|Launch date||January 18, 2009|
It's the end of civilization as we know it. A pandemic of a mutagenic virus followed by a global war fought with disintegration weaponry has left much of the planet Earth a desert of fine powder and what remains of humanity fragmented into humans, animal-like mutants and bloodthirsty monstrosities with lots of teeth.
The surface, still teeming with the mutagenic agent, has become the domain of the Topsiders; well-organized, technologically advanced, and heavily armed un-mutated humans intent on exterminating mutations of any kind in order to clear the way for the eventual resurgence of a new, genetically clean humanity.
Faced with annihilation, mutants and "impure" humans have retreated to various types of shelters to form communities and hope to win, or at least survive, what may prove to be mankind's final war.
Endtown is the continuing story of one of those communities.
In the near future, conflicts between various countries results in all of them launching a variety of weapons at each other all at once. The resulting unpredictable combination of side effects wiped out the majority of the population and turned most of the Earth's surface into a wasteland. The survivors were divided up into roughly two groups: those who became mutants (or were immune to mutations), and those not yet exposed to the mutagen. The first group, collectively known as "mutants", either roam the surface raiding city ruins for food, or live in survival bunkers. One such bunker, located a mile underground, is Endtown. The second group are the "Topsiders", highly prejudiced "pure humans" who live in an undisclosed location(s) and hunt mutants with the goal of ridding the planet of them. The Endtown story revolves around one group of mutants attempting to survive under these conditions.
The Endtowners, as they call themselves, spend most of their time in the underground city, with occasional forays to the surface to scavenge for food. Because of the effects of the post-War radiation, most protein-based foods have turned to dust, leaving only those items still in cans. At the time in which the story is set, six years after The End, cans of beans are all that remains in the ruins reachable by foot. Endtowners only have a synthetic "vitamin cake" and beans to live on. The lack of variety in their diet drives many of the Endtowners to desperation.
The mutagenics' effects do follow clear rules described by the author, though from the outside the effects appear unpredictable. Humans are often turned into monsters, though the luckier ones can become animals. Species shown so far include a Rhinoceros, several breeds of cats, mice, crabs, fish, dogs, cows and at least one worm. The more bizarre but benign mutations include a hunchback with a fish head that falls off (and presumably grows back), and the Oracle, a precognitive pool of water. There is a series of canals in Endtown to support the water supply and sewage carry-away, as well as providing the aquatic species a place to live. On the surface of the planet, the Topsiders wear sealed suits to protect them from the tainted atmosphere. If the suit is damaged, the victim begins to mutate within seconds.
In the story, Endtown is described as a form of commune where the inhabitants provide various services in return for housing and food. Most services are along the lines of working at a cafe, or acting as a doctor, police officer or main entrance gate security. Greater rewards are offered for Topside scavenging missions, but the odds of not surviving one of these missions is very high.
Topsiders hunt mutants as part of their eugenics campaign for two known reasons: to eliminate them from the planet and to put their brains into machines such as the transport vehicles, blaster guns, and robot tracking devices called "Multi-Use Terrestrial Trackers" (AKA: "mutts").
Although the warring countries at The End used many different kinds of weapons, only two have been described in the story so far.
Amesworth Radiation, a form of radiation harnessed by the inventor Sam Sanders for Apex Industries. Amesworth radiation is used in ray guns and disintegration beamers. As mentioned in the comic, if the radiation is strong enough it will disintegrate anything. At lower levels it only affects organic matter. (Twinkies are thus identified as inorganic). It is named after its discoverer - Dr. Eden Amesworth, who Sanders may have actually met at one time.
The Mutagenic Virus has not been explained in any detail so far and may not actually be a virus. This is the thing that turns humans into mutants, and is present throughout the planet. Generally it is referred as "the mutagens". It's questionable as to whether the mutagens were initially intended as a weapon, or if it was accidentally leaked from somewhere. If a human is unconscious when exposed to the mutagens, they turn into an anthro. If awake, they morph into a monster.
So far, monsters have ranged from what appear to be pools of goo, to things like a big octopus and really large hungry shapes. To date, only one type of monster has been identified by name.
Dittos or pixel monsters are microscopic creatures that act like semi-intelligent monitor pixels. When millions of them work together, they are capable of displaying any image they want as either an illusion, a mirage or a hallucination. Images can be of other monsters, vehicles, people or of simple, vast open space. As shown in the Gustine quest arc, dittos live in "nests", and are susceptible to raygun blasts. As shown in the flashback sequence with Sparkplug Sanders, dittos can read people's memories and play them back in full 3-D. So far, they have not demonstrated the ability to produce sound. Topsider Personnel Transporters identify them as "vermin" and have protection systems in place for killing them.
So far, the Endown story has taken place primarily around the Endtown bunker, meaning that little is known about the rest of the planet. There are essentially 5 locations or entities that have been highlighted as of April 4, 2012.
Endtown is one of many mutant outposts that have sprung up following The End. It is a bunker 1 mile underground, with at least one entrance elevator somewhere in the unmarked Great Waste.
The Great Waste (AKA: Topside.) These are the dust-filled barren lands that cover the planet, at least in the area around Endtown. "Topside" is the term used by Endtowners to distinguish activities outside of the bunker. We have not yet been told what the Topsiders call themselves, or what they call the areas outside of their own colonies. There are various ruins scattered across The Great Waste containing intact buildings and/or roads.
Hillside was actually one large country sprawling across this part of the continent. Endtown is located within the Hillside boundaries. When the number of spontaneous mutations started escalating, all warring countries accused the others of being the source cause and launched their weapons at each other, triggering The End. Sparkplug Sanders was living in one of the suburbs of Hillside that had remained relatively intact after The End. The 2010-01-21 strip shows that one of Hillside's opponents was the Eastern Alliance.
Bordavia was a warzone neighboring Hillside. Wally Wallechinsky was an engineer working for Apex Industries stationed in Bordavia prior to The End, helping design new schools. He was also assigned as a soldier to patrol the area with other members of his group.
Apex Industries is a multinational conglomeration with factories in Hillside. Their logo was a triangle with a small circle inside, and their slogan was "Apex, making the world safe". Sparkplug Sanders worked for Apex as a researcher and was the one to harness Amesworth Radiation for use in blasters, disintegrators and Zero Bombs. Wally Wallenchinsky also worked for them as an engineer designing new schools in Bordavia. Apex drones fighting "rebels" then destroyed the school for Wally to rebuild. Apex also produced the large-scale disintegrators used at Pep Cola stadium for "cleansing" the sporadic mutations that surfaced in Hillside leading up to The End. The field suits used by Wally and his fellow soldiers in Bordavia are similar to those used now by Topsiders, and the Apex logo closely resembles that of the Topsiders' reversed triangle inside a large circle. Part of Sparkplug Sander's flashback takes place in the Apex offices in Hillside.
As of April, 2012, only five of the Topsiders have been identified by name - "Jim", "Ian", "Bill", "Doug" and "Linda" and four of the five didn't last long, Linda being the exception. Most of the named characters live in Endtown, while one was an inhabitant of a Topside city called Hillside, and another is a nomad bumming around in the Waste of the surface.
Albert Anderson, a tall, lean, lanky black-haired male. Al is one of the few people to have kept his human form after being exposed to the mutagen. He starts out as the main lead in the story, scavenging one of the ruins for food. He lives with Gustine, and is friends with Professor Mallard. Al is resourceful and a quick thinker.
Sam "Sparkplug" Sanders, formerly an engineer working for Apex Industries in Hillside. He's the one that realized that Amesworth Radiation had military capabilities. He also refused to proceed on the work any further and was removed from the project. He then focused on finding a way to make himself and his family immune to the radiation. Unfortunately, he was a little too late, having bombarded himself with some kind of energy just before his partner, Agnes, and their daughter, April, were mutated. He is shown having killed the monster Agnes had become, after she had eaten April. He's then essentially immortal following The End, living alone in Hillside, being tormented by the "dittos" which keep replaying his memories for him every night. Sparkplug is last seen falling from a building several hundred feet up and is presumably killed by the impact.
Petey is a brain that had been "wiped" and wired into a Topsider transport vehicle. Initially, he was pretty satisfied with being a truck. He was given his name by Al, derived from "Personnel Transport" (PT). He has virtually no memories of his past life, but he does at least recognize "Blackie", and was eventually put into Professor Mallard's robot to be taken to Endtown. He is currently insanely strong, and can fly using his "hat" and wheel "propellers". When told that Flask was going to wipe out an entire Topsider colony as a "gift" for him, Petey balks at the idea of killing young children and noncombatants, even if they are the enemy. Rather than bonding in any way with Flask, Petey has fallen in love with another Transport.
Aaron Marx has been described in email conversations with Neathery as being his Tom Bombadil character. So far, very little is known about Marx beyond that he travels in a ship dangling from a balloon, salvaging scrap from the surface. He can walk on air using "string theory", "has no need for sleep" and is able to exert control over dittos. He appears to be an unmutated human wearing 1800's formal wear and spats.
Gustine Greene is a 700 pound rhinoceros suffering from schism syndrome. Because she has not yet adjusted to being a rhino with poor eyesight and little patience, Gustine consults an oracle for advice on how to turn back human. She is then given a quest to go to Hillside for the fruit of a plant that supposedly has mystic properties. At the end of the arc, she remains a rhino. In a flashback (2009-05-19 strip) she is shown to have been a short, stocky black woman prior to The End.
Professor Nikolai Xavier (N.X.) Mallard, Ph.D, a duck and the resident mad scientist responsible for keeping Endtown running and for creating the hand-cranked blasters used by the Endtowners to protect themselves Topside.
Capt. Philomena (Blackie) Flask. Flask is a large cat currently acting as the chief of Endtown security. She is ruthless, unforgiving, and driven by nightmares of her life prior to coming to Endtown. In the 01/18/12 strip, she is identified as the ex-chief architect of the Topsider's spy satellite rocket project, making her a former Topsider and engineer/scientist. She was killed by an exploding gun, and reawakened in an intermediate state where she was relocated by Marx in the 2012-8-16 strip. Flask revealed to Marx that Petey was formerly a mostly-human man who was being experimented upon by Topsiders before she secretly freed him; the two fell in love and she resolved to take off her biosuit (she had been disgusted of remaining a Topsider), joining Petey outside and allowing him to puncture her suit while she slept. When she woke and had taken off her helmet, Petey had disappeared, and Flask was found and taken captive by Topsiders who then tortured and surgically removed her tail. In response, she injected her captors with the Mutagenic virus, turning them into monsters while she escaped. She applied for the job of Endtown security chief, and she ultimately found Petey's brain, finding out that Petey had been taken captive by the Topsiders and stripped of his body (Neither her nor Petey's prior faces have been shown as of yet). After telling her story, Marx restores her tail and removes the "cancer" of her torture.
Jacob (Jake) Jackrabbit, a reporter for the Endtown newspaper, is also the leader of an anti-human association. His fear and loathing of humans (mutated or not) mirrors that of the Topsiders towards anthros. Jake holds "self-acceptance seminars" which are really recruiting sessions for his lynch mob. In Jake's association, changing one's last name to that of one's anthro type shows that you've come to terms with being an anthro.
Wally Wallechinsky is a cat suffering from schism syndrome living in the ruins Topside, with something of a deathwish. He tries to keep to himself, but is forced into coming to Endtown, where he gets jumped by two mutants desperate to get whatever food he brought from the surface. Hospitalized with a cerebral contusion, he is tended by Doc Chase and Holly, and relieved of his syndrome symptoms by Holly. The two of them fall in love. In a flashback starting with the March 28, 2012, strip, we learn that Wally had been an engineer with Apex, designing schools in the battle zone bordering Hillside, and that all Apex employees eventually carry a gun in the field as soldiers.
Holly Hollister, a 30-year old female mouse working as a waitress at an Endtown cafe. She unexpectedly finds herself being responsible for helping Wally after he gets hospitalized. Holly is a fast runner and fully adapted to her life as a mutant ("after having discovered the joys of Camembert"). She helps Wally adjust to being a cat, and the two of them fall in love. She then follows Wally Topside for the mission in the "Countdown" arc.
Linda Kowalski (team leader of Beta 51), the only Topsider so far to last more than 10 strips, first appears in "Countdown". Little is known about her personal life yet, other than that she has a son (living in Pine Valley, Dome 3). She had been partnered with "Doug", a 17-year-old Topsider that had been blasted by Flask. Flask then proceeded to attempt to torture her by puncturing a weak spot near the ear protector of her suit to turn her into a rampaging monster to kill. However Wally stunned Linda in time, allowing her to mutate, unconscious (thus supporting "Cooper's Rule" that unconscious people turn into anthros) into a koala. Linda was unaware that the rocket she and Doug were guarding was a fake.
A Fistful of Beans
Introduction to the universe of "Endtown". Al and a partner are topside raiding a store for supplies when the partner attempts to join the Topsider ranks, with fatal results. Al returns to Endtown by himself and must face the wrath of the mob for bringing back more beans. His friend Prof. Mallard has to step in to sell the Endtowners on the benefits of the hated legume.
Gustine suffers from the fear that she will turn feral as a rampaging 700-pound rhino, and asks an oracle for advice. This results in her and her partner, Al, traveling to the ruins of Hillside City to obtain the fruit of a tree that can solve her problems. Along the way, they befriend Petey and run afoul of the pixel creatures (AKA: Dittos) that have been tormenting Sparkplug Sanders.
While fighting Sparkplug, Al needs to rescue Gustine and is killed in the process. Gustine then uses the fruit to save Al, and thus is satisfied in staying as she is. On the way back to Endtown, Gustine, Al and Petey are attacked by Topsiders. Petey is left behind, and Al and Gustine are set up to look like spies leading the Topsiders to Endtown.
This leads to an investigation by Capt. Flask intended to find the two as traitors. However, a second trip to the surface reunites Flask and Petey with the revelation that the two used to be partners before Petey was turned into a truck. The arc ends with Petey getting a new body, Al and Gustine being declared innocent, and Flask brooding on her sins.
The Ballad of Holly and Wally
Wally is a rambling man-cat satisfied with fending for himself in the wastes of Topside. An encounter with Topsiders changes his life and ultimately he is forced to enter Endtown, where he is jumped by two inhabitants hoping to steal any fresh food that he may be carrying. Left with a cerebral contusion, Wally is brought to a hospital by Holly, a mouse waitress who is the only one in Endtown willing to stand by his side. Wally is conflicted about being a human trapped in a cat body and Holly attempts to help him come to terms with his instincts. They find themselves attracted to each other at the end.
The Topsiders build a rocket near Endtown to launch a spy satellite. Knowing that an "eye in the sky" would spell certain doom for the Endtowners, Security Chief Flask assembles a small suicide squad consisting of herself, Petey and wildcard Wally, to sabotage the rocket. However, things get complicated and Flask ends up hijacking a flying ship to crash it into the Topsider output instead.
At the moment, Endtown is available in electronic format, and the first print two volumes can be ordered from Jarlidium Press. A short 22-page print comic produced for Comicpalooza, is available for purchase directly from Aaron.