|Launch date||April 2010; rebooted July 2013|
|End Date||Original version in June 2013; reboot inactive since April 2016|
|Genre||Sci-fi, Comedy, Action/adventure|
Anthronauts is a sci-fi/action-adventure/comedy webcomic that was created, written and drawn by Nixie. A new strip was published each week on The Katbox. Originally created as part of an April Fools Day prank in 2010, Anthronauts was launched as a regular comic later that summer. The storyline follows the crew and passengers of the S. S. Bubbles, a charter spaceship that appears in the comic's logo.
By the summer of 2013, Nixie had become dissatisfied with the direction the comic was going in and announced a reboot in June. The new version began in July.
In April 2016, it was announced that the comic will no longer be updated due to lack of free time.
The Katbox holds a sitewide April Fools prank every year, and in 2010 the joke was that the site - which had three comics at the time - had abruptly taken on 11 more. As part of the joke, almost all of the new comics were cancelled within the day. Although it was one of the comics listed as "cancelled," Anthronauts was one of two new comics (iMew being the other) to actually continue.
Although Nixie would later say the series was meant to be a comedy, it was dominated early on by dark themes, such as Rexley's doomed marriage to Cheng's sister Meilin, and Boris' secret past. In June of 2013, dissatisfied with the series' tone, Nixie asked the Katbox forumites how they would feel about a reboot, and decided to go for it.
At the time of its conclusion, the original version of Anthronauts had 113 pages, all of which are still available on the comic's site page. This version of Anthronauts is now called Anthronauts: Alternate Reality.
Both versions of the story follow the adventures of Perrin Rexley (a fox) and Mandy Cheng (panda), respectively the pilot and captain of a small spaceship for hire, and their current client, Sir Boris Wimble (chinchilla), a mad scientist. In the rebooted version, the Bubbles is a much larger ship with additional crew, and Boris' cloned daughter Caroline (lynx) is a co-passenger.
The main cast are Pelzarians, citizens of Pelzar Tiges (shorted to "Pelzar" for the reboot). They are anthropomorphic animals who are shorter than humans. The original series showed Pelzarian technology to be lagging severely behind that of humans, and to be largely steampunk in nature. The reboot has emphasized this less.
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The original series narrative grew directly out of Nixie's April Fools comic. After Rexley, the pilot, eats the last of the food on the ship, Captain Cheng apologizes to Sir Boris and the trio stop to look for food on a nearby planet, Xenophobix 4. The three of them go for a walk, and Rexley agrees to carry a heavy bag that Boris brought with him. The bag purportedly contains "a F'glorbian squid corpse," but the squid is actually alive.
The Pelzarians (and squid) have a shootout with the Xenophobes, a race that resembles Amish insects, and escape back into space with no food. While on the ship, Captain Cheng is horrified to discover that Rexley has drunk the last of the ship's water, which is also the fuel. The ship runs out of power and the three of them retire for the night.
Boris appeals to Captain Cheng to have Rexley thrown into space for his cavalier attitude. Cheng tells Boris that Rexley is her brother in law and will not harm him. Boris, enraged by the crew, partially shapeshifts into a reptile and claws Rexley's door. Meanwhile, Rexly has a flashback dream of his honeymoon with Meilin Cheng, Captain Mandy Cheng's sister. Meilin died while she and Rexley were fighting space pirates, led by the ruthless Vom Korat, a five-eyed space vulture. Rexley awakes from the nightmare crying.
The ship continues its unpowered run to a Terran fueling station, but is intercepted by Captain Bob (human), of the S.S. Bob, who misidentifies the Bubbles as hostile and captures it. After being held for a time, and all made to wear metal bikinis identical to the one Princess Leia wears in Return of the Jedi, they escape after Boris fully shape-shifts and eats a crewmember, allowing them to get back to the ship, which has just enough fuel to be restarted.
They crash-land at the fueling station, enraging mechanic Parvani (a three-eyed naga) until they present her with treasure and ask for repairs. They end up fleeing the station after a short stay because Vom Korat has found them. Taking Parvani with him, he gives chase.
Back on the ship, Calimary covertly steals some of Boris' chemicals and uses them to regain her true, humanoid form. She brutally murders Boris - the page in which she does so was later established as a guideline by Katbox founder SoulKat as the maximum amount of gore he would allow on the site - and seduces Rexley. Captain Cheng finds them after the fact and throws Mary out the airlock in a fit of rage.
Boris manages to come back to life after his body reassembles. He explains that he and Calimary are both members of a little-known alien race called Alpha Draconians, a night-unkillable species whose life cycle involves destroying the biosphere of the occupied planet. He details his personal history, explaining how he was raised to believe he was a Pelzarian but stopped aging when he was 10. While doing research on himself with his cloned daughter, Caroline, he accidentally murders Caroline after she cuts his head off as part of the experiment.
Vom Korat catches up with the Bubbles and the two ships battle. They crash-land on a nearby water planet, and the narrative follows flashbacks in Captain Cheng's mind, which follow her extremely unhappy teenage years. She competes with Meilin for Rexley's affection, loses, and ends up sent to a home for disturbed girls after Meilin pulls a retribution prank on her that makes her look as if she had gone crazy.
At this point, Nixie openly declared on the forums that she felt the story had strayed too far from its comedic intentions. The original series' final page showed Nixie playing a tabletop role-playing game with Boris, Cheng and Rexley. Cheng quits the game, saying that Nixie is bullying their characters, a sentiment backed by the others. Boris points out that the nature of Alpha Draconians makes them effectively impossible to kill. In frustration, Nixie yells that all of them have slipped on a bar of soap and died. Boris tries to tell her this wouldn't kill an Alpha Draconian, but she cuts him off, yelling that it's a racial weakness .
The reboot was announced at the bottom of this page.
The introductory phase of the new comic was shown from the point of view of Caroline Wimble, Boris' daughter, the clone of a famous dead scientist. In the original story, Boris killed her when an experiment went wrong and he shapeshifted. In the reboot, as in the original, she is his lab assistant. The first story arc follows her as she attempts to find food for Boris after he shape-shifts following an experimental amputation to test his regenerative abilities.
For the reboot, most of the cast members were redesigned, to varying extents, both in appearance and personality. Because the reboot is still fairly new, it is not always clear what information from the original series is and isn't still canon.
Captain Mandala "Mandy" Lien-hua Cheng. A Pelzarian panda with a generally good disposition and a love of tea. Meilin - Cheng's sister and Rexley's wife - was removed from canon history for the reboot, as Nixie felt her presence made things too depressing.
Perrin Corley Rexley, night pilot. A gruff and conflicted loner in the original series, his personality in the reboot was lightened somewhat and he identifies himself as a "former pirate." In the original series, he was taken prisoner by pirates and joined them, but no elaboration has yet been given in the reboot. Reboot Rexley also has a rather thick accent original Rexley did not.
A running joke in the original Anthronauts was that wearing a red shirt meant certain death, as a nod to the redshirts of original Star Trek. Rexley's main color, pre-reboot, was red, and he indeed wore a red shirt (although in the earliest comics he wore a red waistcoat over a black shirt, a color scheme that was later reversed). Although a number of other characters in red died, he never did, and continually insisted that there was no such thing as a red shirt curse (although Boris and Cheng disagreed, as he would often narrowly escape death). In the reboot, his color is brown.
Sir Boris Dale Wimble, passenger. In the original series, Boris had managed to work out some details about his mysterious origins and had run into another of his kind, Calimary, who he was trying to control. In the reboot, Boris is still a chartering passenger on the Bubbles, but is no longer attempting to conceal his identity (though he knows less than in the original story). He simply represents himself (through his clone daughter, Caroline) as an unknown species, since even he doesn't know what he is. In the original series, his fur started off gray, but eventually became tan. He remains tan in the reboot.
The nature of Boris' "true" form is roughly the same in both versions of the story: He is a reptilian being who can shape-shift, and can regenerate lost limbs almost immediately. The regeneration takes a great amount of energy. In the reboot, if he lacks immediate access to food, Boris will shape-shift and go on a hunger rampage (his regeneration behavior in the original story was varied). In the first arc of the reboot, he attempts to eat Caroline (who escapes), and she later remarks to herself that "The last time we ran out of foot, it was awful. Boris ate all the neighbors!"
Parvani Na'in Pinar Naratavi, mechanic. Parvani, who had been a space station mechanic in the original story, became the ship's onboard mechanic in the reboot. She now lives in the engine room, which takes the form of an indoor forest with hot springs. Staight-laced in the original comic, Parvani is now a "semi-psychic" mystic who is a member of the cult of Odram. She tries to get Caroline to join, promising feasts and orgies, but Caroline is disturbed and uninterested. Parvani is a three-eyed, four-armed naga who was originally a solid, deep purple, which Nixie lightened in the reboot for aesthetic reasons.
Caroline Rosalind Wimble, lab assistant. Caroline is genetically a Pelzarian and not directly related to Boris. He cloned her from "a great scientist of the past," and raised her as his daughter. Caroline appeared on a single page in the original Anthronauts, a flashback wherein Boris describes accidentally killing her. In the reboot, she is still alive and is his lab assistant.
In both versions of the story, she is totally unfazed by gore and amputates parts of Boris to study his self-regenerating alien anatomy. Caroline also appears in another Nixie comic, Fungus Farm, which shares a continuity with the original version of Anthronauts.
Mary, originally Calimary, night pilot (reboot only). In the original version of the story, Calimary, like Boris, was an Alpha Draconian; he had sealed her into the form of a squid and erased her memory after an experiment went wrong. This was changed for the reboot, and she is simply an intelligent squid.
Johan Wyman Kissefello, security officer. The sole completely new member of the crew, Johan is a unicorn who has the ability to sense virgins, and declares that chastity is his favorite virtue. He is followed everywhere he goes by flower petals and sparkles.
Johan inherited the red shirt joke in the reboot and was murdered less than half a year into the reboot. However, he was quickly brought back to life, only to die (and again be revived) in the reboot's second year. Although his injuries can be permanent, death itself does not seem to convey any lasting damage. So far, the connection between a red shirt and probability of death has not been made overt in the new Anthronauts.
- Reboot notice!. Anthronauts. Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved on 2016-05-04.
- Anthronauts is going Inactive. Anthronauts. Archived from the original on 2016-05-04. Retrieved on 2016-05-04.
- Katbox forum thread about April Fools 2010
- Katbox forum thread about the reboot
- Forum post about gore limits
- "Final Boss Soap"
- Anthronauts: Alternate Reality, page 94
- Anthronauts on The Katbox
- Anthronauts on Twitter
- NixieSeal on deviantART
- NixieSeal on FurAffinity
- NixieSeal on tumblr