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Catena is a fairly popular weekly webcomic produced by DeBray and Tracy Bailey. Tracy began it in 2003, before their marriage, and in recent years it has become a team effort. It follows the adventures of a household full of anthropomorphic cats. Rarely serious, the strip includes abundant pop culture references and snarky, punny humor.
The main cast includes:
- Treiss — A mild-mannered but quirky snow leopard, who moved to California because she hates the cold. She's essentially the protagonist, and the world is mostly seen through her eyes.
- Belle — The chatelaine of the feline manor. Beautiful, confident, and a bit of a Tsundere; it's anybody's guess why she tolerates her boarders.
- Bear — A thick-chinned black-and-white Manx cat with aspirations of world conquest.
- Patches — Bear's younger sister, a less-than-brilliant blonde who seems to think it's permanently 1984.
- Buddy — A surfer dude Maine Coon, Bear's best friend.
- Beau — Buddy's older brother, one of the angels who hangs around the house.
- Mr. Cuddles — A purple tarantula who is theoretically Buddy's pet. He wants to free his fellow spiders from oppression and return them to their rightful place as the dominant species.
Other recurring characters:
- Bryony — The other angel, Patches and Bear's sister. She has pink wings.
- Hank — The friendly dog next door, who hangs out with the guys a lot.
- Ivy — An old schoolmate of Bear and Patches, now an actress.
- Annie — The daughter of the pet shop owner from whom Buddy purchased Mr. Cuddles. She's younger than the other characters and doesn't show up as often.
- Reaper — As in the Grim. Other than as the object of Bryony's affections, it's hard to say why he's here. It's okay, though, because he doesn't seem to understand why he's here either.
As of fall 2011, the comic is on hiatus as the creators prepare to give it a Retool. The relaunch will have a more consistent storyline, and the angelic characters are going to be remade as being alive.
- Adorkable: Hank, big time.
- Anachronism Stew: The strip takes place in modern times, but Patches has yet to notice that The Eighties are long gone, and Treiss regularly dresses like she's just come from the Renaissance faire.
- Anime Hair: All of the cats were originally drawn with this, before the series began; of the original cast, only Belle and Bear kept the look. Bryony and Annie, who both came in later, also have it.
- Art Evolution: Originally, the characters were drawn in a slightly more cartoony, slightly Disney-esque manner, and the strip was in black and white. First, color was added in, and eventually there was a rather dramatic style shift to a slightly more anime-esque style. The most noticable aspect of the shift was Bear, who went from simply having a slightly large chin to having a chin that makes up half the volume of his head.
- Art Shift: Seemingly at random or when someone is dreaming.
- Attractive Bent Gender: Belle in a flashback had squealing girls.
- Author Avatar: Treiss began as one of these. Hank is loosely based on DeBray.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals
- The Beautiful Elite: Belle is one of these.
- Big Brother Instinct: It is...unwise...to speak slightingly of Patches, or to even give Bear the idea that you're thinking negatively of her. She drives him crazy, but you don't mess with Bear's sister.
- Big Brother Mentor: Beau. He actually is Buddy's big brother, but also tries to be one to the rest of the crew at times, which they don't always appreciate.
- Big Fancy House: Catena Manor, judging by Treiss's initial reaction.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Well, almost. Patches is blonde; Treiss is a brunette; Belle has pink hair.
- Camp Gay: Harry the hairdresser. All but confirmed later.
- Cats: In the storyline where Ivy joins the cast, the housemates go see the musical People. (Think about it.)
- Cats Are Mean: Generally averted, although Belle has her moments.
- Christmas Special: Every year. There are usually also special strips for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and occasionally Valentine's Day and Easter.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Ivy behaves like one of these when she realizes Bear is paying attention to another girl.
- Creator Cameo: Both Tracy and DeBray have appeared occasionally in the strip — usually by themselves, although Tracy has shared a strip with Belle at least once. Tracy once even appeared in a Darth Vader mask.
- Dada Comic: The comics during Patches' dream possibly count. It gets weirder as it goes.
- Dead Little Sister: Bryony, who is the litter-mate (so not technically 'little' sister) of Bear and Patches. Being dead hasn't interfered in her developing a relationship with them both, although Bear didn't know she existed for some time.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Annie
- Did Not Do the Research: Not the creators, but the characters. The boys (or at least Bear) don't believe Treiss when she tries to tell them that Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen isn't like Hyde in the original novel.
- The Ditz: Patches
- Dream Sequence: Bear has a rather epic one in which he was in Oblivion with Buddy. Later in the series, Patches takes the entire cast on one through various Anime.
- Fan Service: The beach scenes in particular.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Mr. Cuddles the vicious tarantula. He's not as vicious as he actually wants to be, though, crossing this with Deathbringer the Adorable.
- Funny Foreigner: Treiss is of some unspecified Eastern European background, a fact which only becomes evident when her wacky parents come to visit.
- Gamer Chick: Subverted. Annie isn't a very good gamer, but she's enthusiastic, and eventually "bribes" her way into Bear's gaming group... with a medieval flail.
- Genre Savvy: When Bear falls asleep playing Oblivion, he dreams he is in the game. He almost immediately realizes what's going on:
Bear: Oh. I get it. This is like when Gilligan falls asleep and there's a humorous Dream Sequence where everyone else on the island is some wacky character in his dream. *beat* I always hated those episodes. Fortunately, I'm a master of lucid dreaming. Time to have some fun...
Bear: Say "Make it so"! Just once! PLEASE?
- The Glomp: Bryony is, according to Beau, the only one who has ever dared to do this to Reaper.
Beau: Poor fellow has this dreadful twitch now.
- The Grim Reaper: Looking a bit like an oversized blue-eyed Orko, he appears for comedic effect at odd moments.
- Half-Identical Twins: Litter-mates Bear and Bryony are extremely similar in appearance, except for Bear's chin and Bryony's pink wings.
- Heroic BSOD: Bear has one when Beau tells him of the existence of his sister Bryony.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Annie turns into a little pink cyclone when she eats too much sugar.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Look! Biker chicks.
Tracy: *sobs* I didn't write that!
- Insistent Terminology/In-Series Nickname: Bear refuses to refer to or address Treiss as anything except "chinchilla." This is a Call Back to how they met.
- Interspecies Romance: Treiss, a snow leopard, has feelings for Hank, a German shepherd, who is clueless. Bryony has a fairly obvious crush on Reaper, who doesn't seem to know how to respond.
- Jumped At the Call: Treiss did this to start the strip. The call came in the form of Belle's newspaper ad, trying to find one more tenant for the household.
- Just for Pun: Bear the cat makes friends with a bear named Cat in one strip.
- Late to the Punchline: The recurring feature "You Had To Be There!"
- Like an Old Married Couple: Beau invokes this trope to describe the bickering and teasing between Bryony and Reaper.
- LiveJournal: Mr. Cuddles has an account there under the name "8leggedoverlord."
- Mall Santa: Beau performed a stint as one in the first year of the comic. It was a small CMOH.
- Ms. Fanservice: Belle. She does it willingly and unwillingly. A lot.
- Must Have Caffeine: Belle is a savage beast until she has her morning coffee. Literally.
- My Little Pony: Patches and Bryony play with these, as does (on occasion) Mr. Cuddles.
- No Fourth Wall: The characters occasionally address the readers directly, usually to announce hiatuses or for other similar purposes.
- Oblivious to Love: Hank the dog is completely unaware that Treiss has a crush on him.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Treiss wears one just about every day, and in one storyline, Belle drags her to the mall for a more modern one.
- One of Us: Or rather, the Baileys qualify as two of us. A large majority of their nerdy interests show up in the strip itself; additionally, DeBray has written product manuals and Tracy is a published comic book artist and colorist.
- Our Angels Are Different: Beau and Bryony aren't exactly standard angelic fare.
- Peanuts: Buddy recreates the menu from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving as a welcome dinner for new neighbor Hank.
- Poke the Poodle: The 'angels' in a Neon Genesis Evangelion parody literally do this.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: All of the main cats in the cast are based on pets that artist Tracy had when she lived with her parents; the real-life Ivy still lives with her and DeBray.
- The reason Beau and Bryony are angels is because their real-life counterparts passed away prior to the creation of the series.
- The character of Ivy is blind because the real Ivy is too.
- Shipper on Deck: It's made clear at times that Beau is sort of a closet Bryony/Reaper shipper.
- Shirtless Scene: Sort of inverted. One has to wonder if Bear or Buddy even own shirts.
- Shout-Out: Often. Past shout-outs include those made to Star Wars, Star Trek and The Legend of Zelda.
- Take Over the World: Both Bear and Mr. Cuddles the tarantula have this as their basic life goal.
- Buddy is Bear's second-in-command-in-training, by the looks of it.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Played for Laughs when Treiss's parents came to visit. Hank, who was LARPing with Bear, was wearing a Nazi SS uniform. Then again, it was pretty funny.
- Surprisingly though, it's also an example of No Swastikas, as while Hank is shown wearing the little red armband, the swastika itself is never shown, with the arm its on being not in frame, or being covered by something else. The most you see of it is a little black squiggle in the center of the white circle.
- Totally Radical: Buddy tends to speak like this.
- Unsound Effect: BEEF!
- Valley Girl: Patches talks this way.
- Xanatos Gambit: Bear comes up with one on the spot to end up watching the Super Bowl on Hank's television. It works.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Bear and Bryony do!
- Belle and Annie are black cats with pink.