|Medium:||webcomic (with some available print volumes)|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
|External Links:||Questionable Content|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Questionable Content is a slice-of-life webcomic by Jeph Jaques about “romance, indie rock, little robots, and the problems people have.” It's set in a near-future society where the Singularity has taken place and sentient, intelligent AI (most, but not all, of whom appear human) are a common part of society, with rights, jobs, etc. The Questionable Content universe is also stated to be a post-scarcity universe, and has advanced space travel.
This seems not to have made a huge difference to society, as the main focus of the story is a group of human friends and their lives and loves. However, there are hints that in the larger world there have been major changes that haven't yet percolated down to their level. As the comic has progressed, it has introduced a greater diversity of non-human characters and through them, explored more issues related to AI society.
At its outset, the comic focused on Marten Reed, a young would-be indie rocker who was dissatisfied with his life, and his anthroPC (an AI companion), Pintsize. It now has a large cast made up mostly of young professionals, their AI friends and colleagues. The comic has a variety of different storylines and character arcs on the go that it focuses on at different times.
Questionable Content originally updated twice per week, before increasing to thrice-weekly updates and then updates every weekday after artist Jeph Jacques made its creation his full-time job in September 2004.
References to Fandom
In the Questionable Content universe, two members of the cast are currently[note 1] extremely popular Vtubers with huge fanbases: Aurelia Augustus (mother to Clinton and Claire Augustus) and Marigold Farmer. The two collaborated for a livestream, during which Aurelia (presumably) accidentally displayed foot fetish fanart involving their avatars on-stream.
Later on in the stream, Aurelia did a live reading of a "particularly spicy" fanfic involving their avatars, which featured lactation kink and scat kink. The name of the strip (#4840) was Archive Of Our Own. The fic was heavily implied to have been authored by Pintsize.
Questionable Content is a very well-known webcomic by virtue of having been around since the early 2000s, and having updated consistently for close to 20 years. As such, it has a large fanbase, but the comic has relatively little by the way of an organised fandom and few fanworks. Overall, fanart is more commonplace than fanfiction.
Beginning in at least 2005, the webcomic had an official forum where fans gathered to discuss the comic (and on one occasion, create a collaborative guest strip when Jeph was unable to update the comic). The forum had an official thread for fanfiction recommendations and an official fanart thread; in the early days, fanart was also featured on the Questionable Content main site, with the forum thread created to supplement this. The official QC forum closed its doors on 1st January 2023, with admin pwhodges announcing that existing posts and private messages would continue to be visible "for the time being".
In the wake of the forum's closure, fans were invited to join one of two Discord servers (one of which was set up in response to the forum closing), or discuss the comic in its dedicated thread on the Order of the Stick forum, or on Reddit. Prior to November 2022, Twitter was also a site of fannish discussion, where Jeph would (almost always) tweet a link to the day's webcomic using a humorously irreverent URL[note 2]), and fans would discuss the comic in the replies. However, following Elon Musk's acquisition of the site, Jeph took to impersonating Musk and was subsequently banned from Twitter; however, Jeph had been using the site much less frequently since the acquisition was announced. A fan community also exists on Patreon, where comic strips are made available a day early for supporters.
There is some fandom presence on Tumblr, where fans post fanart and screencaps from the comic with commentary. A handful of fanfics have been published to AO3, and the fandom has successfully been nominated for Yuletide on multiple occasions.
Questionable Content also has two dedicated subreddits, r/QuestionableContent and r/QContent. Jeph Jacques has repeatedly stated his dislike of Reddit as a platform, and specifically his dislike of the r/QuestionableContent subreddit, whose moderator has previously banned a user for arguing with a transphobe. Jeph tweeted that the mod's actions were "inexcusable" and that he was "so fucking angry and embarrassed about this shit". He has endorsed the r/QContent subreddit over the r/QuestionableContent subreddit as a community that is run by "actual nice people".
- Marten/Claire, a relationship between the comic's erstwhile main character, Marten, and library science graduate Claire Augustus (sometimes shortened to Claireten or Clarten)
- Faye Whitaker/Bubbles, a human/AI relationship between Marten's best friend Faye Whitaker and a former combat AI, Bubbles (sometimes shortened to Faybbles)
- Dora/Tai: Dora Bianchi is Marten's ex and the proprietor of Coffee of Doom, where many of the cast work and hang out. Tai Hubbert is Marten's boss at the college library where he currently works. The two are engaged.
- Marigold/Dale: Marigold Farmer is the introverted former roommate of Faye's ex-boyfriend, Angus McPhee. Dale is her former nemesis on World of Warcraft, who used to deliver pizzas, then moved to working at Coffee of Doom and now works full-time supporting Marigold's career as a professional Vtuber.
- Steve/Cosette: Steve (no canon last name) is Marten's closest male friend and an old college buddy. Cosette is a college student who now works at Coffee of Doom.
- Wil/Penelope: Wil is a poet who works as a bartender, and is friends with Dora's brother Sven Bianchi. Penelope is the current assistant manager at Coffee of Doom.
- Tilly/Station: A human/AI relationship between Tilly, a nonbinary minor character who works as an assistant to Hannelore Ellicott-Chatham's father, and Station, a sentient space station AI.
- Veronica Reed/Jim Bean: Marten's mother (divorced from his father) began a relationship with Jim Bean, owner of The Secret Bakery, a bakery/coffee shop, and the two are living together.
- Elliot Gordon/Clinton Augustus: Elliot is a baker at The Secret Bakery, while Clinton is the younger brother of Claire. He is an AI student and previously thought he was straight, but was open to exploring his sexuality and realised he had feelings for Elliot.
- Renee/Dan: Renee works at The Secret Bakery, while Dan is a former classmate who was once known as "Shitty Dan" (a derogatory nickname). The two struck up a relationship while Dan was in town for work, and decided to keep it going as a long-distance relationship.
Of these, Faye/Bubbles is the most popular ship among the fandom, with the highest number of fanworks on AO3 and a lot of fan appreciation on Tumblr. Marten/Claire is currently the second-most-popular ship. Some other ships that have been hinted at in the comic but aren't outright confirmed are Roko Basilisk/Yay Newfriend (two AIs) and Brunhilde/Millefeuille, a human and an AI who have a friendship and possible romantic feelings for one another but aren't explicitly romantically involved.
- The Existential Weight of Cupcakes by LovelyPoet, gen, 2014. Momo has big plans and good friends.
- take my arms that I might reach you by Lauren, Faye/Bubbles, Explicit, 2016. Bubbles would really like Faye to get some sleep. She'll do whatever it takes to help get her there.
- An Unexpected Life by enchantedsleeper, Roko & Yay QPR, 2019. A year on from her decision to quit the police force, Roko looks back over some of the weird turns her life has taken. Of course, it could always stand to be a bit weirder.
- Promise by kein_treppenwitz, Clinton/Elliot, Mature, 2021. Clinton and Elliot decide to start "baking lessons." Takes place during/between comics #4486-4488.
- I Like Robutts and I Cannot Lie by taken_aback_by_Tuesdays, Brun/Millefeuille, 2022. With some gentle prodding, Brun & Millefeuille figure out what they want from their relationship.
- “Claire” by snowysentiments
- “My Anaconda Don’t” by stuffbrawl
- Buff greasy Faye is fantastic, and I am digging the hell out of her. by ohmybot
- Super quick (by my standards, that is…) Questionable Content fan art. Because that Clarten moment was adorable. by infinitesimalspeck
- Pose Practice - May - Questionable Content by cadenreigns
- Architeuthis. by mrshadowmansir
- Retrospective for the 5000th QC strip by liskantope, 2023
Links and Resources
- Questionable Content at Wikipedia
- Questionable Content wiki
- QC Fanclub at Deviantart
- The QC forum (closed as of January 2023)
- questionablecontent Discord, the longer-standing and larger of the two QC Discord servers
- QC forums, a newer Discord server set up in response to the official forum closure
- Questionable Content (Webcomic) on AO3
- Questionable Content on TV Tropes
- From the notes of the 178th strip: So today (Friday) is my last day at my day job. I am super, super excited for next week, when the full-time work on Questionable Content begins. I have lots of fun plans in store, so hopefully you're as excited as I am.
- Questionable Content #4840: Archive Of Our Own. Accessed May 26, 2023.
- The earliest WayBack Machine snapshot of the forum is dated to March 2005, with the snapshot showing that the forum had reached a record number of online users on 25th January, 2005.
- Comic #2316 was drawn by DSL, with 8 users credited for scripting, and a further 14 credited for support. The comic was signed, "Best wishes to Jeph from your fans at the QC & PonyLeaks discussion forums".
- THESE FORUMS ARE NOW CLOSED, pwhodges, Questionable Content forums. Posted January 1, 2023 (Accessed May 15, 2023).
- This cartoonist was banned from Twitter for impersonating Elon Musk, Philip Drost, CBC. Published November 11, 2022 (Accessed May 15, 2023).
- As of May 2023, the Questionable Content tag on AO3 has 34 works.
- Tweet by @JephJacques,[Dead link] posted July 9, 2018 (Accessed December 23, 2019).
- Tweet by @JephJacques,[Dead link] posted February 1, 2018 (Accessed December 23, 2019).
- Tweet by JephJacques, posted February 1, 2018. Archived February 3, 2018 (Archive version is linked as Jeph has since deleted his Twitter).
- Tweet by @JephJacques,[Dead link] posted May 6, 2019 (Accessed December 23, 2019).