Tales of Gnosis College

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"No jokes, please. This is science in action".

Professor Corwin (admonishing one of his experimental subjects)

Tales of Gnosis College is an adults-only webcomic written by the pseudonymous "Dr. Faustus" and illustrated by Lon Ryden. It is set in the eponymous fictional mid-western liberal arts college. At Gnosis, the reckless, oversexed students are taught by a faculty rich in mad scientists, many of whom regard the students as convenient fodder for their experiments, or, as the case often is, sexperiments. In between (and sometimes through) bizarre sex scenes the comic also implicitly explores philosophical themes related to ethics and personal identity.

The first eight volumes of Tales of Gnosis College have been published in full. The ninth volume, Pharmacology, is being published as of this writing (Autumn 2015).

The webcomic, which posts on average a new page every day, is published under a Creative Commons license and made available for free at Dr. Faustus's website.

Tropes used in Tales of Gnosis College include:
  • Academy of Adventure.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Moira.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Gnosis College and its environs seem to be made of the stuff.
  • Author Appeal: Dr. Faustus unabashedly admits that mad science is Fetish Fuel for him, while Lon Ryden sure likes drawing naked women.
  • Badass: Pedro at the Omega initiation.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Poor Ashley.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Between the Sultan of Pazar, who speaks English, and an unfortunate Russian girl who speaks her own language.
  • Blob Monster: There is a bonus CG illustration sequence called Goo Girl Genesis in which a female undergraduate is turned into one of these as an experiment.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Professor Joseph Corwin is more than happy to lure female undergraduates into weird experiments the involve changing their state of matter or intimate contact with tentacle beasts, but he draws the line at using is technology to make duplicates of people, even when that would be handy. He's also intensely loyal to his own subordinate.
  • Bonus Material: Every chapter in the first volume has a pin-up of one of the female characters at the end, and Dr. Faustus has also commissioned and published a variety of art connected with his Gnosis College stories here.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Iris Brockman does this from the Chapter Three-ending pin-up of The Apsinthion Protocol to complain about the fact that her character didn't even get a name or a dialog line in the preceding chapter.
  • Calling Your Orgasms: Nanetta does this in an interior monologue at one point.
  • Combat Tentacles: Howard the Tentacle Beast manifests these near the end of The Apsinthion Protocol when Anwei is threatened by Senator Madder.
    • There's also an imagined panel of huge tentacles attacking an aircraft carrier.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: Howard's appearance (and name) hint at this, as does the name "Joseph Corwin."
  • Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Corwin and Anwei do this to escape from FBI custody.
  • Everytown, America: Pleasant Prairie, the fictional town in which Gnosis College is located, appears to be just an ordinary small American city.
  • The Exile: Corwin and Anwei and forced to flee the country after things go pear-shaped in Corwin's laboratory.
  • FBI Agent: Macneil and Smith.
  • Flash Back: The Victorian-era pendant story "The Strange Case of Millie Newman."
  • Flashback Effects: "The Strange Case of Millie Newman" is sepia-toned, as if it had been printed as well as set in 1888.
  • For Science!: Probably Joseph Corwin's primary motivation, and that of other characters as well.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In both directions at the Omega initiation.
  • Freaky Friday Flip: Willie and Professor Rebecca Waite achieve one of these through the use of drugs and hypnosis.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Senator Madder's "security detail."
  • Gratuitous Greek: In "The Strange Case of Millie Newman," a professor reads aloud a passage from Procopius in the original Greek. Millie scandalizes him by showing that she understands what he is saying. Corwin uses Greek to label things in his lab, and a prominent statue on campus has a line from Pindar (γένοι᾽ οἷος ἐσσὶ μαθών) on its pedestal.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Moira and Nanetta make one together.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Moira and Nanetta.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Special-Agent-in-Charge Macneil does this as a means of disposing of politically embarrassing evidence.
  • High-Class Call Girl: In Study Abroad Bridget O'Brian is one of these for a time as a voluntary member the Sultan of Pazar's harem.
  • Honey Trap: The mission Jill Keeney accepts on Monte Blanco.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The point of the bizarre and decadent restaurant where Iris Brockman takes a job.
  • I'm Melting: ...and I love it! An effect of Corwin's Apsinthion Device.
  • Initiation Ceremony.
    • The Omegas have one that is quite humiliating although not necessarily for those for whom it was intended to be humiliating.
    • Tondelayo and Cleo in Study Abroad undergo one that is horrific.
  • Insecurity System: It is surprisingly easy for Ashley to break into Professor Corwin's laboratory.
  • Jerkass: Senator Madder.
  • Jerk Jock: Biff certainly counts.
  • Kent Brockman News: Deep questions of human meaning, followed by sports. Moira and Nanetta learn something very important from it, though.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Ashley.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Joseph Corwin is a comparatively benign example, his colleague Dr. Emil Strangeways much less so.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: At least five examples in Chapter Five of The Apsinthion Protocol.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: The Sultan of Pazar in Study Abroad.
  • Masquerade: Most people think of Gnosis as just another elite college...
  • Naked on Revival: Professor Corwin's reconstitution technology just happens to work this way.
  • Naughty Nuns: Next door to Gnosis College there is an all-women's institution called St. Mary Magdalene College, run by nuns with some peculiar ideas about discipline.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Many examples, of whom Moira is probably the most salient.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Professor Corwin has naked coeds running around his laboratory on a regular basis, but he's focused on science.
  • Nubile Savage: Tondelayo in Study Abroad certainly counts, as do most of the other younger-than-middle-aged adults in her culture.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Before Jill Keeney joins it, the conspiracy to overthrow the hated dictator of Monte Blanco appears to consist of two people, one of whom is mute.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Macneil is the Old Cop, and Smith the Young.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Anwei's transformation.
  • Porn with Plot.
  • Police Are Useless: Neither the old-time constabulary nor the FBI in the present day Gnosis College fictional universe ever saves anyone from mad-science danger. Indeed, much of the time they're oblivious to the existence of dangers.
  • Professionals Do It on Desks: Willie and Professor Waite, apparently within a few minutes of their Freaky Friday Flip.
  • Quest for Identity: Averted with Iris Brockman, who is in no doubt about her identity in spite of her strange experiences. Some of her friends don't seem quite so sure, though.
  • Self-Sacrifice Scheme: In a pendant story, a Gnosis alumna and graduate student named Cassandra executes one of these, which involves arranging for herself to be Swallowed Whole by a mysterious, barely-seen creature. She implies in a final statement that she has a very serious reason for doing this, although it isn't specified for the readership.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Laura Sato-Bevilaqua is one salient example, and Ashley is another.
  • Shout-Out: Ashley has a poster of Irma Vep from the 1915 silent serial Les Vampires on her dorm-room wall, and Moira is often shown reading serious contemporary works of philosophy that have actually been published [1] [2] in the real world.
  • Sidekick: Anwei functions as one to Professor Corwin.
  • Sleazy Politician: Senator Madder.
  • Spooky Silent Library: The tenebrous "locked stacks" deep inside the main Gnosis College library.
  • Spy Catsuit: Ashley wears one of these to break into Professor Corwin's laboratory.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ashley for Corwin. It doesn't work out well.
  • Steampunk: "The Strange Case of Millie Newman," especially Professor Hoffmann's lab.
  • Strawman U: Largely averted. Gnosis is a successful college whose students come from a variety of backgrounds and points of view.
  • Swallowed Whole: Cassandra Kam, in a pendant story.
  • Taken for Granite: Poor Ashley, again.
  • Transformation Sequence: Anwei has very slow one, the beginnings of which only become evident at the end of Volume 1.
  • Tunnel Network: There is a set of tunnels designed to carry steam and other utilities under the Gnosis campus and its environs. Willie looks it up on old architectural plans and, with Aloysius's help, uses it to sneak into the neighboring Catholic women's college. This stunt leads to a fraught encounter with Naughty Nuns.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: The Omegas.
  • Weird Science: Professor Corwin's girl-liquefying Apsinthion Device, for starters.