The Evolution of Starslip Crisis

In its seven year lifespan, the webcomic Starslip Crisis evolved from a little-known, black and white daily webcomic to a published series with brilliant artwork and well-developed storylines. Kris Straub launched the comic in 2005, and it was initially named “Starshift Crisis.” However, Straub changed the name to Starslip Crisis quickly after the comic’s initial launch due to a potential copyright issue. In order to facilitate the name change, Straub ran two strips – one called “Starshift” and the other called “Starslip” – simultaneously until August 2005, when a strip that definitively ended the “Starshift” saga played out differently in “Starslip,” enabling the comic to continue until 2012.

Initially, Starslip Crisis was intended as a simple daily webcomic that satirized and poked fun at common artistic and science fiction tropes. However, as the series progressed and advanced, its storylines became more complex, and its artwork improved accordingly. Then, in January 2009, a strip called “The End of The End” ran where Straub introduced improved artwork and shortened the name of the series to simply Starslip. After this art shift, Starslip’s storylines continued to become more advanced until the strip ended in June 2012. Through its lifetime, Starslip Crisis progressed from a simple daily strip to a complex comic, which has since even been published as a cohesive collection.

Characters and Plot Points of Starslip Crisis

Starslip Crisis is initially set in the year 3440 on a ship named Fuseli owned by the Terran Directorate. Formerly a “luxury battle cruiser” called the Crimson Fall, the Fuseli is now a museum ship featuring artwork from the 20th and 21st Centuries. The new museum ship was purposely built to give the crew a morale boost from its opulence, and the crew even received caviar rations. However, the Fuseli still has warship capabilities, and when it must re-convert to a warship, hilarity ensues.

The four main characters in Starslip Crisis are Memnon Vanderbeam, a fussy and arrogant curator-turned-commander; Mr. Jinx, an insectoid alien whose race consistently faces extermination at others’ hands; Meridian Holliday, the chief engineer who crushes on Memnon; and Cutter Edgewise, the pirate pilot of the Fuseli. Later in the story, Starslip Crisis introduces Princess Jovia of the Jupiter Colonies; Vore, a revived robot rebel; and Lord Katarakis, a major antagonist.

Throughout the comic, the characters use the aptly named “Starslip drive” to travel through time and move between parallel universes. The paradoxes and problems caused by this interdimensional travel often drove the subplots throughout Starslip Crisis. For example, in order to facilitate the 2009 art shift, Straub published an episode where the characters on the Fuseli escape from a universe destroyed by armies from the future. Another major plot driver was Memnon’s utter ineptitude at acting as a military commander; the fussy curator often barely managed the job with the help of his friends and crewmembers. However, because Starslip Crisis was both a cohesive series and daily webcomic, the storylines remained relatively simple and easy for an outsider to jump into.

Though the universe in Starslip Crisis changes quickly, the main characters remain relatively the same throughout the series. Though he eventually grew to (somewhat) respect his crew, Memnon remained relatively arrogant throughout the series. Cutter consistently provided comic relief as the retired pirate, and toward the end, he even got a peg leg. Mr. Jinx proved his competence to himself and the others around him, but he still remained a complete pushover throughout the series.

To read the series in its entirety, you can purchase or rent volumes of the comic through most bookstores and libraries.