Off Beat

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Meet your heroes (from right): OCD Stalker and Extreme Recluse

Tory Blake is fifteen, a genius, and bored. He spends his time breezing through school, doodling, worrying his mother, playing 90s computer games with his college-aged neighbor, and documenting everything that happens in his life in worrying detail. One night, something happens that promises to alleviate his boredom: a mysterious boy, Colin Stephens, and his guardian move into the duplex next door. Over the next year, Tory becomes increasingly obsessed with figuring out the mystery behind his neighbors' bizarre actions, to the point of transferring schools to get closer to Colin. What secrets could Colin be hiding? What is the Gaia Project, and how does Colin fit into it?

Off*beat is an OEL manga by Jen Lee Quick, the first two volumes of which were published in 2005 and 2006 by TokyoPop. Despite the efforts of its small but devoted fanbase, the third and final volume is still in limbo. However, Jen posted a notice on her Deviant ART page assuring her followers that Off*beat would be concluded sometime in 2012.

Tropes used in Off Beat include:
  • Boys Love
  • The Chick: Mandy, who is surprisingly likable despite being "the girl" in a Boys Love story.
  • Cliff Hanger: The first volume ends with Colin asking Tory, "Why are you always around? What do you want?" The second volume ends with the two of them getting in a fist fight. And there's no volume three. WTH publisher.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Tory has moments of these, particularly involving Colin and Dr. Garrets.

Tory: Are they counterfeiters? Arms dealers or illegal immigrants? Spies, drug dealers, part of the occult, the Mafia, KKK or maybe aliens...

  • Crash Into Hello: Purposefully invoked by Tory. However, it completely backfires on him.
  • Crazy Cat Guy/KindheartedCatLover: Colin sits somewhere between these two. He has at least six cats.
  • Crazy Prepared: Tory's alleged reason for keeping his journals as obsessively detailed as he does.
  • Creator Breakdown/Writer's Block: Jen Lee Quick went quiet for a long period of time, with no updates to her Deviant ART page or much artistic activity. She recently came back and explained in a post that she had been deeply depressed after the death of her father in 2009.
  • Disappeared Dad: We don't hear much about Tory's father, except that he was apparently kind of a Jerkass.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Despite his first name actually being Christopher, our hero prefers to be called by his middle name, Tory. Mostly because he shares the name with his Jerkass absentee father.
  • Foreshadowing: A big, unsubtle one from Chapter Nine is the ending closeup on Colin's backpack. In it is one of Tory's stalker journals from 1st quarter of school.
  • Gaia's Lament: Judging from Colin's sickly-looking visualization of Mother Earth, the Gaia Project may have had something to do with this.
  • Girl Posse: Mandy's two friends, who start out as unsympathetic harpies but turn out to only have Mandy's best interests in mind. After all, they're right that Tory tends to step all over other people's feelings.
  • Green Eyed Red Head: Tory and his mother.
  • Guile Hero: Tory, although he hasn't yet learned to use his powers for good instead of stalking.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Breaking into a guidance counselor's office for information on Colin is just another one the tasks on Tory's list.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: Apparently Tory does a risk analysis every night before he goes to bed to see the odds of anything happening.
  • Ill Boy: Colin.
  • Imagine Spot: Tory has a tendency to daydream about everything from Mad Scientists to Ninjas to a Showdown At High Noon, complete with casting his friends and family as characters.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Colin has one of these, although he insists he isn't sick.
  • In Harmony with Nature: Colin is implied to be this.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Colin "tests" Tory by holding his hands like this in the park. He thought Tory had "attunement," based on his awareness of his surroundings, but what exactly that is has yet to be explained.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Out-of-universe. After the death of her father, Quick had spent much time downloading computer games to cope with her loss. Her computer was subsequently ravaged by a virus, causing her to lose the script, a hundred pages of storyboards, two complete chapters, and three penciled chapters of the final volume of Off*Beat.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Pleasantly subverted.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Both the leads fit this. Tory gets a little better. Colin doesn't.
  • Luminescent Blush: Tory gets a fair bit of this.
  • Nature Versus Science: Implied with Tory's skill at math and physics contrasted with Colin's association with plants, animals, and the Gaia Project, as well as his dislike of physics, which he feels is frustratingly "arbitrary."
  • Mind Screw: The author has drawn fanart of a fanfic of her own book. Make sense of that.
  • No Social Skills: Both protagonists, though Colin's got it worse.
  • Not Good with People: Colin, most likely a Type-2.
  • One Head Taller: Would be straight example... if not for the fact that Colin's height seems to keep changing. At one point he'll be a head shorter, then eye level with Tory, and then half a head shorter. All in the same volume.
  • Parental Abandonment: Colin lives with his guardian, Dr. Garrets.
  • Photographic Memory: Tory, although it isn't perfect, so he obsessively writes things down in his notebooks.
  • Redheaded Hero: Tory.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Tory's closet full of journals documenting everything that happens to him kind of comes off as this.
  • Screwed By The Publisher/TooGoodToLast
  • Shipper on Deck: Mandy seems to know there's something going on between Tory and Colin. On a slightly more malicious note, Mandy's friend Mira invokes this when she tells Mandy to 'give the newlyweds some space'. In her defense, Tory is kind of a huge jerk and had just blatantly ignored Mandy's attempt at small talk.
  • The Slacker: Paul, Tory's upstairs neighbor, a college student who tends to skip class and mooch off the Blakes.
  • Snow Means Love: Tory and Colin go to a bakery to get Colin's favorite cake. Guess what happens on the way back? Coupled with a short moment of Holding Hands.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Tory. First he keeps strange notes on the weird neighbor kid. Then he transfers to the weird neighbor kid's school. Then he sets up a study group in his physics class to spend time with the weird neighbor kid. He's aware that he's a creepy stalker and seems mostly fine with it, but it's unclear whether he's picked up on the crush part yet.
  • Super OCD: Tory, at least when it comes to his journals.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tory gets a succession of these as his obsessive behavior alienates his mother, Paul, and Mandy. He gets better, and then manages to accidentally bait his Love Interest into taking a swing at him. Go figure.