August 19 – 25, 2013

Warning:  very long blurb follows.  It may be easier to read in the comments section, in which it won’t appear as white text on a black background.

It is once again time to score this week’s contest entries.  There weren’t many this time around, but we did get entries from Mercenary Pen, Dances With Fish, Erwaro, Quasihumanist, Nobilis, and Emily.  All of them advanced theories as to what Casey’s revelation might be (this week, anyway).  They were working on the following scheme:  three points for a correct answer, two points for the most diabolically ingenious answer, and one point for guessing that Casey would squirm out of revealing anything (as long as that turned out to be correct).  The results:

1)  The actual revelation is that Casey doesn’t have any idea how old he is because he doesn’t, in fact, remember who he is.  The memories he got back last year have now become so confusing and fragmented that he can’t be sure that they’re real.

2)  No one got this.  However, Erwaro actually came kind of close:

Casey will want, very badly, to remain his old reticent self. He recognizes, however, that things haven’t been working. And so he proposes a bargain. He offers to tell Marie everything, but with two caveats. First, “Everything” covers only what he remembers that is relevant to his relationship with her (not in that sense, you know what I mean), which may not be much. And second, for that information, Marie has to help him get all of his memories back, as well as properly sorted out. And the deal doesn’t include anything he re-learns in that way, though he might (MIGHT) be willing to part with slightly more.


His revelation won’t be everything (duh), but it will hit a few crucial points, including the fact that Casey has been around, in some form or other, for a LONG time, mostly because of supernatural reincarnation abilities that will probably never be fully, or at all, explained. Based on what he can remember, he THINKS that he probably made contact with Marie after the fire, based mainly on her hallucination and the fact that it seems to be the sort of thing he would do. He thinks also that he was lying to her for a long time, though he doesn’t now remember for sure, nor does he remember anything about what he was lying about. I mean, yeah, the whole supernatural reincarnation thing, but there was more to it than that.


In other words, revelations that mostly open up a huge can of worms, and a pact, such as it is, to find out more, with a tacit understanding that when and if they succeed, Casey won’t reveal anything else.

Casey hasn’t admitted to extreme age, but he has admitted to not knowing his age, and since he seemed to be a full-grown man rather than a fifteen-year-old boy in Marie’s hallucination, there may be some implications of agelessness there.  He has also more or less admitted that he may have been lying to Marie, though accidentally, since he doesn’t remember her from ten years ago.  He and Marie haven’t made a deal to get his memories back, but they seem to be having a conversation in which they try to puzzle out what’s going on, and that’s really a first for Casey.  So though Erwaro’s answer isn’t exactly correct, it’s close enough for jazz.  Erwaro has thus earned three points.

3)  The other answers are all quite creative, but two stand out, one for its logic and the other for its insanity.  First, there’s Emily’s guess:

I think Casey will reveal that he himself, a very long time ago, had a deal with the Devil. In this deal, he has gained immortality (and potentially other powers). What he has not realized is that the powers granted to him did not extend to improving his memory to cope with the centuries and centuries of memories he has accumulated (deals with the Devil often being tricky). To gain help, Casey has endowed Niko with some of his powers in return for Nico’s loyalty. Nico is bound by same of the conditions that bind Casey. Perhaps due to his degenerating memory, at some point after giving powers to Nico, Casey has failed to keep some condition of the deal, and is now damned to torment in Hell. However, he can be temporarily released if he finds someone else willing to make a deal with the Devil.

Of course, being Casey, he will not reveal all of this. He will only admit to having made a deal with the Devil a long time ago and having memory problems.

I agree with Tuxgeo that this is an excellent theory.  It may or may not be true, but it’s very clever.

Then there’s Nobilis’s guess:

Casey will reveal something – but it will be mostly lies.

Sometime these days, he will say to Marie: “No, I am your father.” Which would be possible, as he has been around for a LONG time. And of course Marie’s parents aren’t her real parents – in a story, they never are, even your aunt and uncle aren’t really your aunt and uncle (only if it’s your second and third cousin, once removed, then it might be true and you weren’t exchanged by elves after all).

BUT: Casey is lying, as usually. Marie’s real father is a backward aging pirate living in another universe, which can be reached through a vortex in the couch in the basement (which is why Marie is so attached to that place).


And: Marie’s memories are wrong, that’s why she has so much trouble with them. When crawling through that “tunnel” in the burning house, the real Marie Dumont went through a portal to fairy-tale world, where she now works for Frau Holle as Pechmarie (having grown up in the 20th/21st century, she doesn’t know how to deal with a fairy-tale household). The Marie we know came through the other way, escaping thraldom in Frau Holle’s household. To cover this up, Marie’s memories have been tampered with, resulting in her annual crisis when the real memories try to break through. Even when deciding to confront her memories, Marie couldn’t go further back than the tunnel – for obvious reasons. Casey is, of course, also from fairy-tale world and followed Marie – only time will tell whether he means well or not, but given that he is the fairy-tale devil the probability lies strongly on one side. Quite a number of other WoB characters come also from fairy-tale world, through different portals and with different amount of memories. Barbara, for example, knows that Casey is the devil.

She had me at “exchanged by elves.”  Nobilis knows my love of fairy tales well.

Emily and Nobilis have won two points apiece.

4)  The other three guesses are fun too.  Dances With Fish builds on a pre-existing foundation:

I’ll go with my previous theory. Casey’s going to reveal that Marie has been Satan the whole time, but she had traded places with Casey way back in the day. Casey tracked her down and decided to try and trick her at the hospital by pretending that he wanted to trade places with her (possibly actually switching bodies) for a while rather than a regular deal. In fact, once they traded places, she’d be stuck forever since it would really be a switch back.


Then again, the rumors could be true and Casey could really be a Time Lord stuck in some alien child’s fairy tale construction. (This isn’t a serious guess. It would just be awesome.) (This is not part of the contest. I just couldn’t help myself.)

Do click on the link.  You will be amused.

Mercenary Pen’s guess is short and sweet and reminiscent of The Neverending Story (the book, not the film):

Casey’s going to reveal that he’s been relentlessly selling his memories in exchange for a better life.

Quasihumanist’s guess is shorter and sweeter and reminiscent of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Casey will vanish in a puff of logic.

Dances With Fish, Mercenary Pen, and Quasihumanist have earned one point each.


Nobilis is still in the lead, albeit by only one point.  Will Erwaro or some other intrepid soul come from behind?  We shall see…


Summer Contest #9

We’re nearing the end of the summer.  Two weeks from now, school will be starting again.  This will therefore be our second-last contest; we’ll have a grand finale with #10.  I promise sincerely that I won’t go by Quidditch rules (i.e., the final contest won’t have 150 points up for grabs, thus negating the entire point of the other nine contests).

We’ll have another guessing game for this contest, but a less involved one so that busy people can participate.  Everybody gets ONE (multi-part) guess this time.  You may repeat what other people say.  Answers must be posted in the comments section before midnight on Sunday, August 25th.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the comic that is going to come after West of Bathurst.  I can now reveal that it will be set in the same universe (i.e., its world will be consistent with the WoB world; it doesn’t mean that WoB characters will be wandering in and out all the time, but it does mean that Davies College will exist in the world of the new comic, even if it never actually appears in it).  The new comic will be rather more obvious about its not-quite-realistic qualities than WoB is.  If you read it, you’ll probably still want to kill me, but for entirely different reasons.

The protagonist is connected in some way to one of the major WoB characters.  Your job is to answer the following questions:

1)  Which character will the new protagonist be connected to?  (1 point)

2)  What kind of connection is it?  (1 point)

3)  Approximately how old will the new protagonist be?  (up to 2 points for reasons I shall not currently disclose)

4)  It is just possible that the new protagonist may have turned up very briefly–twice–in WoB.  If you find and link to at least one of the relevant comics, you will receive 2 points.

Here’s the rub:  if anyone gets any of these details right, I will confirm them.  If no one gets a certain detail–or all three details–right, I won’t reveal them myself.  So this is an opportunity for you to get a mild teaser for the new strip…but only if someone correctly guesses the relevant information.

Summer Contest Points Thus Far:

Earthgirl 1
Dances With Fish 4
Nobilis 9
Erwaro 8
Laura 5
Preethi 2
Lumair 5
Fan 2
Mercenary Pen 2
Tuxgeo 4
Errol 3
Tarina 2
Emily 2
Quasihumanist 1

37 thoughts on “August 19 – 25, 2013

  1. I see all. I’ve invested in a shiny new crystal ball. It’s disguised as a jar of jam, but it’s really a crystal ball, and it lets me see the future, as long as it doesn’t matter all that much. For instance, I can’t win millions in the lottery, but I can win hundreds, as long as I don’t do it too often. Why, it’ll only take me three or four years to pay off my student loans at this rate! Anyway, I digress. I have seen the future of the new comic-thing. The connections are as follows:

    The new protagonist will be connected to Barbara Mickel. It is a family connection. More specifically, Barbara’s niece. I thought it was her younger sister at first- there’s a few things with the airport trip that I can’t quite parse. Presumably, either there was a whole family gathering and the next protagonist (who I will refer to as “Squirt”) wanted to go see Barbara right away, or else Barbara was spending the holidays with her sister, and Squirt’s hair got redder for some strange genetic reason. Possibly both.


    Squirts current age is fairly young- pre-teen, certainly, and a bit younger than that- I’ll go with 7, but that’s mainly to give an idea of what I’m talking about. The age when a lot of people are still pretty full of awe and optimism, as well as a lot of curiosity. A bit before cynicism usually takes hold, though. The reason for two points here is that, although Squirt is currently that age, when the new comic starts, Squirt will be significantly older. Among other things, Squirt won’t be a remotely appropriate nickname. Oh, well. I’ll work with what I’ve got to work with. I’m gonna guess that when the new comic starts, Squirt is…24. This doesn’t work terribly well with maintaining a consistent timeline between the strips, unless there’s going to be a LONG delay between the comics (there won’t be, right?) However, 24 seems like the right age for the sort of comic the new one will turn out to be. Squirt, showing wisdom beyond her years, listens to Barbara about the horrors of grad school and doesn’t go- when we first meet her, she’s struggling just trying to find where the corporate ladder is, instead. It’s hard to climb what you can’t see.

    Anyway. and

    And, for contest-related reasons that have nothing to do with the contest, I find myself fighting to keep my mouth shut. Be quiet, self!

  2. I am glad you liked my theory.

    What I really wanted to do was to find a theory with absolutely no supernatural elements in it whatsoever – but I could not figure out anything that would include Casey being able to see Evil Marie. I could account for little details like Casey’s agelessness and super-human talents (btw, are we going to find out more about Casey’s job at the hospital?) by imagining that there were actually several Caseys of different age (brothers? or maybe even clones?), but Casey interacting with Evil Marie made all these theories fall apart. I would find it very satisfying if your story had no supernatural elements in it in the end, but I don’t think that is where you are going.

  3. Actually, I think it still IS possible to find a non-supernatural theory. What if Marie is hallucinating Casey’s conversations with Evil Marie? Granted, there have been some times Evil Marie and Casey have been alone, but we know Marie’s told people about Evil Marie. What if Casey has adopted Evil Marie (as per Marie’s description) as a sort of annoying imaginary friend, or even sees her as a hallucination of his own? Meanwhile, his interactions with HIS Evil Marie have prompted Marie’s imagination to conflate the two entirely separate Evil Maries into one; she thus sees Casey as interacting with HER Evil Marie and maybe even imagines the aspects of their conversations that make it appear they’re both simultaneously interacting with the same imaginary person.

    I HAVE thought this out. I don’t actually think there are any elements of the comic, up to and including the fires, that can’t be explained away via convoluted Erwaro-type logic. Even the apparent agelessness has an explanation. We still don’t know for sure that Marie really did see Casey ten years ago, and plenty of people look as if they’re in their twenties well into their thirties. At any rate, Casey’s I.D. card is pretty clearly fake.

    Re. the hospital job: I haven’t forgotten about it. I have a LOT of balls in the air at the moment, and I just hope I can get through this without dropping too many.

  4. But, I thought that Evil Marie has let Casey into Marie’s apartment once – or did I misremember that? Of course, Casey could have just picked a lock.

    I suppose you can explain just about anything if you just imagine that everyone is halucinating in synch. But that feels too far in the ‘it was all a dream’ direction, so I have rejected it.

  5. In that particular scene, there’s no reason Marie herself couldn’t have let Casey in without realising it. Her hold on reality is a bit shaky at that point.

    I would wager that Casey would be imagining the conversations rather than hallucinating them. The “everything is realistic” interpretation does assume that he’s a bit delusional, but his relationship with Evil Marie has always struck me as rather matter-of-fact, as if he’s not surprised she’s there. Either he’s used to talking to other people’s hallucinations or he’s not surprised by her because he’s deliberately made her up as a coping mechanism. I don’t like the idea of everybody hallucinating in synch either, but I can see Marie hallucinating that everybody is hallucinating in synch. I think I’m starting to confuse myself now.

  6. I was going to suggest Squirt, but Erwaro beat me. Anyway, I didn’t remember the second strip she’s in, so i thought she was Barbara’s younger sister. Now I need a new theory. Guessing the same as Erwaro would be boring for the contest.
    Let’s see, which other rare characters have we met …

  7. Okay, so that everybody doesn’t drown in confusion, here is how Barbara’s family is structured:

    “Squirt,” as she appears in the second comic Erwaro links, is Barbara’s niece. The woman with her is Barbara’s older sister (about eight years older, I think).

    In the first comic Erwaro links, neither of those girls is Squirt; they are Squirt’s younger sisters. Squirt was about eight in the 2006 comic, so she was around fifteen by 2013. Squirt and her two younger sisters have also briefly appeared together in the comic proper.

    Yes, I am always keenly aware that people do actually age. I know it’s hard to tell with the grown-ups, but my kids get older, damn it all anyway. Sunrise, sunset…yadda yadda yadda…

  8. Nobilis: Good point, but I’m going to have to leave that one up to you. It’s all part of the SADISTIC FUN.

  9. OK, I’m playing this one to lose. My guess is: the Hostess in the taxidermist’s shop, appearing here:

    Question 1: Connected to? Marie (because the hostess got the chance to say, “Oh, you know.” to Marie. That, of course, is Casey’s line; so none of the other characters would let the hostess get away with that.

    Question 2: The nature of the connection: The hostess is another one of Casey’s diabolical “victims-without-infernal-pact,” except she managed to recover, and she sympathizes with Marie for what Marie is going through in that episode.

    Question 3: Age of this guessed character: Mid-to-late 30’s.

    Good News and Bad News: The Hostess turned up twice (that I can see); but so did the hobo on the street, who said, “Hey . . . Tentacles!” ( ).
    Otherwise, I’ll let the others fight this out among themselves.

    Problems with this guess:
    (1) the Hostess is at least as much connected with Casey as with Marie;
    (2) the Hostess might be hallucinatory, and therefore not a real character;
    (3) the Hostess does not give any evidence whatsoever of being able to play the ‘ukulele at all.

  10. Ok, that explains it. The age thing was bugging me- I kept thinking “Well, on the one hand, these are the two times I remember young-barbara-family-member showing up, and the clothes are even roughly the same color…on the other hand, she looks younger, if anything, in the newer comic.” So I’m not at all surprised that I was wrong about that. Fortunately, my guesses were vague enough to cover both of them, as well as the third sister. Or niece? How do you refer to someone in this situation? I’m talking about her sisters, but the only person who I can actually give a name to is Barbara…see, this is why I majored in math. Although I suppose that the age thing might not…it depends on how vague we can be. “Childhood” covers all three, but Squirt is no longer at a point where you could really be forgiven for guessing 7 if you’d actually seen her…

    If it’s kosher, I’d like to change my guess for the first age to “15”. Or possibly just “childhood”. The second age should still be fine- if anything, I’m more confident of it now.

    Now, where did I miss these three in the comic proper…?

  11. Erwaro: You may change your age guess, since it maybe wasn’t clear that there were actually three nieces (the comic you haven’t found yet does make it obvious that there are). Do pick one of the three, and at the very least, specify an age range; “childhood” is kind of vague. If you’re sticking with “Squirt,” math says that she’s currently about fifteen. You can probably at least generally guess the ages of the other two.

  12. Alright, I’ll go with 15, then. Childhood is pretty damn vague, although part of me wants to argue “Oh, come on, if I guessed 50 and it was 60, you’d let me have it! Why not 9, and thus 0-18?” The answer, of course, is because there’s a serious and obvious physical and mental difference between, say, 5 and 15. There’s no real chance of guessing one when the other is the correct answer.

  13. …oh! I found it. Should I post it? Or should I leave it for others to find?


    I guess I’ll leave it for others to find. It seems more fair that way. Just so that I can find it again myself: Minus 9, Plus 0, Plus 25

  14. Ah, the taxidermist was my next idea. So I still need another one … Ah! I’ll stick with “Barbara’s sister”. But not a kid sister, as I thought first.
    The protagonist of your next comic will be Barbara’s elder sister. Barbara is 36 now; if her sister is 8 years older, she’s 44 – but the new comic will beginn two years in the past, so that she will be 42.
    She’s seen here:

  15. A very random guess …
    The new protagonist is Casey’s mom.
    She is both mid-forties (external appearance) and extremely old.
    This is likely wrong as she has probably “appeared” more than twice through Casey’s phone conversations.

  16. 1) Rahim
    2) College friend
    3) About 25?
    4) ???

    You call this an *easy* contest that doesn’t take as much time?! If I had time, I’d go through the whole archive!

  17. …an easy contest that doesn’t take that much time unless you’re really, really determined?

    To be fair, I wrote the “easy” bit before I had the brainwave about sending you after old comics. I should really have removed the initial description of the contest as “not taking much time.”

  18. Well, you can just post a random comic and hope to get lucky- nothing says that anything you guess has to be connected to the rest of your guess.

    I also feel that people should guess more things. I’m pretty confident of my guess, but what if I’m wrong? I feel a compelling NEED for spoilers. SPOILERS! SPOILERS GOOD! ME NEED SPOILERS!

    Actually, there’s no rule about how many comics you can post…so I suppose you could just post the link to the archive page, and claim two points automatically. Something tells me Kari wouldn’t go for that, but you never know.

  19. I think it’s going to be Fred’s girlfriend. Fred more-or-less qualifies as a major character, since he is on the character sheet. So the answers are

    1. Fred
    2. A romantic one
    3. She will be in her mid-to-late twenties, but a major part of the new comic’s plot line will take place in her past, perhaps via flashbacks

    I am guessing this because: You have a tendency to think a lot about your plots and characters even before you have firm plans to do something about them. You originally thought that Fred would be a more major part of W of B which means you might have very well fleshed out a whole story about his girlfriend. She does not live in TO so it makes sense that Davies would not appear in the comic. AFAIK she appears in the comic twice.

  20. Sorry about the double post. I thought it had not gone through and tried to do it again (but shorter, because I was feeling too lazy to retype everything).

  21. You’ve just managed to confuse the hell out of me. Congratulations. Or can you edit your posts? Perhaps that would explain some portion of this…

  22. Erwaro: I don’t think I can edit my posts. After I posted post number 23, I changed to a different computer. For some reason, when I looked at the comment board, my post did not appear, so I thought it was lost. I quickly wrote a new one, 24, summarizing what 23 had said, before I forgot… and then I realized that 23 was there after all, so I posted 25 to explain why the information from 23 is posted again in 24. I suppose that 24 is not really a double post in the exact meaning of this phrase.

    Does that even make sense? oh, well.

  23. It makes sense, but doesn’t match up with what I see. Unless maybe you’re referring to something other than the numbers on the side? I see your double post-apology post as #23, followed by me being confused, followed by you trying to relieve the confusion. So this would be 26 unless someone else posts first. Maybe I’m just crazy- it wouldn’t surprise me much.

  24. Yeeeeeeeeeesss…the confusion has arisen because Emily’s first post needed to be moderated by me (this generally happens when there are links in the post), and as I was at Fan Expo, I didn’t see it until just now. Emily’s original post is now visible above.

  25. I might as well keep sending in silly entries to the summer contest:

    1) Marie
    2) The character will be Evil Baby Evil Baby Marie
    3) Huh? She’ll be a hallucination of a hallucination of a hallucination of a hallucination. How do such things have ages?

  26. Laura: So older than the universe, then (the universe being approximately 13.8 billion years old)?

  27. A calculated age for the universe at 13.8 Gyr assumes quite a fair bit of things for which I do not think we have enough evidence (but they are comfortable to think about … on the scale of thinking Earth is flat because things are easier to compute that way). But then again, I might have forgotten who I really am and I am making things up as I go. Yes?

  28. Kari, I was aiming for the age of the universe. I rounded my figure because I wasn’t sure exactly what it was and so figured less significant figures was safer. Also, this is the level of precision used by WolframAlpha.

  29. Laura: I thought you might be. I decided to poke you for no particular reason. And yes, less specific figures are certainly safer.

  30. I did my guess already, so this isn’t something for the contest: The next protagonist could also be Weird Beard’s identical twin brother who has been in the comic twice without anybody noticing. His age is 4.5 billion years.

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