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Jacques, Jeph

(1980-    ) US musician and Comics artist now living in Canada, best known for his long-running webcomic Questionable Content [see links below], which launched on 1 August 2003 and which he describes as "an internet comic strip about friendship, romance, and robots". New instalments initially appeared twice weekly and later three times weekly; from September 2004 the strip has been published every weekday (though with a few irregularities and guest artists), each new page typically comprising four to six panels; the cartoon style suggests some influence from Manga and Anime. The setting of this popular sf soap opera is an Alternate-World version of present-day Northampton, Massachusetts, in which AIs abound and are variously housed in iPad-like modules with little arms and legs, in more or less stylized Robot forms, and in closely humanoid Android bodies of various colours, mostly pastels outside the normal spectrum of human skin tones. All interact freely with the flesh-and-blood characters – including romance and discreetly handled Sex – in such settings as a bar, coffee-house, bakery, police station and robot repair workshop. Shifting tensions and relationships are depicted with considerable Humour, sometimes slapstick, occasionally exploring deeper issues like robot Slavery or the Psychological difficulties of an AI suffering Identity dysphoria while coming to terms with a new body after the old one's destruction in an Absurdist accident. Further sf tropes include vast Space Habitats (mostly kept offstage) and an enigmatic super-AI inhabiting multiple android Avatars. The continuing storylines are enjoyable and addictive.

Printed collections began with Questionable Content Vol. 1 (graph coll 2010), assembling the first 300 strips with commentary and additional material; six volumes have so far appeared [see Checklist below], with a long delay since #6 in 2017. The collections thus lag far behind the online instalment count, which in 2021 passed the 4500 mark.

Jacques is also responsible for the SF Music of the fictional post-metal band Deathmøle, ostensibly comprising three of the regular Questionable Content characters. His other online comics include the short-lived Derelict Orbital Reflector Devices (October-November 2015), whose minimalist artwork serves as background to text exchanges between two of the titular Far Future "DORD" solar energy collection satellites (see Power Sources), surviving members of a vast swarm whose creators are long gone; their dialogue has something of the whimsical melancholy of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (trans 1954) and evidently could not be long sustained. [DRL]

Jeffrey Paul Jacques

born Rockville, Maryland: 17 June 1980

works

series

Questionable Content

links

Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 04:04 am on 24 May 2022.
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