This Starbucks cover is the reason that this website currently has its disclaimer at the very bottom. To some degree, I agree with Phil’s joke on the matter: I, too, wish product placement were a thing in webcomics, or at least mid-level story webcomics like ours (I wouldn’t be surprised if Penny Arcade did a deal or seven). I’ve participated in occasional experiments: my Fans series did a couple of customized comics to promote the movie Fanboys, and we sold PDFs on an early platform that was sponsored by Verizon. But for the most part, this gig is too small-scale to be worth brands’ time.

That said, I’m the contrarian type, so if Starbucks had paid us anything to feature it in this story, I probably would’ve had Shanna go on a rant about its overpriced coffee, underpaid workers, mix of good work and hypocrisy, creepy logo, and weird, gross juices.

The actual reason Starbucks is here is, it was a more useful setting than some generic locale. And we live in a world of brands, and it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise. American kids know corporate logos before they learn to write.

Crossword historians remember “the Oreo war,” a battle about what kind of clue to write for the answer OREO. Old-fashioned purists thought the crossword should only include what information was in their really big dictionaries (where “oreo-” used to mean “prefix for mountain,” though modern dictionaries have mostly dropped that entry). New-schoolers were like, “It’s a goddamn cookie. You know it, I know it, and more importantly, anyone who wants to solve a puzzle without a fucking PhD knows it.” That’s one ideological battle that was so thoroughly won that almost no trace of the other side remains: you’ll never see a puzzle published today with the clue “Mountain (comb.).” I hope one day we can say the same thing about lawsuit-shy, toothless comics set in a “Farbucks.”

(or calling The X-Files The XYZ-Files for no good reason (cough))