- For the titular character, see Whistles the Clown.
Whistles, originally known as The Starlight Calliope, is a comic written and drawn by Andrew Hussie. The story was intended to be six chapters in total, but was never finished. The three completed chapters were published in a book by SLG (Slave Labor Graphics).
Originally called The Starlight Calliope, the comic was uploaded on Team Special Olympics, intended to go no further than a two-page gag comic. However, the story expanded dramatically beyond that point. It ran from February to late July 2005, when he completed the first chapter and announced five more to come. Starting sometime in February the next year, he began to upload pages sporadically for the next chapter, but on September 7 pulled them down as he began to go into talks with Slave Labor Graphics to publish them. From there on, new pages would not be uploaded onto the site, available only for purchase through SLG, except for some preview pages for each chapter.
The comic, now officially rebranded as Whistles, was made available for purchase as a digital download at $0.89 a piece. Chapter One was released in October, Chapter Two November, and Chapter Three on January of the following year, 2007. Finally, the three chapters were collected into a single paperback book, subtitled with its original name to form Whistles: The Starlight Calliope.
The plan from there was to continue to release the remaining three chapters similarly, and then release them together in a second volume, perhaps to be released in Winter of 2008. However, this was not to be. Later that same year, Hussie ceased officially updating the website, documenting his various projects and adventures in a blog for several months. In time, one of the biggest occupying his time would be the revival of an old side project. Sadly this meant that the conclusion to Whistle's story would never come. The unfinished fourth chapter was eventually allowed to see the light of day for posterity.
Volume One: The Starlight CalliopeEdit
This volume comprises the first half of what was intended to be the complete story. It was released for sale as a real, physical book for purchase by SLG on July 2007.
Chapter 1: Three Ring SpartacusEdit
Whistles the clown is the most beloved performer of the Starlight Calliope until an accident leads to his left ankle being broken. Ringmaster Pendlecoat performs his execution on stage, as is tradition, via lethal injection into his arm. Whistle's body is disposed of where, unbeknownst to all else, he remembers he was wearing a fake arm. He finds himself amongst numerous clown corpses, which are being cooked and served back to the unwitting performers and audience. An old acquaintance of his, Jinglepuss, tries to warn him of the slaughter being committed by Pendlecoat, but he is unreceptive, believing his master innocent. The burly worker there takes pity on Whistles and decides to cast him out of the circus, despite his objections.
Far below, Whistles stumbles upon a male prostitution outfit. The owner immediately hires Whistles, who despite his naïveté excels in his new job and garners a new reputation as "Throttles the Jackhammer". But he still feels a longing in his heart, and two months later when he sees a billboard advertising a new star at the Starlight Calliope, he rushes straight there and hides amongst the other spectators, hoping to return to his life's passion.
Meanwhile backstage at the circus, Doodlebean tries to convince Gumblin to revolt with the other clowns, and though rumors alone leave him unconvinced, he has troubling visions during his pre-show meditation. He falls to the ground during the show when a dangerous stunt he's performing goes wrong (accidentally caused by Whistles), and Pendlecoat prepares to assassinate him via shotgun, confirming Gumblin's doubts. Whistles, jealous, rushes onstage and takes the shot meant for the other star, severely damaging his right arm. Gumblin sides with the other clowns, and the audience turn against Pendlecoat too. They surround him and beat him to within an inch of his life until Whistles begs them to stop. Their actions send him into a homicidal rage, and he sets them all (except Gumblin) ablaze before making his escape with Pendlecoat.
Chapter 2: A Clown Fled with the Clown-FedEdit
Whistles and Pendlecoat make it far into the desert wilderness, but the journey is difficult. To keep his master fed and happy, Whistles severs and cooks his damaged right arm. Meanwhile at the circus, Gumblin apologizes to Doodlebean (who was not present at the scuffle from before) and promotes her while preparing to go hunt down Pendlecoat and finish him off for good. When he brings up Whistles as well, Doodlebean can barely hide her amorous feelings, unaware of what he did.
Whistles and Pendlecoat stumble upon a town. Whistles practices tricks, teaching them to children, while Pendicoat restores his vitality by feasting on meat, presumably by killing and cooking the locals. When he spots Gumblin in the sky, he grabs Whistles and quickly begins to flee. Gumblin in turn spots Pendlecoat, and pulls out a firecracker which turns the entire town into a big smoldering crater in the Earth, though the two survive unscathed. Gumblin jumps down and confronts Whistles about what he did, but is surprised by his utter innocence in the matter. With no time to explain, he opts to use a sticky trap on Whistles, and finishes Pendlecoat off by plunging him off the nearby cliff, impaling him on sharp spikes below, to Whistles' utter horror.
Meanwhile, at the Starlight Calliope, Doodlebean tends to Flippy's wounds from the incident, while expressing to him her concerns over, among other things, her duties as star and manager of the show. Back at the cliffs, while Whistles begins to rip himself free of the sticky trap, Gumblin tries again to convince him about Pendlecoat's true mosntrous nature, and tells him about a great potency that exists within all clowns. In response, Whistles grows a twisty balloon to replace his lost arm, which he can control, much to Gumblin's surprise. Seeing his mood improve, his latent talent, and the purity in his heart, Gumblin decides to forgive him. Meanwhile, as Doodlebean continues to make preparations for the imminent reopening, she reminisces about her history with the circus and her admiration of Whistle's positive spirit. To her horror, Ringmaster Pendlecoat appears behind her, acting innocent, and somehow unharmed. He gets handsy with her, and she runs away disgusted. As Gumblin and Whistles make their way back, they spot another billboard advertisement for the Starlight Calliope, displaying Ringmaster Pendlecoat along with the silhouette of a new mystery star. This deeply worries Gumblin, and they rush at high speed for fear of Doodlebean's safety.
Chapter 3: RofflegangersEdit
As Doodlebean flees into the bowels of the circus, pistol at the ready, she stumbles upon a chamber filled with dead clowns being funneled into a furnace, confirming that nothing has changed in the circus at all. The worker Whistles met with before tries to warn her to leave, but in surprise she accidentally shoots and kills him. Pendlecoat catches up with her and she flees again, but bumps into another Pendlecoat.
Gumblin's vehicle runs short on fuel, and they are forced to seek an alternative means of transportation. Whistles recognizes the home of the "governess of humans", a patron of his from his gigolo days. Gumblin finds this quite shameful, but Whistles easily scores a new ship with which to conclude the journey. Meanwhile, Doodlebean has wandered into a room full of several Pendlecoat clones. Her pistol is swiftly confiscated, and she runs further. She finds a number of grotesque plant-like monsters which are regurgitating the Pendlecoats.
Whistles and Gumblin near the circus, but are having difficulty with the controls. They conveniently crash into the very room Doodlebean is in, and Gumblin swiftly comes to her rescue, using a powerful machine gun to rip the many Pendlecoats to shreds. Doodlebean finally gets to meet Whistles, but he is called out of the ship by a voice only he can hear. It guides him to a plant monster, which bequeaths a small, toddler-esque Pendlecoat clone to him. Though both Gumblin and Doodlebean are disturbed, they decide to allow him to keep the "child". Deeming the Starlight Calliope unsalvageably corrupt, Gumblin asks Whistles to use his special powers to locate the "correct controls," which leads to the ship self-destructing while the clowns depart on an escape craft, as per Gumblin's plan, but probably not intended by Whistles.
In the deep darkness of the circus underbelly, numerous beastly monsters collude to create a new star. A large creature inhales numerous clown corpses, and a smaller one attached to its back spits up Sugarshoe. Finding meat unappetizing, he asks instead to nibble on the plant-like body of the one who "birthed" him. The beast reluctantly accepts, only for Sugarshoe to reveal he was simply joking, before viciously devouring the whole thing. Satisfied, he departs to make preparations for the next show.
Unfinished Volume TwoEdit
A fourth chapter was drawn, but was only released as a historical artifact long after any hope of seeing an official release. It doesn't have any shading, and doesn't allude to the next chapter at the end (because it doesn't exist).
Chapter 4: A Hardly Quintessential HarlequinEdit
Whistles, Gumblin, Doodlebean, and the infantile Pendlecoat clone have taken refuge in a cottage dwelling in a picturesque fertile plain, where they have since learned the Starlight Calliope has not been deterred in the least by their prior tragedies and attempts at sabotage. Gumblin decides to sneak back into the circus, while the other two are left to care for the child. Meanwhile at the Starlight Calliope, Sugarshoe makes plans for his big debut. When he gets into an argument with Pendlecoat, who slips a veiled threat in his usual pleasantries, Sugarshoe calls him out, but assures him he could not kill him, just before slitting his throat with a knife and beheading him.
Later at the cottage, the Pendlecoat clone has grown to adult proportions, but is rail thin since his 'parents' have little meat to offer him. He chews on his clown plush toys, driven by his instincts. Doodlebean worries for Whistles obvious obsession for his 'master' and is sad he apparently doesn't know how she feels, but her mood improves when he gives her a butterfly. Meanwhile, Sugarshoe begrudgingly comes to the conclusion that Pendlecoat was right. He can only come to the conclusion that they must kill more clowns to sell more meat to the audience to increase revenue. He orders Flippy to carry out this order, via failed corpse head puppetry. Gumblin arrives, hidden in the crowd just in time to see Sugarshoe's show begin. It is a severely overproduced, operatic musical retelling of the events of the first chapter, with Sugarshoe playing the role of Whistles, and full of numerous factual incongruities.
The opening act stretches on for five grueling hours, and when it depicts Whistles revolting against his master and the immolation of the performers, Gumblin interrupts the play in protest, revealing himself. In response, numerous actors dressed as Gumblin show up and encircle him, and a gleeful Sugarshoe begins indiscriminantly firing at them with a revolver, murdering them one by one. The real Gumblin signals an alarm in his belt which reaches a toy he left at the cottage. A robot called Gumbloid erupts from the doll and seeks Whistles and Doodlebean's help. The three, plus Pendlecoat, quickly decide to head for the circus, where the situation is only growing more dire. Sugarshoe continues to sing while firing madly in Gumblin's direction. He hits a propane tank, which causes a furious explosion. Panicked, the crowd try to escape, only to find the exits are sealed off. Reaching the end of his story, Sugarshoe introduces himself as the replacement to fill in the void left by Whistles and announces the start of the show, 8 hours from the beginning of the performance. Sugarshoe insists the best parts of the show are still to come, while the plant-slug monsters suddenly sprout up, ravenously seizing hold of the audience members.
The book has since gone out of print, and Andrew Hussie's old comic archive has gone down. As such, it is only available through unofficial sources, such as image sharing sites. It can be found for purchase on sites such as Amazon.
Connections to MSPAEdit
- In Problem Sleuth, ZAD eats the bodies of some dead clowns to help clean up the Chicago Overcoat's deck. The concept of consuming clowns originally appeared in Whistles, which Andrew references by linking to a preview of the comic.
- Whistles is known to use a fake arm for various stunts and hilarious antics. John Egbert is known to do some hilarious things with the fake arms he keeps in his Magic Chest as well.
- In Homestuck, Gamzee Makara's story arc , and his relationship with Lord English appears to have some similarities with the relationship between Whistles and Master Pendlecoat. That Lord English's sister and former body-mate (and also the target of Gamzee's worship) is called Calliope is no coincidence. Whistles and Calliope share the dark green jacket and medium red bowtie.
- Jaspers is the name of both the cat in Homestuck and the male prostitution business in chapter one.
|Works by Andrew Hussie|
|MS Paint Adventures||Jailbreak • Bard Quest • Problem Sleuth (Midnight Crew) • Homestuck • Ryanquest|
|Team Special Olympics||Blurb • Scriblettes • Whistles • And It Don't Stop • Neon Ice Cream Headache|
|Videogames||Namco High • Hiveswap • Hiveswap Friendship Simulator • Pesterquest|
|Other||Barty Anderson • Jandrew Edits • Wizardology • Paradox Space • The Homestuck Epilogues • Homestuck^2: Beyond Canon|