SFP

This is the end of Chapter Seven! As always, the end of a chapter is a great time to share the comic with friends.

We have been making this comic pretty much nonstop since 2012, and we’re taking advantage of the chapter finishing to take a month long break. Strong Female Protagonist: Chapter Eight will return on July 24!

Chapter Eight will also be our final chapter. Don’t get too sad yet – as you know, in webcomic-land chapters literally take years, and this one is gonna be a doozy! But we’ve always had a planned end for this story, and we’re excited to begin unfolding it.

Thank you for reading.

Brennan & Molly

Show Comments
  • AbacusWizard

    I always love the look of sheer joy on Alison’s face when she discovers a problem that she actually *can* solve by punching it.

    • Blub Blub

      she is very good at it and she loves simple black and white problems.

      • palmvos

        black and blue you mean. with some red for good measure.

    • Kid Chaos

      “Mega-Girl SMASH!” 😎

    • Dropkick

      Sometimes she has to bend a problem over a table and call it sweetheart instead.

  • Robbie X Pierce

    I can’t wait for the ending, but I also am not looking forward to life afterward.

    • Aresius

      Am I the only one getting ‘Kvothe’s third book’ vibes for this? As in, how the heck are they going to close all the open ends in just one chapter?xD

      • What open ends are there? The conspiracy, guwara, the social justice league project…not sure what others I’m missing.

        • Aresius

          Moonshadow, Max’s politician mom, the Indian deified dynamorphs, Al’s dad’s fight against cancer, maybe even Cleaver’s joining the light side?

          • ampg

            I think that’s an unreasonable list. Not all open ends get closed, and we’ve gotten a pretty good idea of how things play out for those characters for the time being. Moonshadow and Max stay in hiding. Cleaver stays in prison. I agree that I’m interested to see what happens with Al’s dad, but signs don’t point to a happy ending for that one.

          • Aresius

            Max may hide, but his mother is a senator iirc, and she’s going to be a final boss for sure xD

          • Amy S

            the ‘big bad’ that took out the supers ahead of time, Professor Gurwara (!)…

        • Aresius

          Also, where the hell is Al’s doctor? Has she been kidnapped or what?

      • Ladon

        Well, we know that Kvoth’s third book is gonna be one big motherfucker so I was never really worried about that, personally.

    • The Improbable Man

      I’m glad they have a planned ending, and I feel the same way.

    • Lex of Excel

      If it ends as well as it has gone so far, I’ll be most happy.

      In the meantime, taking bets: Anyone think the climax of SFP is going to be a Deus Ex-style dilemma about the nature of social power? From where it’s derived, and in whose hands it belongs?

    • Jason Ling

      They probably still have a bunch of chapters to go yet. Let’s not worry about SFP ending just yet!

    • Mujaki

      It’s one of those good news, bad news situations.
      Good news is, it will have an ending.
      Bad news is, it will end.

    • Syncline

      Yeah, this ending will hurt. But maybe something good is coming down the pike from B & M to replace it. Not every story has 20 novels in it like Schlock or Girl Genius

  • Aresius

    If you look closely, you can recognise Pat’s monster as a twisted mix of Skipper and Claudia’s bloodied hand

  • Gotham

    My God, Skipper, what did they do to you

  • itroun

    It may sound strange, but the main thing on my wishlist before this comic ends is a full treatment, or at least a glimpse, of China as something other than an authoritarian boogeyman.

    The image of the highly regimented, government-led super soldier program that has been implied so far strikes me as very stereotypical and does not contribute to better understanding across cultures. The China I know, the China of real life, is much more complicated and interesting than that.

    We already know the Conspiracy (if it exists) affected Chinese kids too, so there’s certainly room for this in the plot. It’s the only real bone I’d pick with this truly excellent series. Thanks, Molly and Brennan, for bringing it into the world!

    • Pol Subanajouy

      That sounds like an excellent idea. But just curious, what made you think of that at this juncture?

      • ampg

        I assume the announcement that they’d be wrapping up the story with the next chapter, which means we’re running out of time for them to address it.

        • Rose

          I barely noticed the announcement, I headed straight for the comments for this page. But now I’m sad.

    • Lurkin’

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one unsettled when I came across that page – the one where China is singled out, among every other place Feral visited, as a monolithic menace. I still remember staring at that page, trying to reconcile my love for this work with the cold indifference it was showing toward my people and my home.

  • Thomas S

    How much fun would it be to just go leap into a fray that is just is the fragments of desire and substance that dreams are made from. An excellent and joyous end to this chapter – no murky questions, no dark thoughts and mysterious dangers, just joyous and righteous anger. Lurve its I do!

    • Philip Bourque

      You don’t consider Patrick’s nightmares (which Alison is fighting in that very last panel) to be dark thoughts?

      • shink

        They are, but the final image is of Alison gleefully leaping down on them, fist ready to strike. Those dark thoughts are about to get a royal smack down, which will leave Patrick with the memory of watching Alison lay waste to his worst nightmares, and probably allow him to conjure that memory in the future should those nightmares come back. She is finally being his guardian angel, a role he has envisioned her as for so long. So yes, we are not left with an image of negative thoughts, but of those negative and dark thoughts being righteously smote.

  • Thrice.Great

    Falcor! No!

  • Pol Subanajouy

    “Psh. I could do this all night.”

  • rachels

    Thank you for your beautiful and heart wrenching work! Enjoy your break, it’s so well deserved!

  • Ladon

    I am so done. Alison: *learns she can solve Patrick’s problems in his head by smashing them* Alison: *decides to smash ALL the problems* I swear, she’s gonna get addicted to this.

    • Philip Bourque

      She already is addicted to this.

      • shink

        Alison loves to righteously smash things. The comic is about her having to face problems she can’t just punch in the face, but every once in a while she is bound to run into a problem with a smashing related solution, and then she gets to really shine!

        • Philip Bourque

          I don’t feel that the comic has presented that very well. assuming that is what the comic is about. Death of the author and all that. I feel she really shines when she smashes stuff, especially when she has permission to smash stuff, like right now.

    • Zorae42

      Well, nightmare monsters do seem like an acceptable problem to smash

  • ampg

    Gotta say, I wouldn’t have guessed when this chapter started that the entire thing would take place in one day. I wonder what the time jump is going to be like between chapters?

  • Philip Bourque

    Admittedly I’m no psychologist or psychiatrist, but isn’t it bad that he isn’t experiencing his own nightmares and dreams?
    My nightmares most often involve zombie apocalypses.

    • Weatherheight

      He’s experiencing them but not confronting them. His attempt to avoid his nightmares is in fact a sub-type of nightmare. Most people have nightmares where the terrifying situation isn’t confronted or resolved but rather the terror of the situation leads to some kind of paralysis which results, ultimately, in the dreamer waking.
      Like most dreams, nightmares have a lot of possible levels – they can be our subconscious trying to tell us something or the brain reshuffling the filing system or some point between those two extremes.

      The metaphor being used here is… less than elegant.

      • Philip Bourque

        Since you’ve mentioned being a psychologist, could you give some insight on what a nightmare about being chased, caught and nearly munched on by zombies might signify? Or would that be not in your field?

        • Weatherheight

          Being chased by something that frightens you usually implies you’re facing some aspect of your life that you know you need to confront but it feels overwhelming and thus you avoid it. The problem with dream analysis is that suggestions from outside (me) as to what they mean can sidetrack the real meaning as understood by the dreamer.
          Is there something in your life right now that you find overwhelming, too big to face, to terrifying to face, but that you know you need to confront? The answer to that for practically everyone is a resounding yes. So it’s not such a great insight from where I’m sitting. 😀

          Fear is also commonly a response to change that takes us outside our comfort zone (again, brilliant insight, no?). For example, have you changed jobs, are you in a relationship that isn’t working well for you and you want to make a change, or possibly you have a creative impulse that needs expression but you’re challenged by criticism or feeling misunderstood (one of my big fears)? Is there someone you want to understand you but they aren’t getting you and you’re aware that getting that understanding requires vulnerability, which most of us are uncomfortable with?

          It’s a cliche, but dream journals are usually pretty useful for a lot of people. Down side is you have to be vulnerable and willing to risk exposure of your dreams and hidden thoughts and feelings (anything written down can be exploited, right?).

          Technically, you already know the answer – the trick is figuring out how to stop the cognitive dissonance of wanting to know and being afraid to know (knowing means you have to take action or you’re a failure, right?). If the dreams are recurring and they’re negatively impacting your life, I encourage you to talk to a professional counselor/minister/therapist. It’s scary as hell, but I found it really helps me, even if it’s just for a couple of sessions.

          And good friends can help here too. Sometimes just revealing ourselves is all we need to work it out.

          • Philip Bourque

            Well, honestly this was perhaps the last nightmare I had, which was years ago. So I can’t remember my circumstances at the time. One thing I’ll note is that whenever I’ve had nightmares, odds are the undead are involved. When I was a kid, it was ghosts and vampires. As a teen and adult, zombies and zombie-like creatures. I really, really can’t stand zombies and zombie-like creatures, whether I’m awake or asleep.

      • Speakeasy

        The portrayal of his nightmares was a little surprising and discomfiting for me at first too, but thinking about it… Patrick is literally a telepath who can let Al into his mind. And he has essentially been carrying his frightened young child self around for a long time.

        A telepath sharing dreams about a recurring nightmare monster with his friend then going and beating them up maybe isn’t that odd given the context.

        The metaphor has some potential for inelegance if taken as blunt brain surgery, certainly, but given the quality of the story so far I have some faith in the ultimate direction that the authors are taking Patrick’s character.

        • Weatherheight

          Part of my problem is that I see too many hints that anything we see regarding Patrick cannot be taken at face value. So even what seems like a hopeful thing can be either hopeful or sinister foreshadowing.

          Too much time as a Game Master… 😀

  • JohnTomato

    Time for a break! Take care ladies and get some sun.

  • Edgedy

    Thank you so much for this, enjoy the break!

  • Zorae42

    I hope you guys might do a sequel/spin-off of the same universe but with the India characters? Or maybe a story set in China? Or anywhere in this universe really. It’s just really fun and interesting and after reading it for so long I don’t know what I’ll do when it’s over.

    I do hope you continue with some sort of webcomic (I’d most likely still read even if you do decide you want to move onto something new) or writing in any creative medium honestly. I really have enjoyed your work.

  • Jojo

    Open honesty? Respect of your friends’ fears? Beating up your friend’s nightmares?! Yeah, that’s the good stuff

  • Shjade

    Woo! Enjoy a well-earned vacation, you two!

  • DaktariD

    Oooo. DreamScape anyone?

    • Nexxo

      Go deeper.

      • palmvos

        I don’t know… ripping out a heart is pretty deep. so here have a heart.

  • Camilla Taylor

    Does anyone actually have nightmares about monsters?

    My nightmares are more often than not about having to sort and count an impossible amount of something, or finding a tiny baby animal and try to save it but failing.

    • Weatherheight

      Not in years, but back in the heyday of Bigfoot sightings (mid to late 70’s), I had lots of Bigfoot nightmares.

      Most of my nightmares these days involve (a) being lost in some fashion or (b) knowing that I need to find an answer but not being able to create or find a solution.

      • Zac Caslar

        And yet you post here. ^_-

        • Weatherheight

          My conscious mind worries a lot less about understanding and being understood with effectively total strangers. I think of this as practice for expressing myself with the people whose opinion is more compelling. 😀

      • David B Huber

        As a child I first realized I must dream in color because the big blocky Cyclopean monster with the huge mouth in it’s chest was RED! “Dreams Are Sacred” taught me to take control of my dreams (you’d be amazed how much surprise one eye can express when the prey turns into Prince Planet and flys up to duke it out!).

        These days I tend to observe some aspect of my personality coping with (commonly) various post–apocalyptic scenarios – usually as the leader of a group or on a quest – while munching metaphorical popcorn as the movie unfolds before me 😉

    • Stephen Gilberg

      It’s true that the older I get, the more realistic my nightmares get. They tend not to be scary anymore, just annoying. But I never had Patrick’s bizarre, complicated experience to shape my mind.

    • aseariel

      When I was small, there were only monsters. Now it’s mostly people. Sometimes, there isn’t a difference.

      (Everything else is ‘being unprepared or incompetent, sometimes without pants’ on my end)

    • Shiromisa

      I used to when I was a kid. I guess I still do very very rarely, but my main recurring nightmare is one where the dude who abused and assaulted me comes back into my life for whatever reason, and either I face him down successfully, I break down crying, or (most often) we make up and become friends again. I like the last one least because dammit, I have more self-worth than that, wtf dreamself?

    • Tylikcat

      The childhood nightmares that I’m remembering offhand are mostly kind or surrealist rendering of real life fears. Which is kind of funny, because I remember being terrified of things in movies (though honestly, I was far more terrified of people who did stupid shit and were going to get in trouble than of movie monsters) but I don’t remember them turning up in dreams? This is likely a poor representation because ugh, childhood dreams turn out to be poorly indexed. (I mean, there are the extraordinary ones, like the awful burning one, which was about the night that the greenhouse across the street burnt down on the night I was running a high fever. My mom claims she couldn’t get me to wake up and see the fire, but, um, clearly I woke up enough sometime in there. That one was really horrible.)

      I did spend a lot of time when I was small finding strange and improbably places to hide and sleep in.

    • alexikakon

      I still have nightmares about monsters! Most of my nightmares have a theme of being hunted by an enemy – person, people, creature, incorporeal force – that I can’t escape no matter how I run or hide. The rest of them are “I slept through my alarm and now I’m late to everything” stress dreams.

    • Philip Bourque

      My last real nightmares involved zombies. I find most of my dreams to be fairly neutral, neither good nor bad.

    • Rich McGee

      I get the “counting infinity” nightmares now and then myself. Suspect it’s related to work in my younger days. You ever do bulk mailing or work at the post office or a shipping firm? Either that or maybe it means we’re both hopping vampires and don’t know it. One grain of rice, two grains of rice, three grains of rice [peal of thunder] FOUR grains of rice…

    • Hiram

      You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you
      look down, and you see a tortoise, crawling toward you. You reach down,
      you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back,
      its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself
      over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why
      is that?

    • Pol Subanajouy

      Actually, and I know this will sound like a humble brag, but I know I dream about monsters because I always habitually try to kill them in my dreams. It’s a known trend with me and I honestly have no idea what it says about my personality. I’ll spare you the specifics, but suffice to say I got a good number of dreams I remember vividly ending with me about to punch or choke a monster in my dream.

  • Chrisssssssssssssss

    This is one of my favorite and most thoughtful comics ever. Thank you for making it, and I’m excited and sad to look forward to the conclusion!

  • Weatherheight

    Ummm…
    Yeah, the psychologist is just going walk past this…
    Nothing to say here…

    • Tylikcat

      Hey, I’m looking to you for some wisdom here!

      • Weatherheight

        It is a tenet of psychology that the therapist is nothing more than a facilitator – all the work is done by the patient. The therapist can point the way and reframe the problem and urge the patient to examine what is troubling them, but ultimately anything more than that is either enabling or destructive.

        This is about as far as it is possible to get from that model. I’m giving it a pass because of Patrick’s power set, but Alison beating up Patrick’s demons isn’t salvation in the model I was trained under. This is.. something else, and it’s kind of frightening to me.

        There, I’ve said too much.

        • Tylikcat

          It hadn’t even occurred to me to see this as therapy. And “I will hang out in your nightmares and treat them like a video game!” is an unusual model of friendship, but… okay.

          • Weatherheight

            Friendship often involves therapy – unstructured but therapeutic conversation is common. Hanging out and venting is the obvious example.

            Patrick’s level of trauma puts him in a whole other class of need, as does his current and potential power. Just too many ways for this to go wrong, IMHO. And it feels like it’s being glossed over in a very pollyanna way to me. I’m hoping this gets a callback a few times in the final story arc.

          • Tylikcat

            …okay, I should be the last person to scorn this model. (Especially considering what a time consuming and pain in the butt process it is to find a therapist who can deal with me and offer useful feedback. …and while I may have alienation issues, I have a really solid network of friends, which probably makes the whole therapist thing look even more unfortunate much of the time.*)

            * though if / when it next comes up, the proliferation of video appointments looks like a really great development.

          • Weatherheight

            Them spending time together in either of their dreams is almost certainly a good thing – Patrick desperately needs to know and to be known by another person. His impulse to isolation is destructive and he knows it, but isolation is almost always a catch-22.

            Yeah, good friends who get you are vital, and that’s also why I’m giving this a pass. And giving Alison an outlet for her violent impulses in a manner where either Patrick is just making shit up for her to bash OR where Patrick’s psychic constructs are being diminished to the point where he can confront them himself .

            And SO much agree that a good therapist is hard to find and a treasure beyond price. I’ve been blessed in that I’ve had mentors who were also therapists and who helped me a lot. Sadly, most are not with me anymore – they have moved away or died or have encourage me to stand on my own because they felt I was ready (and yeah, they were pretty much right on that). But I am better for having known them.

        • Zorae42

          I don’t know, maybe seeing her utterly wreck his nightmares will make them less scary and give him the confidence/courage to take care of them on his own eventually?

          • Weatherheight

            That’s a possibility. I’m choosing to believe that’s the analogy they’re shooting for here.
            It’s also possible that he’ll come to rely entirely on Alison to conquer his fears for him and never fully develop a coping mechanism for effectively dealing with terror.
            The problem with hanging out with folks on both sides of the couch is you get to see just how wrong it can go from time to time. It’s fairly rare but when it does happen it’s usually fairly horrible.

          • Zorae42

            Yeah, I imagine it could be an issue. But it seems like he was already not coping with his nightmares. Since Alison never noticed him before, even if she told him to stop, he might get tired of having nightmares all the time and go back to hiding in her dreams for comfort. Or someone else’s dreams.

            This way seems like a slightly better option than just kicking him out to face his nightmares alone with no support other than being there after he wakes up.

          • Weatherheight

            Even better would be for her to grab one, hold it in place, and encourage him to beat the snot out of it himself.

            Lots of options here.

          • Dawn Smashington

            “Even better would be for her to grab one, hold it in place, and encourage him to beat the snot out of it himself.”

            Agreed. One of my apprehensions with all this is that Patrick becomes dependent upon Al, in place of, as you said, doing the work himself. The potential for him to become the worst kind of stalker; the kind that can follow you in your head at all times, even into dreams; seems to be pretty high here.

          • Weatherheight

            Okay, you just took it way darker than I was thinking.
            Yeah, got a first-class grade-“A” case of the willies out of that thought.
            ::shudders convulsively::

          • Dawn Smashington

            I’m honestly a little bit surprised these thoughts aren’t expressed more here? This is a dude that not only apparently has killed a LOT of people, but also his own parents; regardless (but maybe especially because) of what into these things happening, he is more than capable of becoming the “friend” who is jealous of your relationships with other people, and actively tries to sabotage these relationships in order to leave himself open for the shoulder to cry on and etc etc to the logical end (him finally internally accepting that she is rejecting him, and going ballistic, whatever that looks like for someone with a lot of literal skeletons in his past and superpowers). We’ve already seen him sabotage Al’s relationship with Clevin.

            Like, these dark things always begin nearly-benignly, with there being something “wrong” with one person that another tries to “fix”. Here, having a history that binds them in the annals of written history together, and having seen them spend some amount of personal time together, it’s natural to have that “They were meant to be together!” train of thought (and of course this is a fictional medium, where things like that are commonplace). But reality often tells a different story, and I am on the edge of my seat about which path this takes.

        • Nexxo

          Alison is not his therapist, she is his friend.

          • Weatherheight

            May I do brain surgery on you?
            If not, why not?

          • David B Huber

            Remember the Sentinel was Patrick’s choice as a guardian avatar, representing safety and order. So one could say Alison is pre-screened!

            I would also refer you to Peter Phillips’ classic short story “Dreams Are Sacred”

          • Weatherheight

            I saw it a bit differently – the Sentinel wasn’t so much about safety as much as about destruction of the terrifying and control of the same. So choosing Alison as that representation of all of that is kind of a double edged sword, isn’t it? She’s both a protector and destroyer, a savior and a threat.

            Which tells each of us a little something about ourselves, doesn’t it. 😀

        • Chani

          This is reminding me of when Steven Universe was fighting the pizza dreams, and at least there, punching things was not the real solution.

      • palmvos

        this exchange is priceless…

  • Too late, I’m sad.

  • Stephen Gilberg

    For a moment, I thought, “Wow, he barely hesitated to show her his nightmares.” Then I realized that she had absolutely no privacy from him, so it’s only fair.

  • Matthew McMahon

    👏👏👏👏👏

  • Franklin J Gomes

    I will have comment on Patrick having even less understanding of boundaries that i thought…

    But the multi-eyed bloody dragon had a switch blade, and that have priority.

    • palmvos

      its something she can punch.
      ::resistance fail::
      punch it
      punch it good

  • Varder

    Just binged the comic today. My heart has hurt and flown. I can’t think of a better way to express how I feel about it.

  • David B Huber

    This explains Gurwara’s overloading of Alison’s identity! Patrick was lurking in Alison’s mind while Gurwara was lurking in his!

    Gurwara piggybacked into Alison’s mind, observed the suitcase, guessed it might be important and tried to steal it!

  • Michael Altarriba

    My god, you’re amazing… thank you so much for your work!

  • Tsapki

    Panel 5: Look out! It’s got a knife!

  • PinusPalustris

    I’ve been reading this comic for a while, and it’s been a wonderful and interesting journey. I can hardly wait to see what lies in store for us in the final chapter. However it turns out, thank you for giving us this wonderful story. It’s been a pleasure turning in.

  • Rich McGee

    Genius. “They’re not MY nightmares” is getting stolen for personal use. Best explanation I’ve ever heard for why almost the whole modern horror genre fails to work for me.

  • Really glad that you’re bringing it to a conclusion.
    Not because I’m bored (I’m really not), but because I think stories work best with a beginning, middle, and end (not necessarily in that order), and I really want to see this to get a conclusion rather than just stopping some day because you both have other things taking priority.
    So thank you, both for the story so far, and for the fact that in a year or two I’ll be able to hold the complete SFP in my hands.

    • martynW

      I agree! Some of the best webcomics have a complete arc, and several sit on my shelves as trade paperbacks.

  • Eli Pomerantz

    it’s often easier to fight someone else’s demons

  • Jshadow

    She should’ve been named “Solve-everything-with-fists girl”, not Strong female protagonist, because that’s pretty much all we’ve seen her do.

    Also, Patrick you pathetic wealking…

    And plotpoints still not solved.

    • Zorae42

      “Solve everything with fists girl”

      So a Strong Female Protagonist?

  • solarclathrate

    Woah. Non-consensual dream invasion.

  • Richard, Probably

    A webcomic with a planned conclusion. Never thought I’d see the day.
    Well, I know we’re a long ways off yet, but I can’t even think about seeing this story wrap up without wanting to say how much I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you so much for creating it for us!

  • I am SO put in mind of how happy Superman was when he faced Darkseid and realised that he didn’t have to hold back – here was someone he could PUNCH.

  • Johan

    This is actually pretty cool. And now they can have fun fighting monsters together 😀

    • palmvos

      I think Patrick will watch.
      He likes to watch. now Feral… I suspect she would enjoy sinking some teeth and claws in…

  • Vincent Bondy

    This comic truly brings me so much catharsis and joy, and I just want you to know how grateful I am for its existence, and your generosity in sharing it with us. Thank you.

  • yaser amer

    Ahhhhh the wrost but still great strong female protagonist webcomic chapter is over now to finally know the conspiracy and probably have it end also anyone wanna join an rp about this webcomic when it ends