Kid Radd

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Radd 4154.jpg

Kid Radd is an animated Pixel Art Comic in the style of a Sprite Comic by Dan Miller following the adventures of the eponymous Video Game hero after being released from his game.

While at first the comic was a lighthearted parody focusing on Radd's attempts to fit into a more complicated society, the plot eventually expanded into a far-reaching, well-plotted, epic examination of video game character mentality. And it stayed funny.

Rose above most sprite comics for its blend of a deep plot, humor, and philosophical questioning, not to mention its unique style- by composing its comic panels from HTML frames and smaller images, Miller was able to easily slip animated sprites and backgrounds into the panels.

Though the original site is dead and gone from the face of the internet due to AT&T discontinuing their Worldnet service, the site was previously packaged into an archive which is still circulating. One copy can be found here. A link with a browser to view it in (unless you're using IE5, you probably want this one) is here. A fan has uploaded the comic onto his own site here. Another fan has re-coded the comic to work in modern browsers and uploaded it here.

A game based on the comic can be found here.

There are spoilers below. Be warned.


Tropes used in Kid Radd include:
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot
  • Air Guitar: As seen in the page pic.
  • Almost Kiss: It's a running joke for a while that the Kid Radd game ends just before Radd would get to kiss Sheena. Also shows up outside the game a few times, e.g. in 364.
  • Art Evolution: Early action sequences, while good, resembled old fighting and action games (which makes sense within the story). Later action sequences used bullet time, cameras that moved around the characters, Matrix-style, and resembled Dragonball Z more than anything.
  • Big Bad: Crystal. Or not, as it turns out. It's really the Seer.
  • Binary Bits and Bytes: Kid Radd has a Charged Attack called the Mega Radd, which becomes stronger the longer it is charged. Its maximum charge power is based on the maximum word size for a system, which goes to 255 on an 8-bit system. However, due to shoddy programming, it simply charges to the highest level it can, going to over four billion on a 32-bit system, and making Radd one of the most powerful figures in the universe.
  • Blood Knight: GI Guy especially when he betrays Radd.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: Kobayashi's Death Trap robot has hovering platforms that can be stepped on to shoot its core.
  • Breather Episode: Fourth-Wall Week, especially the fourth one.
  • Brick Joke: In the credits, it appears that Kobayashi took some of Radd's advice to heart when making a new robot.
  • Broken Ace: GI Guy.
  • Broken Bridge: "The road is closed."
  • Captain Ersatz: Radd's design was actually inspired by a video game character named Jake, from an old Jaleco game called Totally Rad, as explained here.
    • Radd's name also comes from said game.
  • Cast From HP:
    • Some of G.I. Guy's attacks.
    • In one case, Sheena's opponent in the fighting game tries every move in her arsenal, even one that sacrifices her own health, and loses when the time runs out because she took damage while Sheena remained unscathed.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Done well.
  • Character Development: Again, done well. Hell, the Character Development is practically a plot point: characters diverging from their pre-programmed actions is a major part of the plot; the heroes succeed because they have grown beyond what they were written to be, the villains fail because they have chosen to remain static
  • Charged Attack: The Mega Radd, which becomes an important plot device later on.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The fact that the Seer started life as a virus.
    • Also, two from the very first chapter: everything hurts Radd equally and the Mega Radd charges to a max value of 255 because "Hey, do I have to explain everything?" The latter ends up having almost literally Earth-shattering significance.
    • Comic 592 is loaded with reminders of them from all across the comic.

Seer: Fools! This is only a game death! I'll still exist, and will still destroy this world!
GI Guy: Most of the time when sprites battle, they're just playing with each others' programming... Live or die, no code is actually damaged.
Radd: How did you "half" kill somebody?
Kobayashi: Um, he got better.

  • Classic Cheat Code: Parodying the tendency to make cheat codes spell something pronounceable (DULLARD, BARACUDA), the infinite Raddboard code is Right, Up, Right, A, Down, Down. (R U RADD?)
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: The Seer gains a controllable sprite to use to Take Over the World, but loses its omniscience in the process, which is what allows the heroes to defeat it.
  • Collision Damage: Described as the "Touch of Death". In one CSI parody, this is how the murderer accidentally kills the victim.
  • The Comically Serious: GI Guy.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: "What is a sprite? A miserable pile of pixels!" The first attempt at civilization outside the games angsted itself to death, which didn't take much. Existential doubt is dangerous in the fireball-throwing hands of people who know exactly what they were created to do.
  • Cool but Impractical / Boring but Practical: Kobayashi has some cool and flashy attacks that never hit, and some boring attacks that never miss.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Radd, Sheena and Bogey's fights against their counterparts in the fighting game. They regretfully decide that they're not strong enough to take along.
    • Much more dramatically, Radd's fight with Gnarl after the latter tracks him down--the degree to which he was completely out of his league was the plot's takeaway from the battle.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Crystal. She doesn't kill her messengers, though as a sadist she loves torturing them, and rather than allow Radd to create an army with his powers, she has all copies of his ROM destroyed. She did let GI Guy live, but that was out of sadism, to torture him with the world of her own creation. She even calls it a stupid move.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Seer, while fused with Crystal, has 9999 HP, but takes one point of damage per attack regardless of the attack's strength, and so must be hit about ten thousand times.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nearly all of the main characters have their moments, but Bogey is the undisputed master of the art.
  • Deconstruction: Of video games, video game tropes, and probably some sprite comics as well. Game sprites act out their roles outside the game. At best, like Radd, they have a long way to go before they can channel their talents into something productive for society. At worst, they regress into violent behavior.

GI Guy: Over absolutely nothing, dozens of sprites started fighting and killing each other.
Radd: But why?
GI GUY: Because that's what video game characters do.

Sheena: Oh look, I'm up against a girl. Hooray for typecasting.

Radd2: It's the latest in hair technology.

  • Evil Overlord List: This is Gnarl's take on this idea.
  • Evil Twin: Radd's 'brother' Gnarl.
  • Evolving Credits: If a comic takes place inside a game, the title page will be from that game as well. It also gets more and more glitchy as the Kid Radd 2 game collapses.
  • Faceless Eye: The Seer's avatar...Actually a bunch of Faceless Eyes, given that he's a Hive Mind.
  • Fish Out of Water: A lot of sprites don't fit into the world outside their games, either from inability to cope well (Many hero sprites) or actual handicaps (Many enemy sprites).
  • Friendly Target
  • Funny Background Event: In "JUST CAN'T WIN"
  • Fusion Dance: Features a Mixed Form version mid way through the comic. Also features a Composite character very late on, with an actual dance that looks (in minimal pixels) very similar to the Dragonball Z Trope Namer version.
  • Game Breaker: Sprites who were balanced in their own games can be very broken in other games. Radd and Bogey find it very easy to Stun Lock fighting game characters, for example.
  • Glass Cannon: Radd, once outside of his own game--he's got enough raw power to affect the real world from the internet, but will die after four hits, no matter how trivial.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Gnarl and Kobayashi, though both of them perform Heel Face Turns near the end of the story. Furthermore, Kobayashi subverts the trope by becoming scarily competent right before said Heel Face Turn.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The attempt to fuse murderous sprites with NPC sprites, rather than resulting in sprites that could live peacefully, resulted in ones that can kill without being defeatable. It took quite a bit of effort to round them up, and a collapsing video game ROM to destroy them.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Turns out to be a major, dramatic plot point. Because of programmer laziness, the charged Mega Radd just charges until the variable limit has been reached. In his original game, this put Radd's maximum damage at 255. On modern systems, the limit is high enough to cause ...problems.
  • Good Is Dumb: Inverted by Kobayashi in rather awesome fashion - see Goldfish Poop Gang.
  • The Goomba: Bogey's role in the Kid Radd games.
  • GIFT: Very much present in the chatrooms where Radd serves as an avatar.
  • Grand Finale: Plus an epilogue.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Physics don't exist. Characters fall at the rates they're programmed to fall.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body:
    • Radd uses Sheena as a club to defeat Kobayashi. Fortunately for her, she has NPC invulnerability.
    • Itty Bitty uses one of those unnamed Redshirt Army Mooks as a bowling ball to knock down dozens of them.
  • Groin Attack: Radd to Kobayashi at the end of their first encounter.
  • Hand Wave: Often parodied.
  • Henshin Hero: Sheena later acquires a temporary mode where she becomes like a player character, being able to attack like a (mostly) stronger version of Radd but losing her invincibility.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bogey, although he got resurrected at the end.
  • Hive Mind: The Seer is a conglomeration of various bots in a computer virus, effectively allowing him omniscience. Still didn't stop him from getting blown to next Thursday.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: One of the sprites.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Gnarl and Kobayashi again.

Captain QB: Guys, talking during a movie is NOT funny.
Kid Radd: It's not?

  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Radd keeps calling Kobayashi, the ninja that has been hired to assassinate him, "Kielbasa".
  • Nice Guy: Bogey. "And boy, does it suck."
  • No Fair Cheating: In Mofo, the EarthBound-ersatz. They have to deplete the boss' HP in a single round, since they don't have the character necessary to kill him.
  • No Fourth Wall: The fourth wall disappears as the story progresses.
    • When Sheena starts taking up too much screen time, Radd takes her to stand in front of the title page of the comic and points out that this is his comic because it's HIS name on there.
    • After a party scene where the reader could click on different buttons to play through different dancing animations:

Sheena: Wow, that was a short party.
Bogey: I guess the reader's John Ashcroft.

  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Radd himself, due to some lazy programming.
  • Oh Crap: The Seer; "Oh yeah, the control room. OH SHI-"
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Two characters: GI and the Seer, both of whom attempt to destroy the world, for very different reasons. The Seer goes the extra mile by planning to travel to other planets, the slow way, in hope of finding more life so he can destroy that as well.
  • Omniscient Morality License: The Moderators destroy game worlds in their quest to free video game sprites. They argue it is for the sprites' best, but the sprites get no say as their world is doomed as soon as the Moderators enter it. Sheena, however, has doubts about this, and decides to tender her resignation just before she learns of the plot to kill Radd.
  • The Omniscient: The Seer. He ends up being Not So Omniscient After All.
  • Pair the Spares: At the very end, Bogey and Joule glomp each other adorably... and accidentally.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Radd, on modern systems (see below).
  • Powers of Two Minus One: Radd's charged attack is limited by the number of bits the processor he's occupying can provide. This is Infodumped at the start and used as a Chekhov's Gun later.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: In a Matrix parody Radd is offered the usual red and blue pills. But there's also the purple pill to relieve acid indigestion and an orange pill to reduce your cholesterol. The yellow pill is for erm... personal reasons (because the blue pill was already taken). And Radd can't just choose any pill, first he must ask his doctor if they're right for him.
  • The Reveal: Hoo boy. The Seer stepping out from behind The Man; see below.
  • Running Gag: A fair few. Whenever Dr Amp explains a piece of science, whoever he's talking to says "So it's a rip off of X," to which he replies, "Well, Y actually. But yeah."
  • Save the Princess: The plot of the Kid Radd game.
  • Screwed by the Network: The original version did not take browser updates well.
  • Shadow Archetype: The Seer for the main characters.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Subverted. At first glance, Dr. Amp's explanation of how they defeated The Seer seems like they didn't need to do anything. A little thought shows that they did have to defeat him first, but they know that he's not coming back.
  • Shoplift and Die: Used as part of Radd's army of sprites with unusual game mechanics. No boss, however powerful and convoluted, can possibly be a match (in the long run) for an invincible shopkeeper with an attack...
  • Shoot the Messenger: Crystal. (She settles for "infliction of gratuitous pain" - almost as much fun as killing him, but less wasteful and less cliché.)
  • Shout-Out: Lots, especially the "original" games.
  • Sociopathic Hero: The intrinsic nature of a staggering majority of video game heroes, once they try to live together.
  • Sound of No Damage: Lampshaded in Comic 197.

Fool! My traps are protected with an indestructible alloy! I shall laugh as your pathetic attacks bounce off with a cutesy "clink" sound! Mwa ha and ha!

Sheena: You're actually sympathizing with him?
Radd: No way! He was just... well, like a lot of madmen. Somewhat accurate view of the problem, really insane view of the solution.

    • Captain QB decides to have Radd killed, believing that Crystal's plan will help free the rest of the sprites. He later realizes that he was wrong and apologizes profusely to Radd.
  • Wham! Episode: The Reveal above.
  • Wham! Line: "Crystal? No, no, no, Crystal has left the building. YOU'RE TALKING TO THE SEER."
    • Sheena: Besides, if you'd died, how could I arrest you?
    • Sheena announcing that the Moderators already took Reset after she and Radd defeat the fleet at the portals.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Justified and Averted. In the final battle, Radd puts up with the villain's monologue to get time to charge his attack. He fires as soon as he finds out how much HP the villain has, and realizes that he has charged sufficiently to instantly kill The Seer. It doesn't work..
  • Widget Series: The anime Bogey watches.
  • You Get What You Pay For: A couple of flunkies are given ten grand to buy the very best assassin to kill Kid Radd while he's in jail. The flunkies decide to get a discount ninja for twenty bucks and keep the rest. The ninja can't hit the broad side of a barn.
  1. It's a turn-based RPG, so he can get away with this. And for the record, it's a 12-bit system.