After all, you didn’t even bother to name your particular species; we defined the whole bunch of you as being NOT-human, so you must be a what, monster? That makes sense. After all, you are digging the mines, I am writing – as in, putting words together, making stuff up, naming things.
—I am not fiction, Baruch Caan's blog
An English-language web comic written and drawn by Felix Schittig and Kilian Wilde and updated on Mondays and Thursdays. A Tale of Fiction is the continuing story of the adventures of Harper, his roommate Vauxhall (or 'Room'), and a Shapeshifting
monster unhuman they've named 'Sneaky' and their fight against the Department of Unethical Fiction (or DUF)'s government of Fictionaria.
The comic oscillates between gag strips, often based off real-life experiences of the comic's authors or their friends, and an over-arching storyline dealing with the aforementioned DUF. Major questions still abound about the circumstances surrounding their rule, how they gained power and what happened to the former ruler, the mysterious King.
A Tale of Fiction has a large amount of background material on the world and other goodies available on the site via Vauxhall's "Dragbook", including an in-universe news feed, an ambiguously DUF-critical web-column (updated roughly twice a month) and an in-universe webcomic called "Bison and the Boar Boys" (originally updated every Tue/Thu/Sat, but often subject to Schedule Slip, now on indefinite hiatus).
It can be read here.
- All There in the Manual: Information on certain things mentioned in the comic (e.g., turn-masks) but not further explained can be found in the Dragbook.
- Art Evolution: The art style becomes more detailed and sharp as the series progresses,.
- Ascended Extra: Baruch Caan wasn't a character at first, just a name under blog posts. Then he appeared in the strip, but mostly as a gag character. Now, he seems to be becoming a mover and shaker...
- Badass Normal: The DUF soldiers and especially the special agents qualify for this, fighting (and beating) unhumans with improved physical abilities and magique users on a regular basis.
- Beat Panel: A lot, especially in chapter 1. Awkward, Harper...
- Big Eater: Sneaky in the first chapter. He likes pizza.
- Bilingual Bonus: In a way. A lot of the jokes are funnier if you speak fluent German, as the authors'... uneven grasp of English occasionally backfires on them, with interesting results.
- Call Back: "Unhuman Rogue Wrestlers".
- Cerebus Syndrome: Subverted. The comic actually starts out without many jokes, but after a few strips, the True Companions fall into a routine of gag comics. It then feels like a shock when Sneaky tears some poor guy apart with a monster claw when they get caught illegally climbing a tower.
- Chekhov's Gag: The tentacled monster the trash evolved into after Harper neglected his duties turns out to be the reason the DUF searches the apartment building. But then, it did resemble his mom...
- Chekhov's Gun: Harper's affair with Sync's girlfriend. Sync and her later broke up after he found out. It understandably affects his job performance.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the main characters get a turn.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Pity the poor fool who shouts at a confused Sneaky...
- Distracted by the Sexy: Just about everyone in this strip. By each other.
- Dude in Distress: Harper and Vauxhall get a turn as this, as does Baruch Caan, although his isn't over yet...
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: When Gidders' airship is shot down by the DUF.
Sneaky: Fuzz flew away? Like... by himself? Without an avivessel?
- Face Framed in Shadow: In the very first strip, with the council pushing the button.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Most characters killed in this comic are killed fairly graphically.
- Fantastic Racism: A major plot focus. Unhumans are forced to live in slums in DUF-controlled territory and are generally discriminated against.
- Averted in Catherinesborough, where unhumans and humans seem to live in harmony since the DUF was ousted in the Bloody New Year's Eve.
- For the Evulz: Agent Nitz, as described in the Dragbook.
- Friends with Benefits: Just about all of Harper's relationships to date seem to be this.
- Heroic BSOD: Suffered by Gidders when he learns of the fate of his avivessel.
- Identity Amnesia: Sneaky. Presumably a plot point.
- I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Sneaky doesn't realise that his shapeshifting is an unusual ability at first.
- Informed Attribute: Special Agent Colibeuf is stated to have a strong moral concept [sic], but we haven't seen any evidence of that as yet.
- Interrupted Intimacy: Maurice walks in on Harper and Miranda at an... inopportune time.
- It Got Worse: Harper and Vauxhall have not been having a good few days. From a normal life and the occasional chance meeting with a hot neighbour (at least for Harper) to being actively hunted by the DUF and captured to be interrogated by special agents. Ouch.
- Knight of Cerebus: Special Agent Nitz, who turns up and quickly increases the violence in the strip by a factor of 10.
- Lampshade Hanging: Self-conscious humor is a constant source of punchlines, most obviously featured in Sneaky's confusion about Fuzzes Entry in chapter 5.
- Mr. Exposition: Vauxhall, whenever DUF lore or history comes up.
- Morphic Resonance: Sneakys eyes retain their black, abysmal look after all kinds of shapeshifting.
- Myth Arc: Presumably, finding out the fate of the mysterious King and defeating the DUF.
- No Dialogue Episode: Fairly often for the first few strips, establishing Sneaky. Also used for action sequences.
- Oh Crap: A few times, very nicely here.
- Porn Stash: Of epic proportions on the Dragbook. Unfortunately, it's password-protected.
- Punch Clock Villain: Chapter 4 is all about DUF agents in their free time, having drinks and enjoying each others' company.
- Shout-Out: Several.
- Gidders and Fuzz remind us of a certain other human mercenary with a flying machine and his furry sidekick...
- The regularly used curse expression "frakk" seems to be a Shout-Out to the Future Slang of Battlestar Galactica (although in Galactica the spelling would be with one 'k' only)
- This strip seems to be a Shout-Out to Metal Gear.
- Confirmed by Word of God.
- The True Companions trying to climb the DUF tower and getting caught is a Shout-Out to something similar that happened to the authors in Tokyo... well, minus the bloody killing of a police officer.
- Bison and the Boar Boys is a Shout-Out to a friend of the authors' whose online handle is Bison.
- There are quite a few Shout Outs to friends of the authors in the comic generally.
- Show Within a Show: Bison and the Boar Boys, a gag-a-day comic available on the Dragbook's "FictionFox Browser". "I am not fiction" may also qualify.
- Smoking Hot Sex: Mostly averted in the series, but one occurence in Chapter 1.
- Spock Speak: Sneaky falls into this quite often.
- Stripperiffic: The "CWBL host".
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: In the very first strip, no less.
- True Companions: The three main characters, occasional differences between roommates notwithstanding.
- Wham! Episode: Tend to crop up at the end of chapters. Also, this.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Invoked in-universe by Special Agents in particular.
- Write Who You Know: Especially prominent in Harper in the more comic arcs.