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  • I take it Polly is Nicola’s ex-girlfriend?

    And I can already hear that one person clutching his disbelief in pain. ;P

    • I’m hoping people will let things play out and have a little faith in my ability to keep a cohesive setting and tone :)

      • ShadeTail

        Well, you definitely shouldn’t worry about that. At this point, anyone here who gets shocked or upset by this revelation either hasn’t been reading this and/or is a huge idiot.

        • Amperzand

          Certainly if the only revelation is that a character is homosexual. Is there some other craaazy stuff going on I’m not aware of?

          • Somebody in a previous comment thread was saying it would violate their suspension of disbelief to see a homosexual character. >.<

            • Andy Nguyen

              “With allies like that, who needs enemies?”

            • Disloyal Subject

              To be fair, they were referring specifically to an openly homosexual person in this time period.
              Given other deviations from our timeline, though, it doesn’t seem like a huge change, though it’s certainly a welcome one.

              • Jeff Eppenbach

                Oscar Wilde?

                • Lleyn

                  What about him? He wasn’t openly gay, he was prosecuted when he was presumed gay, and he certainly tried to convince the jury that he wasn’t. But really, in all fairness, there wasn’t a single homophobic comment on the last page, just that one guy (gal?) saying that anyone being openly gay in the Victorian era was extremely unlikely and therefore, depicting an openly gay character would undermine the comic’s credibility. That commenter obviously forgot that this is a) a work of fiction and b) not a faithful description of Victorian England at all, what with the wizardry and spirits and interracial marriages ;)

                • D. Schwartz

                  And the circle he moved in as well.

              • I think one of the points of Widdershins is that there isn’t any prejudice along those lines, just as there is no discrimination against women or POC like Mrs Barber. What is the opposite of dystopian?

                • Columbine


                  • MoeLane

                    Eutopian. The distinguishing factor of Utopias is that they do not exist.

                    • Columbine


              • Nightsbridge

                Though that seems likely, we don’t know how ‘open’ this was in any case. The knowledge of your close family is not knowledge of everyone.

            • Amperzand

              whut. how. I don’t. No?

          • Darkoneko Hellsing

            Yes, O’Malley’s actually a reptilian sent from above to infiltrate Earth.

          • Mrs de Montfort likes to kill, cook and eat small children.

        • Bill Soo

          ….or is Wolfe….

          • ShadeTail

            Nah, Wolfe is too blasé to be bothered by this. Mal or Ben maybe, but not Wolfe. :D

            • Lleyn

              Wolfe… blasé? Wolfe… shocked or upset by this revelation? Wolfe?? Have you and Bill Soo read this comic? Wolfe might be nonchalant, but never blasé. And, Bill Soo, why would he of all people be upset about Nicola having (had) a girlfriend?

              • ShadeTail

                Uh, we’re talking about the character who pretty much never loses his cool and takes almost everything in stride. So yes, blasé.

            • Euodiachloris

              Don’t see Mal caring one way or the other, myself. Ben, however, can raise a fuss over something as simple as a stray red sock dying everything pink, so it’s pretty much a given. :P

      • Geoff

        Never mind her orientation, I’m just surprised she had a home life!
        …Had :-

        • Jeff Eppenbach

          Apparently not. That seemed to be the problem.

          • Geoff

            The “tonight” in Panel 4 is quite evocative.

            • Darkoneko Hellsing

              It implies she already participated to a family reunion, then. hmm

        • A similar situation to Mr Booth’s home life in ‘Piece of Cake’. It looks as though Ms Harry will be telling her sister the opposite advice to the advice Ms King gave Mr Booth though.

  • Jeff Hogberg

    Well, I guess that answered that question rather quickly.

  • Oarboar

    Awww, man. Not only about Nicola, but what happened to the comments on the family tree?

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    This is where I’m supposed to say “I called iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit !“.

    But I don’t really feel like rejoycing now.
    (also something’s sorta off. hmmm…)

  • pingo1387

    I’d kind of assumed Nicky was ace up to this point. Either way, good way to tell us a little bit more about her!

    • Del

      I don’t know if this is British slang, or yet another way to objectify persons by inventing new “sexual identities.”

      Anyhow, what’s an “ace”? I’ve seen this term before in these comments, but never with enough context to figure it out.

      • Sanjay Merchant

        “Ace” or “acer” is short for “asexual”, which describes a person who is simply uninterested in sex with anyone.

        • Del

          Odd that we suddenly have a term for this. It unnecessarily sexualizes our natural human non-sexual relationships.
          Thus far, Nicola is shown focused on her career and not interested in friendship or courtship. That does not give us any clues about her sexuality; it only tells us about her priorities. Harry was much the same, until that glimmer of affection and playfulness in her snowball fight with Sid.

          This page reveals a that Nicola has a difficult relationship with “Polly.” Harriet had a difficult relationship with her old female partner, yet we did not feel tempted to sexualize that conflict.

          We need to let this story unfold in its own time.

          I rather like the idea of some tense friendships (like that of Sherlock and Watson in the recent generation of movies and television) which become unsettled by unnatural Lust. In the denouement after the heroic battle, we can enjoy some restoration of healthy friendships and loving romances.

          • Nightsbridge

            Personally, it’s nice to have a term that applies to you, if you’re asexual. If I hadn’t found it I would likely still just think that I was broken.

            • ThisCat

              Labels are only good when you apply them yourself- then they can be completely essential.

              • Del

                Nope, still just a label. It is useful if it is convenient for communicating with other.

                “I’m an Ace” may be useful for swatting those annoying young men who are hitting on you. Whether it’s true or not, it does not define yourself. Don’t let the world trick you into thinking that sexuality is the center of your being!

                • ThisCat

                  No. I never thought sexuality was particularily important. I merely think knowing yourself is a good thing, and having a word for that particular aspect of yourself can help a lot to let you understand. I never said it wasn’t a label. In fact, I literally said it was.

            • Del

              You weren’t broken before, and you weren’t fixed by a label.

              But there is something terribly broken in this recent culture that strives to “define” everyone with sexual labels.

              Unmarried persons used to be quite common — bachelor uncles and maiden aunts were a part of every family. Monasteries full of monks and nuns wore their celibacy with nobility. Their status was more dignified because it was not “sexualized.”

              Your essential nature is probably quite beautiful, and you happen to live it without a romantic relationship. Don’t let the world trick you into putting sexuality at the center of your being!

              • People can define themselves as they wish, it’s not for you or me to tell them what to do.

                And that’s as far as I’m willing for this particular conversation to go, thanks!

                • Nightsbridge

                  Er, sorry, I started responding before I saw this. Delete my next response to Del, maybe?

                  Edit: Did you stop any of them from going through? . . . Comment sorcery!

                  • I didn’t! Was going to let you comment, not sure what happened there.

                    • Nightsbridge


                      The webcomic ghosts strike again.

                    • Ack, looks like Disqus flagged it, because of swears! Gonna allow it through because it’s impassioned and honest and damn well worth hearing.

                    • Nightsbridge


                • Del

                  Well enough, then.

                  I shall light my pipe and sit in the back row with Harriet.

              • Nightsbridge

                Any cat owner can tell you, there is a fundamental difference between putting someone in a box and getting in a box yourself.

                Less neutrally, you don’t get to decide what is a valid and comforting to other people. I take comfort in knowing that there are people like me. The fact that asexuality is a ‘label’ as you put it is a tremendous part of how I discovered that.

                So when you say that asexuality is a silly thing and people shouldn’t talk about it. I say fuck that. Without it, little Nightsbridge would have thought that sexuality was an essential thing to human nature and I presently WOULD think that I was broken. I owe that to the thing that you are trying to call worthless and even oppressive. And if it were common knowledge I would have never thought I was broken at all! I deserve a name that people can understand, and that can help other people understand me.

                (Celibacy is considered virtuous because the implication is that it involves the suppressing of sexual urges in honor of God. Bachelors are either sexually adventurous or lonely and sad. None of these appeal to me.)

          • It’s just another layer of character information, essentially, and one that might help people relate to the character a little more- much like you yourself relate to Harry more because of her pipe.

            • Del

              Tobacco is the root of all evil, you know.

              All the other sordid indulgences are gaining credibility….. But tobacco must be snuffed out!

              That’s why I like Harry and Mal and that mysterious fellow on the cover — They’re rebels!

              • Okay, I have two ways to read that ‘sordid indulgences’ remark- One is that you mean legal drugs such as booze, the other is that you mean people’s orientations. I really hope it’s the former.

                • Del

                  I wasn’t thinking about sexual license in particular. I meant all sorts of horrible things, which might trigger anxiety in some persons… so I left it intentionally vague. And I want to respect the boundaries that you have set for discussion.

                  I had in mind things like euthanasia, social tolerance for hard drugs like meth and heroin, internet porn and prostitution…. such things that are much more common, tolerated, protected, and even becoming legal nowadays. Some in America seek to define pedophilia as an “orientation.” And the other sordid thing that we do to very young children.

                  But the War on Tobacco was a huge success! — There’s a Deadly Sin that has been purged from our culture by the great moralists of our time!

                  (You can delete this post after you read it, Kate. It is a personal response, for you.)

          • impishacid

            oh my god, we get it, you’re sooooooo straight and don’t want to ever hear about anyone else, and rationalize it by increasingly convoluted bs trying to make everyone else problematique. piss off already

            • Del

              Anger is a deadly sin.

              • LA Julian

                And so is Pride — look in the mirror!

    • Darkoneko Hellsing

      It’s still possible she is.

      Being asexual doesn’t mean not enjoying living with someone.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Also hmm, I looove all the lights effects. No electricity, all lights provided by the chimney fire or by candles.

    Speéaking of which, I wonder how they resplenish candles. Local farm productions : beewax, or animal fat mixture (like tallow) ? Other plants ? I assume petrol isn’t a common commodity in the widderverse.

    (edit : don’t ask me why I never noticed before. Yes sure, in Wolfe&Mal’s city there are public lighting an’ all and it was even part of the plot, but I didn’t think too much about it)

  • AquaBat

    While I do agree that some people can be bad, censorship is worse. If they have a negative opinion, let them have an opinion, it’s not like they can force you to change anything. Explain your reasoning and if they don’t like it, let them leave and never come back. Deleting it all just stirs up their negativity.
    If they start spewing slurs everywhere, though, that’s okay to get rid of.

    That said, I did not give a single shit back in the Gluttony arc and could not give a single shit about it now. It’s not like you’re forcing it or anything, it’s just casual. Barely affects the story at all. Keep on doing what you’re doing!

    • DaggerPen

      … what censorship? The… original comment thread is still there?

      • AquaBat

        Kate implied on her Twitter that she was deleting comments, or at least going to be. I’m not sure what you’re referring to about the “original comment thread”.

        • Lleyn

          AquaBat, your original comment seems somewhat out of context. I think what DaggerPen was referring to, was the Family Tree page, which was moved by Kate in order not to disturb the flow of the comic’s narrative. Apparently, at first the comment threads for it were lost, then re-installed. What you are referring to with your original comment, however, remains somewhat unclear.

        • I haven’t had to delete a single comment in the history of the site, luckily.

  • Sgt. Howard

    Interesting to note- Queen Victoria did sign into law the criminalization of male homosexuality- when asked if there shouldn’t be a recipical law for FEMALE homosexuality, she sais with graet authority,
    “Such women do not exist,”

    • ShadeTail

      That’s a fairly standard attitude for homophobes. They’re always far more focused on male homosexuality, and don’t care about the ladies if they even acknowledge them at all.

      • Columbine

        Strange isn’t it? I originally assumed that was from a Victorian ‘women don’t *have* any sexuality’ attitude but I’ve since seen similar things in completely different cultures that *definitely* acknowledge women as sexual.

        Historically parts of West Africa accepted lesbians but not gay men: the rational (such as it exists with these things) seems to have been that having children was essential. Women having children together was legitimate (presumably since one of them was giving birth) but men adopting/fathering a child with a woman they weren’t married to wasn’t legitimate and gave the father no rights to the child. Roughly the same time period.

        • Sanjay Merchant

          Well, my understanding was that women enjoying sex was acknowledged to exist, but considered a problem because… reasons?

          • ChaosControl

            Maybe men thought if women enjoyed sex, they would enjoy it with other people? (like they were?) I’m not saying all men back then, or even most of them, were cheating on their wives, but a lot of men just took others words as law and this might have been one of those things, you know?

      • Deepbluediver

        I know that historically (and to a lesser degree even today) some people think that so long as it’s not a penis going into an orifice, it doesn’t really count as sex.

      • dbell5

        A recent counter-example:
        A young boy is dropping out of Boy Scouts despite being very close to Eagle, because the BSA refuses to permit either of his two Moms to participate as adult leaders.
        Where there *could be* an exaggerated concern over homosexual male adults preying upon young boys (please, don’t lecture be, as I know that is unreasonable, as well), that logic truly fails when extended to homosexual females!

        • Silly Zealot

          It sounds more like they don’t want them around because they think they’d show children a behaviour they don’t want them to grow with.

      • impishacid

        Actually, that’s more modern – the porn-loving straight dude “girl on girl is hot though” approach.

        In Elizabeth’s time (?), there was actually a very different reason at play – msm had their sex acts read aloud in public to humiliate them / treat them as disgusting. The same was not done for wsw – specifically for fear that it would make ~impressionable, flighty women~ try it out themselves. There were concerted efforts to deny any possibility of sex between women happening at all for exactly this reason.

        (before anyone asks, I’m using MSM = men who have sex with men, and WSW = women who have sex with women. and doing it specifically to avoid pedantic objections about identity terms.)

        ETA: also, the belief that women weren’t really sexual was NOT static and permanent like most people think. There were periods where that was the conventional wisdom, and periods where the conventional wisdom that women were extremely sexually driven, luring normally ~stoic and ~rational men into temptation or whatever.

    • Jeff Eppenbach

      Close, but not quite. She refused to sign the law, until they REMOVED the part about female homosexuality, for the reason above.

      • =Tamar

        The quotation I read somewhere was “Oh, surely not women.” and the men rewrote the law rather than discuss it further with the Queen.

      • Hans Rancke

        Except it’s not true. (Just saw this on QI). Queen Victoria would have caused a constitutional crisis if she’d refused to sign a law.

  • Someone Else

    Harry’s response amuses me no end.

  • So Captain Barber is sly? That’s that fan fiction in the recycle bin then. On the other hand, given today’s date and the ambiguity in the speech it is quite possible that Ms Ashwin is pulling a fast one on us.

  • Nicola’s been found! #findthelady I do like seeing chapters reiterate an overarching theme, though. It’s always been kind of fun. My RSS wasn’t updating, but that’s OK – it means I got to meet Cat and her kids at the same time! I love how Sidney is still “borrowing” other people’s things.

  • Lleyn

    You know, this page is unexpectedly heart-wrenching. Nicola seems so lonely here. And Harry’s comment is actually sound advice.

  • Columbine

    There’s a lot of emotional nuance with Nicola’s expressions here. And the lighting and background is wonderful. I really admire the unstated way you introduce all this stuff. That whatever the minority it just isn’t a big deal. I like that.

  • szbnahl

    There goes my Wolfe/Nic ship, then.

    Hmm… can’t break up Harry/Sid, all other Barbers are married, pretty sure O’Malley’s asexual, … Wolfe/Ben?

    • Dragonmystic

      Hey hey hey, no reason to sink a good ‘ship.

      She could be bi, remember.

  • MoeLane

    I’m sorry, but the comic here is showing something that’s totally unnatural and wrong. And I can’t accept magic as the explanation for this one. I simply can’t. I can’t get past it, either, so I have to tell the cartoonist in public, no matter what the consequences are.

    …Door hinges don’t *work* like that. If you can see the hinges, the door opens *towards* you. I went and checked. Heck, I just checked again now.

    • Dud

      There is precedent: In the Hotel Gula Alexa blasted open a door she couldn’t push ‘though we’d seen it open and Alexa ought to have pulled – mind you the hinges were on t’other side and they never should have opened the way they did in the first place. It’s probably some sort of magical door-messing-up sprite at work.

    • Well played. :D

    • D. Schwartz

      Double action or double swing hinges politely disagree with that especially since you can “pocket” one of the hinges to hide it.

      • MoeLane

        …Oh, what the heck. :)

        I’m truly sorry, I can’t buy that, either: I don’t have a double-hinge door handy, but from looking at doors on the internet I don’t see how you could have one on this door without there being more of a visible gap between the door and the wall when the door is open. Pocket or no pocket. Does anybody have a double hinge door handy so that this can be resolved? :)

        • D. Schwartz

          Well I’ve built and mounted dozens of doors in my life so I can say it is possible but I do not have one of those handy at this moment.

          Ah well.

          • MoeLane

            Fair enough: I think I’ve remounted maybe one door in my life, so obviously I’m not an expert in such things.

            • D. Schwartz

              I say we go make a door ourselves and Mythbuster this. Yes we can have explosions.

              • Columbine

                I am willing to provide explosions XD

      • Jeff

        Seriously? In a house this traditional you are proposing modern double-action hinges? Can we just admit that the artist goofed and move on, instead of the silly rationization?

        • D. Schwartz

          No because I’m having fun. Also non sprung double action hinges are well within the ability of Victorian/Edwardian technology to produce and this being a world of fiction…

        • what

          How are double-action hinges modern? Do you not recall saloon doors swinging both ways in every spaghetti western ever? This technology is old and really, people were not that primitive — they could recess and work something for tighter fitting. Craftsmanship examples from this era are amazing as well as pretty sought after.

          • Dud

            Those are on pins, not butts.

    • rainycity1

      Made me laugh.

    • qixlqatl

      Heh, good catch, Moe! Maybe a little OCD, but good catch ;)

    • They seem to be different doors in each case. The crossbar is on opposide sides in the first two. I suspect the second door just has its hinges hidden because it is open.

      BUT… the hinges are too small for a door that large anyway. They’d rip off if they weren’t magically reinforced.

    • tinwatchman

      Nice. :D

  • William Rice

    …there is far more to the story here

  • Aw, bubby :(
    (And it looks like a couple people were right about why Nicola wouldn’t want to hear about finding herself a gentleman).

    A couple things I must say about this page:
    I love the little *JAB!* sound effects where Nicola seems to be stoking the fire out of frustration/anger.
    Also totally loving her expressions here.
    (Is she holding the hot end of the poker in the last panel though?)

  • Ah, well, lots of cops, of any orientation, have this problem, Nicola: being dedicated to your job makes less time for relationships, and anyone who can’t accept that is bound to leave sooner or later.

  • Nonesuch

    Nicola reminds me of a certain acerbic cook, here… except she lost.

  • Pizkie

    This page just makes me so happy. Not just the canon confirmation of queer Nicola (though that is definitely excellent), but just the way Harry and Nicola’s individual brusqueness(es) come together into plain caring bluntness. I love how Harry manages to provide solid emotional support without any kind of sappy fee-fees, and how Nicola obviously knows that Harry will “get” it. These gals are just perfectly on the same wavelength.

  • Del

    I am anxious to meet Polly. I suspect that Kate is busting at the seams, resisting the temptation to yield more information.

    Polly could be a young woman in Nicola’s care…. a ward, an urchin who activated Nicola’s protective nature.

    My money is still on a sort of tense friendship, like the modern incarnations of Holmes and Watson. There might even have been some 4-way adventures involving Polly and Nic and Harriet and Harriet’s grenade-lobbing ex-partner. It would be difficult to imagine so much trouble without attracting them all, and Harriet was close enough and interested in police work, for a time.

  • Khlovia

    Everybody needs a hobby.

    And nobody should make a hobby of trying to switch the focus of the dedication of a dedicated person to one’s precious self.

  • Johannes Hjortshøj

    I’m not really surprised with Nicola. Now I’m starting to think Harry might have something in common with her sister. Am I completely off track?

  • Ilmari

    Ah. Of course, I picked the gay woman as the one I found most attractive. Of course. :-(

    This is not a criticism of the story in any shape or form, since I love this story for breaking all molds regarding diversity! It’s just a recognition of what almost seems a universal joke at the expense of un-masculine men such as I. I do really want to believe that not *all* the boyish women, and/or those proactive in romance are homosexual, but fiction seems determined to convince me otherwise… ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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