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Stray Thoughts

Strays is a gorgeous full color webcomic updated every Friday by Samantha Whitten and Stacey Pefferkor.

Meela is a young clueless Lupian (wolf person) who is totally incapable of taking care of herself in the wild, so she glomms onto someone and makes them do it for her. Unfortunately for Feral, a mute mercinary, he's the one she decides is her ideal momma duck. Cue them roaming off into the wide-wide world and immediately getting into trouble.

I found Strays soon after it started a few years ago. This is a perfect webcomic to pick up because there are only 130 pages to read so far, and you don't have to slog through a decade of slowly improving art and story to catch up. Right from the first update Strays was beautiful, with full color pages, detailed backgrounds and engaging characters. The story is continuous rather than episodic, meaning rather than a joke-a-day format with a punchline it has a defined story line. This leads to the occasional boring update as a transitional page is posted, but overall I find myself more interested in reading it than other more humerous comics.

The characters are fun. Meela is the typical hopeless, hapless maiden with the twist that she's at least part wild animal. Of course, that makes it all the more pathetic that she can't hunt, build her own shelter and freaks out when Feral casually hands her a dead bunny to eat. Feral is by far my favorite so far. Even though he's mute he utilizes the 'pictorial thought bubble aside' type of communication often seen in the background of manga scenes and has very elaborate body and facial expressions that leave absolutely no doubt about his thoughts.

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Feral is the typical bad-ass with a heart of gold and can't seem to avoid falling for Meela's puppy-eyes. At the same time, he never goes easy on her either, even going so far as to use her as a bludgeoning weapon in a fight at one point. His exasperation is constantly endearing and I just love his long suffering "Why Me?" expressions. He seems to be constantly sighing, rolling his eyes and glaring at the oblivious Meela in utter futility.

There hasn't been much background exposition on either character, but they both seem to have come through some mysterious and traumatic experiences. I'm expecting them to come across their personal 'Voldemorts' soon, since the story hasn't been given a main villain yet. I'm fairly sure that Meela's parents were murdered in front of her and I'm going to bet that her missing older brother turns up as a villain sooner or later.

Feral's a little harder to predict, since he doesn't talk and we don't have the advantage of seeing his dreams as often as with Meela. The sadist in me hopes that the mysterious bloodcovered figure in Meela's dreams is Feral, and he's the one who killed her family, but on the other hand the fluffy sappy part of my personality... is rooting for the same thing so that their inevitable love can overcome the hardships of their past. -Violin music swells and rose petals float around the room-

Fortunately, I think Meela's a bit too young for the inevitably falling in love cliche and I hope they can just be friends. After all, someone's already mistaken them for father and daughter, and Feral ditched Meela in a bar to go chase some tail (literally) so I'm praying that romance is not in the air. We'll just have to wait and see as the story develops. I for one can't wait and have already grabbed one of the wallpapers in the gallery for my computer.

Strays can be found at: StraysOnline.com

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