(From Operation Chutzpah. Click on image to see full-sized insanity.)
Back late in 2000 I started down the addictive world of webcomics with the comics Clan of the Cats and College Roomies from Hell. Of the two, CRfH had a very active and imaginative forum community, one that I joined with great enthusiasm. Indeed, I soon was writing fanfiction for CRfH and joining in various creative endeavors on the Board. One such endeavor was the creation of “Participation Fan Fiction” (PFF), in which various forumites would agree to let writers use their online avatars as characters in meta-stories tangentially related to the CRfH universe. These PFFs went on to shape the evolution of the CRfH forum, even as a reduced update schedule and a huge surge in webcomic communities reduced the size of the CRfH community. (Indeed, the Kitten mascots here at Tangents originated as a result of roleplay and PFFs on the CRfH forums.)
This meta-structure can still be found in the CRfH forum, with various forum members taking on personas on the CRfH forum and later branching out into other forums (such as the forum for El Goonish Shive). This manifested during the recent Crossover Wars in the Forum Wars segment, with various artists drawing the war between forum personas and the Evil Overlords who sought to take over comics these readers enjoyed. However, there actually is a precursor to Forum Wars, lurking unseen in the depths of the internet: Operation Chutzpah.
Working off of the original PFF by the Keenspot forumite Loweko, Operation Chutzpah integrates the mythos of the Boardies and FLEET into a cohesive whole, creating an ongoing history that exists outside of the PFFs and integrated into the cosm of Maritza Campos’s webcomic College Roomies from Hell. Included is a 25-page comic drawn by Maritza Campos (on commission) dealing with an infernal incursion and comically introducing a host of Boardie personas. But OC is much more than just a quick webcomic cameoing multiple forumites, and a fictional historic overview of the Boardies.Various CRfH factions are given descriptions and symbols. Fictional bases, vehicles and equipment, and descriptions of various Boardie and FLEET personas are also available, and how they integrate into the CRfH universe (at least, from the Boardie perspective – OC admits outright that while Maritza Campos pitched in on some ideas and assisted in editing some content, it is not CRfH canon. Though a picture of the Funky Horror space station did appear in the comic, much to the delight of various CRfH forum users.
The OC comic does give a good impression of just how over-the-top the CRfH forum can get at times. Such things as Musical Bonbardment Protocols (hey, if Captain Harlock can have a huge organ on the Arcadia, why can’t the Boardies have one on their starbase? Though I’m unsure as to their taste of bombardment music…) and Chicken Rays were common light-hearted aspects of the roleplaying aspects of the CRfH forum. And you have to admit, blasting a demon-prince into a chicken-form is twenty levels of amusing.
I’d say more, but the Kittens have alerted me that the Funky Horror is acquiring a target lock on my location – something about unauthorized transmission of classified information. Let’s see how they are with a mobile target… though their misses will liven up the New Year’s fireworks, no doubt.
Robert A. Howard