Ciem Webcomic Series

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"No, you are a fool. But you're my favorite one..."
—Laurie (to Candi)

The Ciem webcomic series was a dramatic Pastiche DSHW Machinomic from Dozerfleet Productions which was in development from 2005-2009, an online think tank which specialized at the time in playing around with various comic book and drama tropes whilst simultaneously showing off the storyboard capabilities of mixing Photoshop with The Sims 2.

The series featured the misadventures of the titular Candice "Candi" Marie "Stevens" Flippo-Levens-McArthur / Ciem, a teenage girl in 2019 who finds out that Phaelite aliens mutated her father while he was a baby, which allows her to have centipede powers. From there, she realizes that she is supposed to help her Big Screwed-Up Family battle their archnemeses: The genocidal Hebbleskin Gang, made up of Meethlite aliens.

Willing to go along with it, albeit on her own terms, she tries to also get into college and manage her love life. Cue several loved ones being killed left and right, several averted apocalypses, and even a few pseudo-governmental conspiracies to turn her and her sisters into Duke Arfaas' trophies, and the Determined Widow becomes more determined than ever to finally settle down. In the meantime, she struggles with doubt, compromise, fear, lack of self-confidence, guilt, Wangst, lust, her boyfriend's health problems, and how to help Botan the Plant-Man get his wish.

The trilogy initially began in 2005 as an Affectionate Parody of the Spider-Man film series, and was a Spin-Off of an obscure comic called The Battle for Gerosha, before becoming an entity all unto itself. The first webcomic was attempted once in June 2005, once in March–September of 2006, and a satisfactory version was completed in January–October 2007, being published to Mod The Sims Social in November 2008 and completed in the DSHW Machinomic format in January 2009.

Due to its heavy reliance on The Sims 2 and related game mods as rendering tools, several tropes from that game are played with and repurposed rather freely. In spite of coming out around the same time as Starline Hodge's much more popular Candi, the two have nothing to do with each other, in spite of some remarkable similarities.

Also, in spite the first story's original subtitle, it has absolutely nothing to do with the horror film series The Human Centipede. In fact, the realization of them being Similarly Named Works actually resulted in Writer Revolt, where the author of Ciem decided to create an Ultimate Universe dubbed "Comprehensive Gerosha" in novella form to justify renaming the first story "Ciem: Vigilante Centipede." And while that was in Development Hell, it got some high marks as a promotional tool for UGO.com, for the fact that nearly every character from the cast can be easily re-created with their HeroMachine software.

In November 2009, development of Ciem 2 was put on hiatus due to the author suffering from health problems while also working on a murder mystery/thriller miniseries for DozerfleetTV and the Ferris State University Bulldog Television cable channel, titled Blood Over Water. Following the demands of an internship, and as further response to The Human Centipede being released, all of Classic Gerosha continuity was abandoned for Comprehensive Gerosha. Ciem 2 webcomic development was replaced with plans for a novel that would have had the same plot, and been dubbed Ciem: Nuclear Crisis. Likewise, Ciem 3 was canceled and replaced with Ciem: Condemnation.

Eventually, Comprehensive Gerosha and the concept of a Ciem Trilogy would be abandoned altogether in November 2012 in exchange for "Cataclysmic Gerosha." The new continuity reinvented several characters from previous continuities while writing others out entirely, consolidating all remaining Gerosha continuity into a single alternate history timeline that posed the question: "What if Obama's friends in the Muslim Brotherhood had suddenly formed a pact with the Hebbleskin Gang, and the result was China taking over the west coast to secure its interests in US debt?" This means that the (mostly)-Standard Superhero Setting is combined with a Divided States of America premise.

The Phaelite Society of Earth in this version is shown forming an organization to serve as a liaison between itself and the national guard of what is left of America After the End, appropriately dubbing itself "SCALLOP" after the scallop shell that is the Gerosha Stone that is the official symbol of The Gerosha Chronicles. (SCALLOP, of course, being a hat tip to SHIELD in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) The series in Cataclysmic Gerosha's timeline that would deal specifically with Candi and her friends (as well as the aftermath of other characters' stories) was initially dubbed Ciem: Cataclysmic Horizons in early November 2012, before being quickly renamed Cataclysmic Horizons. It was later retitled Sodality in 2013, around the Sodality of Gerosha superhero league that Ciem eventually joins. This was to emphasize the ensemble nature of cast in the series premise, as Ciem was no longer viewed as being interesting enough to carry the series as a solo main character.

More detailed discussion about series history can be read here, here, and here. More information on Sodality can be read here. Links are provided to articles documenting the reinterpretations of cast. DeviantArt panels related to Sodality content can be found here.

Ciem[edit | hide | hide all]

The original poster, including the unfortunate former subtitle.

Serving as an origin story, Ciem tells the origins of Candi Levens, an onyro-haired teenage hermit and amateur crimefighter who was born with centipede-themed superpowers and several venomous tentacles (reduced in size to glorified stingers in later versions) that hide inside her arms and legs, called her "centilegs." She is revealed to have a boyfriend, a nearing-retirement superhero named Donte McArthur/Emeraldon. Her sisters reveal to her that her family is more dysfunctional than she originally cared to know.

One afternoon, Candi decides to show up late for a party that her hacker sister Miriam is going to, so she can practice her centi-fu fighting skills and say goodbye to her boyfriend before he goes off to war on an alien planet. She doesn't detain him as long as she would've liked to. But as soon as he leaves, she ends up in a fight to the death with a Not Brainwashed ex-boyfriend from her grade school years, who is working for the genocidal Hebbleskin Gang. She learns that this Meethlite alien gang, led by Duke Arfaas, wants her and her sisters' heads as trophies, in an effort to fight back against an oracle in which a "Gifted One" of the "li Po" would destroy Arfaas' last remaining monsters, signifying the end of the Hebbleskin Gang.

To make a long story short, her boyfriend becomes a prisoner of war and is rumored dead. Her parental-figure sister Erin is brutally murdered, and Miriam is now about to go into hiding. Candi herself has a Heroic BSOD at hearing the news, and moves to a nearby university town to give her life a fresh start. After a few adventures in crimefighting, it becomes obvious that the police are behaving in an unusual manner, and Meethlite activity in the area is increasing. She eventually meets the charming-but-troubled Denny Levens. This man seems to be all too aware of how messed-up the town of Viron really is, and quickly forms an alliance with Candi.

Arfaas and his gang finally decide that their target, the Gifted Flippo, is hiding somewhere in plain sight. Having taken control of the Dirbine Evansville Police, they decide to send a monster to do everyone else's dirty work, but have trouble finding the perfect take. They eventually create a metallic shrew costume, complete with an evil AI that will turn the wearer into a Brainwashed killing machine servant. This leads to them abducting Jeraime Malestrom, and turning him into their cyborg's glorified beating heart.

After failing to help an alien experimentation victim named Jeral Cormier, Candi decides to give Denny a chance at dating her. However, the fact that she does so, and the fact that she attends Viron University, led some townsfolk to assume the worst about her. Old enemies begin haunting Candi as visions when she cannot overcome her newfound bad reputation. This culminates in Denny barely surviving an attempt on his life by one of the very same Meethlites that murdered Erin, which causes Candi to feel little sympathy when that Meethlite blows himself up dies after losing in battle.

Not sure what else to do, Candi and Denny decide to get married. Big mistake! Candi soon learns that after about a month of being pregnant, she's been effectively Brought Down to Normal enough to be unable to protect her new Muggle husband. And that's when Musaran's killing spree escalates! After several more Musaran-related murders leads to both Denny and Angie (Candi's daughter) dying, Candi decides she's had enough, and takes several levels in badass to become an orange-suited freedom fighter.

A Mexican community starts cheering for the great Ciempies that rescued one of their own from a Complete Monster who was fond of children, so the news begins calling her "Ciem." Candi then learns that her original boyfriend Donte might still be alive, and decides that part of her quest to save her hometown must involve saving Donte from impending doom.

This story was spread around on CD's at some colleges and wherever else it could be spread while the author waited for an opportunity to publish it online in its original format. It is therefore one of the most aggressive comics pushing for mainstream acceptance of the DVD-Storybook Hybrid Webcomic Format. It was also in forum syndication on a few Internet forums, such as The Dozerfleet Forum and Mod The Sims Social - until the Proboards version of The Dozerfleet Forum went offline and left the story only intact on MTS Social. Ironically, its Comprehensive Gerosha novel series was not an aggressive push for DSHW Machinomics.

Ciem 2[edit | hide]

Promotional poster, flaunting the fact that in spite hardware software limitations in the game engine and laptop running it, improved Photoshop techniques allowed the suit in post to have texture this time.

In the sequel, Donte is broke and can't seem to get a job. Candi takes pity on him, and after the couple succumb to their sexual desires a few times, Candi begins questioning why they haven't married yet. Donte also reveals that he promised a friend that if that friend and his wife both died, he'd adopt their son. But a pesky gay couple that's stalking Donte won't let that happen, and the judge will only rule in Candi and Donte's favor if they agree to marry.

But not so fast! While Candi and Donte are figuring out the future of their relationship, Candi's sister Miriam finds herself thrust into a ridiculous Government Conspiracy that involves several close calls with Chinese government agents and terrorists. Donte, now battling cancer, must go to Ploribus for treatment and leave Candi behind to deal with all her life's problems alone. She soon finds herself playing bodyguard to Miriam, while all Hell breaks loose in Dirbine.

Adding to the complications the two sisters face is Miriam's old seafarer friend Simon Aardvonius, who's been turned into the megalomaniacal, termite-lusting Captain Aardwulf by the Hebbleskin Gang as punishment for not keeping up with extortion payments. Capp Aard sets his sights on creating a "Termite Farm Empire" to satisfy his never-ending desire to eat termites. To do that, he reasons he has to steal as many precious jewels as possible and ransom them. Who better for the job than Playful Hacker Miriam "Sniperbadger" Flippo?

Then, the radioactive Ming-Yo gets loose in Dirbine, with a sexy CIA agent battling everything in her path to get to it first. Having problems with her powers, Candi suspects she may be pregnant again. Miriam confirms that she is also pregnant, with twins. With the world stacked against them, the two sisters must band together for safety. But can they rebuild their lives and redeem themselves from their past indiscretions?

Ciem 3[edit | hide]

Taking a design cue from X-Men: The Animated Series, the two sides duke it out for Botan's soul in this promo poster.

By Ciem 3, Candi and Donte are happily married. They aren't as rich as they used to be, but at least things are looking up. Candi is now done with her schooling at Viron University. The couple is planning to move to Kentucky eventually. They finally have two children, Charlie (adopted) and Frank (the result of their indiscretions in Ciem 2.) Candi has taken up a job at a bar since Donte still can't find work. Ciem is popular with the public. Duke Arfaas' death has recently become public knowledge.

That's when things get ugly. Several of Candi's surviving old enemies band together to seek the ultimate vengeance against her. A ninja named Kimiyato "Milp" Hiriyama tries unsuccessfully to frame Candi for child abuse, and then goes One-Winged Angel on Dirbine after Candi is captured by the same ex-government conspirator that originally made life so difficult for Miriam. Having risen through the Meethlite ranks quickly, the insane Lloyd Kolumn traps Candi and several other Supers in a dungeon the Meethlites built along the California coastline. Candi is sentenced to death by beheading, and forced to wait a week and a half to march to her own death. A bracelet she is forced to wear lies to her body and tells her she is pregnant, so her body stops having powers that work consistently. Reluctantly resigned to her fate, she begins assuming a motherly role to her more traumatized cell mates, who are sentenced to be drowned when the facility is to be deliberately flooded on Candi's assigned execution date.

Ploribus, out of youth formula and fearing the Reaper, decides to to nothing. Dolly gets fed up with this, and steals a suit from Ploribus that was in-turn stolen from the Meethlites. She uses it to become The Earwig, and do the jobs that nobody else seems willing to: 1) Rescue Candi and 2) fight Candi's enemies in Candi's absence. It soon becomes obvious to Dolly, however, that her new suit's helmet is slowly driving her insane with its Ax Crazy proclivities. She resolves to use its power to rescue Candi before she loses her soul to it.

This leads to several violent escapades, and narrow escapes from death by almost every heroic character not in the shelter of Ploribus' underground base. Afterwards, it culminates in an enormous battle, where Candi, Dolly, Charlotte, and Kyle must fight Kimi for the soul of Jeral Cormier / Botan, and the future of Dirbine.


Tropes used in Ciem Webcomic Series include:

Tropes unique to the first story:
  • Anachronism Stew / Zeerust: The town of Gerosha is slowly catching up culturally with the world around it. Meanwhile, nearly everyone in the year 2021 is still using CRT computer monitors!
    • Handwaved in that the Montinel Corporation still manufactures them. Used in the story because:
    1. CRT's were still common in 2007, when the snapshots were taken, and:
    2. There are limited options in The Sims 2 by default for newer monitor technologies.

"Would you kill Mary? Then why pick on Viron students? (Indirectly indicting Pete and Nolle for persecuting Candi.)

    • While not God, he is an effective mouthpiece.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Candi, though she's not actually all that nerdy (that would be Miriam.) Nevertheless, she is hated rather disproportionately for someone with her good looks.
  • I Have Your Boyfriend: Subverted. Candi never gets "The Call" about it from Musaran. She snuck in to the library and learned of the devious plan. And then, Donte himself confirmed it. In Ciem 2, Vienna confirms to Candi that Aard has Candi's sister Miriam, and that Vienna herself has gone after them.
  • Imaginary Enemy: Subverted. Kimi is a REAL threat, but creates the illusion of herself as a Projected Avatar at times, just to torment Candi. Candi uses her religious faith to shield herself, which only annoys Kimi.
  • Kangaroo Court: Taken to ridiculous extremes: Candi, Donte, Dolly, Lindsay, and more are not even given the luxury of a show trial! They are simply thrown into cells buried in dark chambers and marked for eventual death. Merle, however, doesn't think it important to install cameras, in the vague chance that, maybe, someone down there might escape!
  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Subverted. Bezeetol fuel is running low in production as it's expensive and Meethlite technology is evolving away from it. Yet, the villlains seem to find just enough of it lying around for Don the Psycho and Jeff the Invisible to attempt using it on the exact same heroes - in the exact same building!
  • Les Collaborateurs: Merle Hourvitz and his police are Hebbleskin Gang pawns.
  • Magical Abortion: Sort of. Angie is born live, but dies a few hours later while battling Kimiyato's evil powers and destroying them. This leads to a very pissed off Kimi, who vows revenge on Candi.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: Candi spends most of the story (the first 23 chapters) without her iconic costume. Even after getting it, she only spends five of the remaining chapters in it at any point in time. It gets a little more use in the sequels, where the suit is now able to be worn in pieces instead of all at once.
  • Meaningful Funeral: For Candi and Donte, Denny and Angie's funeral is a matter of closure and a chance to move to the next phase of their lives. It also keeps them from getting insane about each other too soon. They don't seem able to get many others to want to attend a funeral for Candi's fallen family, suggesting that:
    1. Viron is made of cold fish and
    2. The Meethlites are still powerful and intimidating.

Tropes unique to Ciem 2:
  • Auto Erotica: Averted and parodied during a dream sequence. Candi wakes up to find herself in the backseat of a Model T Ford...ALONE! And she has no idea how she got there, but is wearing a dress she doesn't recognize. Then she finds her much-alive(?) ex-husband on top of the ship they're on, raving like a complete idiot.
  • Minion with an F In Evil: Teal Hog. He ends up rescuing Miriam from a thug that was about to rape and possibly kill her, and then sets her loose on the street, completely oblivious to the fact that she was the girl he was sent to capture!
  • Redemption Equals Death: In an abstract sense, Miriam's Sniperbadger persona had to be hijacked and destroyed before Miriam could set her life straight. Played with in a particularly cruel manner in which, for her to find redemption for having gotten involved with a porn site, the site's webmaster ends up being the one who dies!
  • Take That / Non Sequitur Scene: Chapter 5 is a gruelingly satirical parody of Titanic.

Tropes unique to Ciem 3: