Timeline and age confusions

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Samothrake
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Timeline and age confusions

Post by Samothrake » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:40 pm

I have read this wonderful web comic off and on for the past seven or more years. I say off and on, but I took an unintended break at the end of what I thought was 2012, but when upon rediscovering the site and doing an archive dive I found that the last pages I remembered were from 2011. Weird. Time does strange things around here.

And because time does strange things around here, and because I have just in the past week or so completed a full archive dive from the beginning I must bring up some confusion in my brain that, as far as I can tell, nobody else has mentioned, nor has there been any mention of Paul trying to fix his readers confusion. My confusion revolves around the relative ages of Castella and Astali, and the 156 weeks later time-jump.
Soooo….let me get started and fill you folks in on my confusion:
When we first meet Astali, she is 15. How do we know? She tells us. When we first see Castella, we are informed that she is extremely excited about being in Kindergarten and shortly after that she will be entering First Grade. This pegs her age at about 5 or 6 (depending on when she was “born”). So a ten year age difference. Ok, good to know.
The next time we are given a definite age for Astali is her Christmas gettogether with Nadette, where they managed to put down five quarts of ‘special’ eggnog. We learn that they are both sixteen, thus legal to drink alcohol in the para-world.
Then we have birthday party that Dylan orchestrates for Astali. This is her seventeenth birthday, and also the last time we actually hear of her age before the time-jump. So, we have a time-jump of three years, and for some reason everyone but Astali and Nadette seem to have jumped forward in age by three years. Astali is getting ready to go to college, but instead of being 20 due to the jump, we are still being shown things that make me think she is, at most, 18.

Now to Pickle’s age. When they are fist established, there is a ten-year difference between her and Astali. So, after the time-jump, Castella should be at most 10. Yet we are given an awkward young tween who’s just hitting puberty. Given the material, I would have to place her age at 12-13. Unfortunately, we are not given any indication of what grade she is in school, as this would allow us to peg her current age much more precisely. I would almost go so far as to say that in the current story she could be as old as 14. I say this due to all of her friends being much more physically mature (like Scarlett), and starting after-school clubs like I would expect to see in junior-high/high school. Yet, if she is 14, that should put Astali at 24!

Then there is the complication of the back-story that Paul has established in 2016 for the earliest known interactions between Astali and Castella. In them we see a very young Astali, who is ‘reading’ her books in the safe-room of her house. By her vocabulary, size, and actions this version of Astali looks to be no more than four! And Castella is still a small sprout (though apparently very powerful). So if this is to be believed, there is only a four year difference between the two sisters – despite what was established much earlier in the comic. However, this much smaller age difference between the girls makes the current 18-19 year old Astali that we see, and the new apparent age of Castella.

And all this leads up to me asking, so which age difference is correct? Astali and Nadette were going out for a ‘social outing’ just before the ‘156 weeks later’ placard, and immediately afterward, Astali is stating how she just managed to survive a social outing. Everyone in her age range is finishing senior year of school and entering college, and at one point we were told that Astali was a junior. So a three year time skip doesn’t quite work there either.

Have we ever gotten any information from Paul as to why he did the time-skip, other than to get to more interesting stories for his characters? Do any of you think we will get an explanation as to why some of them aged and others didn’t?

And lastly, do any of you helpful folks have any ideas for fitting these timey-wimey shenanigans into my brain? Because I just cannot wrap my mind around the fact that we seem to have a time-jump for some, but not others. And that would involve time travel, which I think Paul is avoiding at this point.

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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by jwhouk » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:07 pm

Atsali is currently 18, going on 19 in February. Castela is 11.
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Dave
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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by Dave » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:25 pm

Samothrake wrote:Then there is the complication of the back-story that Paul has established in 2016 for the earliest known interactions between Astali and Castella. In them we see a very young Astali, who is ‘reading’ her books in the safe-room of her house. By her vocabulary, size, and actions this version of Astali looks to be no more than four! And Castella is still a small sprout (though apparently very powerful). So if this is to be believed, there is only a four year difference between the two sisters – despite what was established much earlier in the comic. However, this much smaller age difference between the girls makes the current 18-19 year old Astali that we see, and the new apparent age of Castella.
There's another image from 2016 (here) which shows a much older Atsali (with Thana) holding a young Castella who appears almost as a newborn infant, with some vines showing.

What this suggests to me is that Castella's "conventional" age is based on when she first became mature enough to hold something like a human form (that of an infant)... and that's sometime around when Atsali was 8. Castella was alive as a plant for some years prior to that point... and it's been implied that some of her tissues may have been grown from an ancient tree and may thus be a lot older than that. But, since her intellectual and social maturity as a human-form seems to be depends on how long she's been growing in that form, it makes sense for people to treat this time-period as her "age" for practical, social purposes. And, even then, there's no certainty that she matures at the same rate humans and other paras do.

She's a unique being, she's not as simply-defined as a human is, and she may not actually have a single "true" age.

It's a bit like a purely human question: if a baby is born two months prematurely, how old is that child exactly twelve months later? Chronologically and conventionally the answer is obvious: one year, and it's her birthday. But, developmentally, she will be comparable to most children at the age of ten months. The boy down the block who was conceived on the same day she was (there was an orgy in the suburbs that night... don't ask) was born ten months ago and his birthday isn't for another two months. So... is she two months older than he, or exactly the same age?

This matters when asking questions like "should she start school this year, or next?"

(And, yes, even given all of the above, there are anomalies in the Wapsi timeline and storyline, in this and other respects. It's not entirely consistent and I rather doubt that Paul will try to retcon it into seeming so. I think that having to accept this is a small price to pay for the high-class story we're being gifted with. It's less self-inconsistent than most traditional comic-book continuities, for instance.)

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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by Samothrake » Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:14 pm

I think my biggest problem is that with the current ages of Astali and Castella being 18 and 11, is that Castella and all her classmates aged 3 years with the 156 weeks later, while Astali and all her classmates didn't.
And it's throwing off my brain and sometimes becomes a bit of a break to my suspension of disbelief.

And while Castella might be a unique being, and we cannot define her like normal humans, she herself is defining her self-image by the people around her. And those people most immediately around her - aside from her sister - have aged, while Astali has not.

Unless we are to believe that Castella and her cast of friends were changing while the story focused on Astali and we just didn't see it. Unfortunately, I can't go with that either, because we have interactions between 17 year old Astali and an apparent 7 year old Castella.

Don't get me wrong her, I am very much enjoying the stories that Paul is crafting for us, but this little matter just keeps popping up in my head and throwing me out of the story.

Maybe it's just best for my head canon to tell myself that Castella and her classmates had a stay in the hyperbolic-time-chamber for three days! Yeah! that will work!

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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by Dave » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:13 pm

Samothrake wrote:I think my biggest problem is that with the current ages of Astali and Castella being 18 and 11, is that Castella and all her classmates aged 3 years with the 156 weeks later, while Astali and all her classmates didn't.
And it's throwing off my brain and sometimes becomes a bit of a break to my suspension of disbelief.
I don't think I follow you there.

Before the 3-year jump, Atsali had entered Gryphon High School as a freshman, and gone through some of her first year there. She certainly wasn't 18 when she started... remember, she had just hit puberty (or rather, puberty snuck up on her one night and stung her like a bee).

After the jump, she was just finishing up her senior year in high school, and was about to get her letter of acceptance into Dragon's Wall College. Nadette was facing the end of high school, with no strong idea of what she wanted to do after she graduated.

I'll grant you that Atsali and Nadette and Berdine were not drawn much differently after those three years, but from the dialog and situations it's pretty clear that quite a bit of time has passed. Since the ursamorph twins' appearances are voluntarily chosen, they might or might not choose to look "older"... and Atsali had already had to accept the fact that she looked physical like a mature Siren as soon as the Puberty Fairy had its little bit of fun with her that night.

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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by Samothrake » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:05 am

The problem I am having is the ages Paul gave for Astali before the three year time skip. When we first meet her she's 15, then she's attacked by the boob fairy and she and Nadette have a Christmas hangover (http://wapsisquare.com/comic/like-molasses/) and we learn they are 16. Then Dylan is planning a 17th birthday party for Astali at a pizza and games place (http://wapsisquare.com/comic/shes-speechless/. We even see the birthday party (http://wapsisquare.com/comic/pull-me-through/). So all of this puts Astali as 17 before the three year time skip (http://wapsisquare.com/comic/156-weeks-later/).

The only folks who seem to have aged after the time-skip are Castella, her classmates, and Katherine. With the documented changing of Astali's age in the story, my head-canon just naturally assumed that we didn't see her progressing form freshman to sophmore, to junior. If she's a junior before the 156 weeks later, afterward she should already be in college, not just finishing up senior year and getting a college acceptance letter.

At most, by what we have been shown, Astali and her classmates have aged a year to 18 months, while Castella and her classmates have aged 3-3.5 years in the same amount of comic time. There was a small amount of discussion at the time of the time-skip in the comments, but I never saw anything definitive from Paul.

And that's what is messing up with my head. So....hyperbolic time chamber.

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Dave
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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by Dave » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:46 pm

You may just have to write this off as being due to authorial choice. Paul may have deliberately fudged the characters' ages and maturation for the sake of telling the various inter-related stories in the way he wanted. He may have just changed his mind. He may have goofed. He's probably the only one who knows.

It's got to be very tough to maintain a fully consistent chronology and continuity within a fictional work like this, which is written over the course of many years. An earlier choice could end up "painting the author into a corner" and make it impossible to tell a later part of an evolving story without introducing an inconsistency. Many long-running works seem to run into this at one point or another.

As others have said: it's just a comic strip. Don't let it strip your gears too badly. :)
Last edited by Dave on Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by GlytchMeister » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:37 pm

Unless, of course, your gears are stripped to hell and gone already. In which case, spin away.
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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by Warrl » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:07 pm

Also, Katherine is one of very few major characters in this comic who are biologically pure-human. There are plenty of species that mature fairly quickly and then don't change much in appearance for years. A few mythological species, once mature, are generally believed* to never get old.

* Verifying that would take a while...

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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by GlytchMeister » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:07 am

Oh, and welcome to the forums. :)
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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by jwhouk » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:14 pm

Yeah, there are just some times you have to use Bellisario's Maxim: "Don't look at this too closely."
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Re: Timeline and age confusions

Post by DinkyInky » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:57 am

Only humans don't mature to any standards either.

Some kids hit puberty well before they enter double digits. Some don't hit it until they're full-blown "adults" age-wise. There are some that never really do.

My son was a preemie, and born eleven minutes before my friends son.

Side by side at a week old, mine looked new, while hers looked nine months old(He was a big baby). For most of their elementary years, her child was over a foot taller and very husky.

Now at tweens, mine is taller, and has a few more characteristics that makes folks think he's far older, yet neither has hit what is defined as puberty yet.

So even one two skip a few, there's no way to concretely nail down specifics based on standards, when there are no steady standards for humans, let alone paranormals.

Just change it in your mind to make them younger than first listed. Far easier than trying to firgure out how it works.
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