El Goonish Shive

El Goonish Shive

Infobox comic strip
title= El Goonish Shive

caption= Grace in anthropomorphic squirrel form.
author= Dan Shive
url= http://www.elgoonishshive.com/
rss= http://www.elgoonishshive.com/egs.rss
status=Updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
first= 2002-01-21 [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20020121.html]
genre= Fantasy/Sci-fi/Slice of life story
rating= 13+
preceded by=
followed by=

"El Goonish Shive" ("EGS") is a contemporary fantasy webcomic, written and drawn by Dan Shive. It debuted on 2002-01-21 and has been hosted on Keenspot since mid-2003. Shive rates "EGS" as being "13+".

The comic depicts the lives of a fictional group of teenagers in their junior year of high school. They are subject to the trials of daily teenage life, such as disapproving parents, nasty rumours and arbitrary school decisions, as well as more outlandish problems involving magic, aliens, parallel dimensions, and "superscience."

The comic is broken down into a number of storylines, which are usually part of a long, continuous plot. Most storylines are short and follow only a few characters, but some are multi-part arcs in which the whole lead cast is involved. In five years of production, the internal chronology of the strip has advanced by only about a month.

Keenspot has published two volumes of collected editions. As of March 2007, the first volume was the third best selling Keenspot article.cite web|url=http://www.keenswag.com/home.php|title=Keenspot articles| accessdate=2007-03-10]


The author of "El Goonish Shive" is Daniel Elliot Shive (born 1983-02-18). Shive regularly participates in discussions with his fans on the "EGS" Keenspot forum, and sometimes releases information about the storyline and world in which it is set, as well as discussing storyline decisions and alternate paths he might have taken with the comic.

Shive occasionally draws himself in the comic outside of continuity, using an anthropomorphic squirrel, designed as a mix of the cast’s characteristics, as author surrogate. This avatar often plays the funny man in fillers, as opposed to the character Elliot Daniel Dunkel, who appears as the straight man within "EGS".

Shive has been a panelist in the annual Comic-Con International since 2003.


"El Goonish Shive" features tolerance related issues, including sexual orientations such as homo- and bi-sexuality [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20031219.html] [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20051221.html] , non-traditional gender roles and lifestyle choices.

As the main plot proceeds, the characters are shown coming of age, However, not all changes have been pleasant to the characters. For instance, Nanase, who is introduced as strong and confident [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20020504.html] , is shaken to the core when she discovered her homosexuality (something her mother despises [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20030730.html] ), and is only slowly recovering.

Manipulation is shown in different forms, from the humorous to the dangerous. Government agent Mr. Verres hides the widespread presence of friendly aliens, "Uryuoms", by giving them T-Shirts with "Human" printed on it, which works within the comics reality. More dangerous to the characters is the direct mental manipulation by the invisible "Mastermind".


After "Introductions", the plot begins with the "Goo" storyline, in which Tedd creates goo in class which becomes a danger and Elliot apparently destroys it using martial arts and a lighter. In the following storylines including "Sister", the other lead characters are introduced: Sarah as Elliot's friend, Grace as hybrid shapeshifter who fled from the cruel Damien, Nanase and Justin as Elliot's fellow martial art students, and Susan as Sarah's feminist friend. Tedd's father Mr. Verres is revealed to be a member of a secret agency. In the "Sister" arc, Tedd accidentally transforms Elliot into a girl, who is later split into two people. A male Elliot and a female, dubbed Ellen. Ellen mistakenly believes that she will be short-lived and wants to destroy Elliot's life as revenge and heads for school, where her plans mostly fail. Ellen is then attacked by the goo, which is actually computerized and claims to have been sent by "Lord Tedd". At the end of the arc, Ellen destroys the goo with the help of the others, and is accepted as their friend, and by Elliot and his family as a sister.

The next storylines expand the characters: Ellen befriends Grace, Sarah and Elliot deepen their relationship formed in "Sister", and both Tedd's parents, and Susan's, are revealed to be divorced, the latter because her father committed adultery. In the "Night Out" arc, Tedd and Grace, both transformed into the opposite form, go to the cinema with Sarah and Elliot. Grace's shapeshifter "brother" Hedge, recognizes Elliot, whom he saw transformed, as an anthro-feline, during "Sister". The second part of "Night Out" shows Ellen, Justin and Nanase following Susan's invitation to watch videos at her house. Susan develops a crush on Justin [http://www.egscomics.com/d/20030630.html] , before finding out he is gay, and Nanase discovers that she is a lesbian, and is attracted to Ellen. She is desperate to keep it a secret, fearing her mother will find out.

The storyline "Tam eh Tedd" introduces the alien Uryuoms and their reproductive method, where any DNA can be inserted into an Uryuom egg, and still produce viable offspring [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20030909.html] . The Uryuoms are revealed to be the origin of Tedd's transformation gun. [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20030917.html] The "Painted Black" arc begins with Hedge abducting Elliot, while he and Sarah are together in the park. Elliot painfully transforms into an anthro-feline and passes out. Hedge pushes Sarah away easily, but tells her he will take Elliot to the "Nest". Ellen and Nanase accompany Grace to the Nest, her birthplace. Grace enters the Nest, but is caught and bound by Damien, and placed next to Dr.Sciuridae, who had treated her like a daughter. Sciuridae reports how he replaced the human DNA for the Uryuom egg in the "Shade Tail" project designed to kill Damien with his dead daughter, Grace's [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/d/20040310.html] . Elliot, Ellen and Nanase defeat Grace's brothers, Hedge, Guineas and Vlad, and Damien wants to fight the intruders himself. Instinctively, Grace transforms into a very powerful form, fighting and wounding Damien severely until he flees. Damien prefers his death to captivity, and unable to kill Grace otherwise, he blows himself up next to her. Nioi, an anthropomorph from the same alternate universe as "Lord Tedd" who was secretly watching, rescues Grace and brings her back to her friends. Nioi then presses Ellen's nose, promising it will help her, and vanishes. The arc closes when troops from Mr.Verres' agency bring Hedge, Guineas and a now human, female, "Vladia" to the agency to prepare them for living normal lives. Elliot, Grace, Nanase and Ellen return home.

The storylines from "Sleepy Time" to "Family Reunion" tell several stories in parallel that happen during the following week in story time. Grace feels guilty about having been violent, and remains in human form. She invites her friends to a gender-switching birthday party. While most dislike the idea, all agree to come. For the next few days after Nioi's "nosebeep", Ellen's dreams are of the memories of an alternate Ellen, from birth to high school graduation, who grew up in a world where hybrids such as Grace were common and where Tedd and Nioi's alternates and a hybrid named Archie were her friends. Tedd teasing a distraught Susan about her Star Trek shirt leads to his school's Principal introducing a strict dress code for Moperville North HS. At Moperville South HS, a group of girls tries in vain to recruit Nanase to get more male attention, observed by Justin's former friend Melissa and the distant Noah. On Grace's birthday, her siblings contact her, and they convince Grace that she shouldn't feel guilty about what she did to Damien. At the beginning of the "Grace's Birthday Party" arc, the ghostly "Mastermind" tries to subconsciously make Ellen transform Elliot, apparently hoping the ray will transport him into Elliot's body,Fact|date=April 2007 he fails and is chased away by two "immortals". Afterwards, the party progresses with gift-giving, gender-switching and a Karaoke competition, won by Ellen who explains about her dream alternate, who was a singer in a band. Then, people go their own ways, ending up in groups of two. Elliot and Sarah make out despite being gender-switched. Tedd and Grace work out misconceptions about each other. Male Susan and female Justin go from remembering sad moments of their past, to Susan consoling Justin, to both making out, only not going further when a lamp burns out. Ellen tells Nanase that she is a lesbian, after alternate Ellen's seduction of Archie ended badly, but Nanase is silent, only telling Ellen of her own homosexuality, and kissing her in the final strip of the arc.

The storyline "Hidden Genesis" reveals the Mastermind to be a man named Magus from another dimension, transported into the astral plane of this one two years prior to "Sister". The current storyline, "The After Party", follows the characters on the day after the party, introducing Nanase's family, and emphasising Nanase's fear of her relationship with Ellen becoming known by them. At present, Ellen and Grace are settling in at Moperville South.




Shive occasionally shows earlier ideas for "El Goonish Shive" within the strip, in no particular order.

The strips earliest drawn do not include the more fantastic elements of the setting. They show Elliot, Tedd and Sarah meeting for a roleplaying evening [http://www.egscomics.com/Filler/d/20040720.html] . In "Painted Black Special Features" Shive reports he made several changes to his previous ideas when he decided to make a webcomic.Fact|date=December 2007 Elliot, Tedd and Sarah remained main characters, while elements of a fourth character were used for Grace and Susan. "EGS" gained powerful villains with Damien and Grace's brothers, and was destined to lead to a major battle against them in what would become the "Painted Black" arc [http://www.egscomics.com/d/20040707.html] . Shive later provided them, and Ellen [http://www.egscomics.com/Filler/d/20030727.html] and Lord Tedd [http://www.egscomics.com/d/20030225.html] who were also introduced as villains, with a more detailed character and reasons for their actions.

The early strips establish the danger Damien presents and prepare the way for Ellen's creation and struggle in the "Sister" arc, with occasional humor mainly in the form of gags and references to pop culture. After "Sister", the next storylines focused on humor. From then on, Shive slowly changed "EGS" by letting new friendships form and examining the characters' more realistic problems, while humor is still present and the more fantastic elements of the setting still play a major role. The "Painted Black" arc with its battle still happened, but it became a violent disruption of the characters' usual lives, affecting some characters deeply, instead of the focus of the entire story as which it was planned [http://www.egscomics.com/Filler/d/20031214.html] .

As of April 2008, the main cast of "El Goonish Shive" still consists of the same eight teenagers present at the end of "Sister", although several secondary characters have been introduced. While the core personalities of the main cast have been established, characters develop in response to the situations they face, and for many characters most details of their lives are still unexplored, such as their family and school situations.


Shive used backgrounds rarely in early strips, but increased their frequency over time. Shading was rare before January 2005 when it became a regular part of the strip. While shading and backgrounds have been added, color has become rare over time. "EGS" had been started as grayscale comic with colored Sunday strips, then switched to full color for a while and back to full grayscale in December 2002, with very few colored strips outside the main section since. The comic's strip size had begun with newspaper format, but Shive switched to double the height during "Relations, Part II" and rarely strayed from this until the introduction of a Portrait style. The comics are now of comparable size to a physical comic, and are in full color, with simple shading. Dan has recently said that he is making efforts to have the characters look less alike.

The improvement of details in the comic had an effect on the update schedule.fact|date=December 2007 "EGS" started with daily strips. With the introduction of the EGS:NP section, updates were still meant to be dailyfact|date=December 2007, but split into three updates of the main section, three in the EGS:NP section which used newspaper strip format, and one filler on Sunday. "EGS" eventually settled with a schedule involving three main section updates per week. In March 2007, Shive temporarily opted to release two main section strips and one filler per week, due to time constraints.fact|date=December 2007. As of April 2008, updates are three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


"EGS" was reviewed at the "Webcomic Book Club" in Summer 2004, where four reviewers came to very different conclusions about the strip's quality. Criticisms included the contemporary tendency for cast members to look alike, poor initial characterization, and overly verbose writing. [cite web| url=http://www.masterzdm.com/enter/webcomicbookclub/full.php?cid=76| title=Full Reviews of El Goonish Shive| accessdate=2007-03-12| publisher=Webcomic Book Club] A short April 2007 review in the comic zine "Sequential Tart" gave "EGS" a 7/10 rating. The review focused on the gags and jokes of the strip. [cite web |url=http://www.sequentialtart.com/reports.php?ID=5184&issue=2007-04-01 |title=El Goonish Shive |accessdate=2007-04-03 |last=Burke |first= J. |date=2007-04-01 |publisher=Sequential Tart]

"El Goonish Shive" is cited with a pictorial reference in T. Campbell's "The History of Webcomics". [Campbell, "The History of Webcomics", ISBN 1-0976804-39-5] The comic featured in the September 2006 issue of Edutopia magazine, [cite journal| url=http://www.edutopia.org/magazine/ed1article.php?id=Art_1605&issue=sep_06| title= Tions and Ligers and Geeps -- Oh, My!| first=Christopher Thomas| last= Scott| accessdate=2007-02-25| month=September| year=2006| journal=Edutopia| format= dead link|date=June 2008 – [http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=author%3AScott+intitle%3ATions+and+Ligers+and+Geeps+--+Oh%2C+My%21&as_publication=Edutopia&as_ylo=2006&as_yhi=2006&btnG=Search Scholar search] ] where its use of chimerae was an opening on cross-species hybrids.

Collected editions

* "El Goonish Shive, Volume 1: Read or the Owl Will Eat You" ISBN 1-932775-10-2
* "El Goonish Shive, Volume 2: The Piece That Does Not Fit" ISBN 1-932775-40-4Both volumes are published by Keenspot and are consistently in greyscale, except for the cover.

Volume 1 contains strips from the comic's launch up to the end of "Sister Part V", Volume 2 those from "Sister Part VI" up to the end of "Q&A #2".


External links

* [http://www.elgoonishshive.com "El Goonish Shive"]
* [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/Filler/ "El Goonish Shive Filler"]
* [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/egsnp/ "El Goonish Shive: Newspaper"]
* [http://www.elgoonishshive.com/Filler/d/20060206.html "EGS Official Character Guide"]
* [http://www.keencast.com/podcasts/keencast_20060206_002.mp3 Keencast#2, Interviews Dan Shive and mentions this article]

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