Brian’s Top 10 “Imogen Quest” Strips

Esteemed Friend of the Blog Olivia Walch celebrates her birthday today, and to mark the occasion (as well as to rectify the yawning gap in our “Year of 100 Lists” series), I’ve prepared a quick tribute to Imogen Quest, Olivia’s excellent webcomic. A comic of myths and maths, Imogen Quest has provided me with many a laugh since 2010, when it won the “America’s Next Great Cartoonist” competition and ran in the Washington Post for a full week. In other words, it doesn’t need me for exposure.

But here I go anyway.

#10. “Podbay Doors” (1/5/14)



I never realized this was such a universal experience. Now every time it happens, I think of this comic. And there’s no surer mark of success than rising unbidden into others’ minds whenever they encounter an everyday event.

#9. “Bad Luck” (7/6/15)


Unfortunately, it’s kind of a package deal. You know, cool scars… systemic oppression… it’s like they say: If you can’t handle us at our worst you don’t deserve us at our best.

#8. “Memories: Notebooks” (7/2/11)


This is me, minus the volcano. So many notebooks litter my room, with so few pages filled.

#7. Your Mother’s Eyes (7/23/11)



Snape’s infatuation with Harry’s mom was a pivotal revelation of the final Potter installment. I found it pretty goofy: The book presented it as though it redeemed Snape and made him a “good guy.” Lusting after someone who rejects you and then brooding about it for two decades doesn’t make you noble. Just horny and lonely. Hornely.

Here, Olivia addresses the weirdness of the scene from a completely different, equal valid angle.

#6. Life Stats (7/27/11)


“Likes” are the lifeblood of internet comedians. Several “Quest” strips cover the topic (picking just one for this list was probably the hardest part of the ranking process), but none so succinctly as this one. Throw in feelings of inadequacy and suspicion of others, and this pie chart serves as a perfect graphic representation of the dark side of being an up-and-coming funny person in the digital age.

Then again, maybe they ARE just planning a surprise party.

#5. “The Race” (2010, posted online 12/8/13)

2013-12-08-racedayOlivia’s knack for spotting the same narrative tripping points as I do shines once again in this strip skewering Aesop’s famous fable. Come on, people: “Slow and steady wins the race” only if everybody faster ALSO happens to be easily distracted. And, of course, that the slower racer ISN’T… by no means a guarantee.

#4. “Favorite Sleepover Games from my Childhood” (5/4/11)


Petty, vindictive competition over mundane things returns! It’s a fairly common “Imogen Quest” trope, but this strip gets a boost for including several of my favorite panels from the entire comic. The depiction of “piano bragging” is definitely top five.

#3. “References” (5/8/2012)


This pair of panels captures the state of contemporary comedy with frightening accuracy. Reference humor has run rampant recently, perpetuated even by people not named Seth McFarlane. And I’m a sucker for it. As a voracious consumer of eclectic media, I feel a near-alarming degree of validation whenever “I understand that reference.” And over the next few days, my Small-Screen 66 countdown will reflect that.

As Jose Suicidio might say,
“I don’t like myself anymore.”

#2. “Memories: Snowmen” (4/9/13)

2013-04-09-snowThis strip has a lot going for it. Supernumerary limbs. Using one law of physics to break another. But it merits this slot for one reason only: “We are one step closer to curing death” is my favorite line in the comic, bar none.

#1. “Prometheus” (6/21/13)

2013-06-21-prometheus Number one on our list may be the most-hyped strip in the comic’s history. I don’t know the exact stats, but it’s made the front page of Reddit and Imgur at least once each. And it deserves the attention. Not only does the strip incorporate several of Imogen Quest‘s most enduring tropes (mythological figures, anachronistic technology), but it does what so many of Olivia’s comics do so well: capture the essence of our shared experiences. It’s “I understand that reference” in real life. The phrase “it’s funny because it’s true” holds up… situations we recognize resonate with us. Through sharing our observations of common experiences, we grow together as a community. So basically, in addition to being hilarious and a brilliant mathematician, Olivia is the great uniter of all society. And most importantly of all, despite her web celebrity she continues to associate with bottom-rung writers like me, sustaining me over at Brian Terrill Movie Night with a constant influx of Likes, “Earth’s most precious resource.”

She’s awesome.



Brian T.

Brian T.

Brian is the host of the TV show Count Gauntly's Horrors from the Public Domain and the creator of Brian Terrill Movie Night. He joined Earn This in 2013.

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