Beth and Ru present Az with a birthday present
|End Date||July 2010|
Started unofficially on deviantART in the summer of 2006, Bristled was given its own domain and website on 30 November. The comic was initially drawn in digital format consisting of black-and-white line art, with an occasional full-color comic. Due to the popularity of the colored version, it was then produced in full-color on a consistent basis. However, due to real-life constraints on the author, the comic has returned to a black-and-white format, with some gray shading included for added depth. Occasionally a full-color comic is still produced. It is created entirely in Adobe Photoshop, using a Wacom Intuos 9"x12" graphics tablet. In late 2008, the comic went on hiatus for some time and its website closed down. A new web host was found in late December of that year and the site was re-developed and archived, but little new content was added. In July 2010 Stephanie announced the end of the comic.
- Main article: List of characters in Bristled
Story and style
Bristled is usually shown using a typical four-panel layout, though in several episodes the layout has been increased to six panels, and in one case a total of twelve panels are used in a single episode. The characters are drawn in simplified forms, with strong lines and vivid colors. Speech appears over their heads in the typical comic-strip format, with the occasional narration in yellow rectangles.
The comic is set in the apartment that the three rent, but sometimes shows their various places of work. The time and place is a modern-day anthropomorphic USA; the locale is unspecified, but is generally considered to be an urban environment.
Though many of the episodes are self-contained "quickies," a few story arcs have also developed.
- The first story arc involved Azraelle's first day at her temp job, where she is required to use a co-worker's cubicle until one can be made ready for her. Later she rushes home during her lunch break to get her time card and finds herself distracted by snacks and an overwhelming urge to surf the Internet.
- In a later story, Beth confronts Azraelle about the lack of finances and suggests that they sacrifice the high-speed Internet access until they start pulling in more income. This causes Azraelle to object and suggest an alternate course of action: getting another roommate in order to relieve the strain caused by the rent money instead. As Beth is out applying for a job at the Post Office, Az interviews and agrees to let Ruac become the third roommate. When Beth comes home to find a naked Ruac in the apartment and Azraelle nowhere to be found, she calls Azraelle on her cell phone to find that she's out buying an online game (EverQuest II). After Beth finds out that Az tricked Ruac, she turns the tables on Az by having the high-speed Internet connection shut off anyway.
- In the Spring 2007 arc, Az finds Beth the next morning apparently suffering from extreme lack of sleep, mumbling about "the eyes." Taking her bed for the night, Az emerges a few hours later to find Beth terrorized by a strange figure in black. After whacking it with her trademark shovel, the creature takes the form of Ruac - unfortunately, the real Ruac turns up to spoil the fun. She appears to have power over the being, who she sends back to another dimension to "think about what it has done."
- When Beth receives an E-mail about the company summer picnic which states that she can bring a friend, she decides against telling Azraelle about it. Azraelle suspects something is up but is not sure what. She tells Ruac, who then enlists the help of the Shadow to secretly tag along with Beth to work, disguised as her left earring. However, after the Shadow realizes just how boring data entry can be, he takes it upon himself to wander away from Beth's ear. He inadvertantly causes a great deal of mayhem as Rodney trips and is knocked out while accidentally de-pantsing the Shadow, who has taken on Beth's form as a disguise. Artemis and Craig pursue the Shadow through the Post Office hallways, and culminating in the women's restroom. While Rodney faces being fired by the Suit for apparent sexual harrassment, Beth realizes that the Shadow has followed her to work and is causing all the problems around her. Striving to keep the Shadow's existence a secret and preventing Rodney's firing at the same time, she seeks help, only to be presented with a compensatory check for emotional damages that Rodney supposedly caused her. Before being given the choice to accept (and thus causing Rodney to lose his job) or turn it down with no proof of his innocence, a loud shriek is heard as Crystal discovers the unconscious body of Craig in the women's restroom.
- Simultaneously as the above plot, a smaller plot is being told in parallel back at the apartment, as Azraelle explains to Ruac about Beth's brief marriage to Frank. She first shows Ruac Beth's wedding photo, in which Beth appears moderately overweight. Azraelle explains that her husband was trying to save his family's weight-loss clinic from financial problems (and thus proving to his family that he deserves to inherit the business), when he was mysteriously contacted by a company selling black-market weight-loss products. Giving in to the prospect of making a lot of money, he promised to deliver the money needed in exchange for a wonder drug that allegedly caused dramatic weight loss results after taking only one pill.
Occasionally a special episode will be presented, labeled as "Bristled Lite." These segments are meant to be one-shots in which the author takes time to explain some piece of information, such as why the comic has taken so long to update. These episodes are generally not considered to be of the main, numbered procession of episodes (the author privately labels them by adding a B to the end of the last numbered episode).
Next to the Bristled Lite logo, a tag line often appears. Past episodes have had lines like "Now with half the effort!"; "Now Humor-Free!"; and "Recommended by that one doctor out of five who just HAS to be a trouble-maker!"
- The first episode of Bristled is actually number fourteen. There are a total of thirteen unpublished episodes that the author had created before renaming the comic to "Bristled," and two since. She has hinted that they may be completed and published at a later date.
- The comic was originally to be named Fur Real, and then later Fur Hire. Later, as Steph was working out character concept sketches, the name "Bristled" came to her after drawing an image of Azraelle with her fur bristled up.
- The apartment where Az, Beth, and Ru live is number '73.' This number was inspired from the apartment number of one of Steph's friends in real life.
- The characters Azraelle Wormser and Ruac Lycia are actually the names of two player characters used in the online game Second Life. The character of Azraelle belongs to the author herself, while Ruac Lycia is a friend; Bethany Morrison is the only main character that was created solely for the Bristled webcomic.
- The name Azraelle is a faux-feminization of the name Azrael, most commonly known as the Angel of Death. Rumor is that the author started using the name as an homage to a cat that she used to own, having the feminized name.
- In the episode "On Your Toes" Beth is seen in a fantasy sequence riding a motorcycle that is based on a Suzuki SV-650s.
- In the episode "Regarding Bethany," the image of Beth's security badge includes her employee number, 19771216. This is actually Steph's birthdate (December 16th, 1977).
- Episode 56, "T.K.O.", featured an Easter-egg drawing of a Head Crab from the Half-Life series of games located just above the logo; Steph has made several references to the game series throughout the comic.
- In the episode "Inner Conflict," two small figures that represent Beth's good and evil sides appear on her shoulders. The "good," who turns out was just there to find a good place to read, was in fact reading The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.