the strip ('Cosa Nostra') also refers to the Mob, and specifically its original Sicilian roots.
  • In Strip 308, Jess teases Ed by wishing him "GOOD MORNING, GLORY!" Odds are, she's teasing him for his 'Morning Glory'...
  • Brooksie's main line in Strip 321 appears not to be a movie quote, but an ancient Chinese proverb. It has often been paraphrased in western society as the 'Mills of God' (which are said to grind slowly, but inevitably).

Additional References

  1. http://betweenfailures.com/comics1/1252-space-pussies
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nintendo_DS_colors_and_styles