Painted Black is the sixth story arc in the main canon of EGS. It opened on October 13th, 2003, and closed on July 5th, 2004, a total of 127 comics. This arc centers on the resolution of the conflict surrounding Grace's creation. It is to date the darkest completed story arc in terms of tone and subject matter. Painted Black was the original plot for taking El Goonish Shive online.
There was also a "special features" extra chapter made for Painted Black. This consisted of five comics of explanations and sketches/fun extras from EGS Main Story Comic for 2004-07-07 ("In the Beginning") to EGS Main Story Comic for 2004-07-16 ("The Tale of The Lady Graces").
Walk in the ParkEdit
Dr. Germahn and Amanda provided the readers with a summary of Project Lycanthrope while, in the story, Grace had a flashback to when Damien killed the researchers and staff who worked on the project and worried what would happen to her friends if he found her. At the park, Elliot and Sarah were on a walking date when Hedge appeared and attacked, wanting to take Elliot captive: he had seen Elliot in cat form earlier (when he had used Tedd's transformation belt to become a cat during the Sister story arc); this made him think Elliot was like him, Grace, and their brothers. Sarah tried lying to Hedge by "explaining" Elliot's cat form to no avail. So then (in a rare glimpse of attitude from her) she kicked Hedge in the crotch, letting her and Elliot begin to run away. However, Hedge transformed into his half hedgehog form, chased them down, and then hit Elliot with his chain. The resulting stress caused Elliot to transform into his cat form, then collapse from the pain and energy use of transformation. Sarah bravely tried to fend Hedge off, but he easily got past her and took Elliot. As he left, he gave Sarah the cryptic clue that he was taking Elliot to "The Nest".
In the Alpha Universe, Lord Tedd was looking for Nioi, who had traveled to the Main Universe to look for Dr. Sciuridae. At the Dunkel's house, Ellen was training by herself but was interrupted when she received a phone call from Sarah, who asked simply to be picked up at the park, hanging up without any further explanation, leaving Ellen confused. Ellen arrived at the park with Justin, Susan and Nanase in tow, at which point Sarah told them that Hedge took Elliot. They went to Tedd’s house to form a plan, since Grace knew Hedge. When they all arrived at Tedd’s house, Sarah stormed in on Grace to confront her and get information, only to be disarmed by "random nudity"; Grace was going to give back her borrowed clothes in preparation to leave on her own. At the Nest, Elliot woke up to the sound of Hedge arguing with someone, and found himself tied to a pole. He then saw Guineas pop up in front of him after the unknown person left. Elliot asked Hedge only if Sarah was alright, and after receiving confirmation on that was able to remain calm. Hedge in turn asked how Elliot could be so calm, the response being that Elliot believed him when he said that Sarah was alright since Hedge had just lied to the unknown person about Elliot having been alone when he was captured, and that he's using a "self-hypnotic suggestion" to keep calm; this made Hedge think he was talking about training for missions, but he was actually just talking about how he dealt with the weirdness he usually encountered when visiting Tedd. Vlad then came in and scolded Hedge for talking to Elliot, letting Elliot see clearly that he was not just a bat. Back at Tedd’s house, while the group argued and tried to come up with a plan to rescue Elliot, Grace suggested going in by herself and trading herself for Elliot in an attempt to protect her friends from Damien. (The ensuing argument also revealed to Nioi, who had been magically spying on Tedd for fun, that Grace's last name was "Sciuridae"; this surprised her quite a bit.)
Interviewed by the DevilEdit
Damien arrived to interrogate Elliot and, when asked who he was, Elliot responded with a quote from Lord of the Rings; when Damien did not understand the quote, the former Guineas if he had understood the reference. Guineas decided to leave, distracting Damien, and Elliot attempted to escape by casting his Tamashii Gekido while Damien wasn’t paying attention, but since he couldn’t move his arms right because they were tied behind his back, this didn't work. Damien turned around and threatened Elliot to try and make the latter tell the former his name. Elliot told him his name was "Cat" because he was a cat; Damien demanded to know where Elliot’s “nest” was, how many others lived there and if they all escaped. Elliot tried to make up a story about escaping out the laundry system, but Damien told him he was terrible at lying and thus he did not believe him. Damien left, saying Elliot would not be released and would not be given food until he told him everything. Hedge talked to Guineas, and discovered that Elliot knew Guineas' name without being told. Meanwhile, Ellen and Grace argued about who would go to rescue Elliot, while Tedd tried to get them to wait for his father to return. Justin complained about being left out, inadvertently outing himself to Sarah and Tedd. However, when Grace mentioned that Damien had hit her, Tedd got rather angry and decided to help them to go and rescue Elliot. He gave Grace, Nanase, and Ellen some Uryuom workers' uniforms (which were flexible to accommodate transformation but still quite protective) and radio watches (which were apparently invented by Dr. Germahn). Back at the Nest, Vlad complained about Hedge remaining human while he himself couldn't transform. Hedge went back to Elliot and told him about why he had brought him and about Damien’s plans; Damien intended to use Grace in order to breed an army to take over and destroy the world. He then asked Elliot to tell him about Grace, but before Elliot could respond, Damien came in, punched Hedge for being near Elliot, and told him to guard the other prisoner. Elliot, naturally, began to wonder who the other prisoner might be.
Into the DungeonEdit
While Ellen drove Nanase and Grace to the Nest, Grace told them about her brothers' fighting styles. Guineas runs around and hits wildly, Hedge uses punches and kicks while using a chain as a whip-like weapon, Vlad flies around and uses bites and sonic attacks. Damien sets himself on fire and burns things on contact.
When they arrived, Grace and fairy-doll Nanase went ahead to scout the area, while Ellen stayed behind to keep Nanase's body warm (insert a joke involving a winky face). On the way to the structure that served as the Nest, Grace and Nanase talked about their animal communication and fairy doll abilities, respectively. When they arrived at the entrance, Grace assumed her Jeremy form to pull off the barricade blocking it, only to find that it had already been removed and only slightly restored by her brothers. When they went inside, they came upon a sleeping Vlad, who woke up revealed himself to be far more than a bat/human hybrid. They tried to run away, but Vlad saw them, raised an alarm, and chased after them. He quickly caught them, knocked Nanase out, and captured Grace. She struggled and screamed, but when Vlad put her down, she tried to run away again, only to be knocked out with a punch to the face by Damien. Vlad told Damien he didn’t like her getting hurt, but also said that she brought it on herself, to which Damien replied that he like Vlad because the latter never made the former hit him.
The Truth about GraceEdit
Ellen and Nanase tried to get back into the Nest, but were having a difficult time getting there since they first found the structure through Grace's communication with the local squirrels. Meanwhile, Grace woke up tied to a chair and in front of Damien. Next to her was a man that Grace recognized; Damien suggested that he tell her what he told him while they waited for her friends to arrive, pointing out that she must have gotten her uniform from somebody. The man told her that he was one of the scientists in charge of designing her brothers; it was revealed that Grace’s 18th birthday was soon, and that she was a Tulougol Seyunolu. Meanwhile, Nanase came up with the idea to go fairy doll in the area of the nest she was aware of, then fly back, leaving a trail of fae glitter to follow back to the Nest. When she got back to her body, Ellen and Nanase followed the trail. Grace asked why she was created, and it was revealed that she was designed to hunt down and kill Damien, as he was the supposed recreation of a fire god from a prophecy involving seyunolu. It was also revealed that the human that was to be used in the creation of Shade Tail was supposed to be a physically fit male, but the man replaced the blood of the intended human donor with that of his dead daughter, creating Grace instead; when he was found out, he was transferred. Damien explained that since Grace's uryuom father had the ability to create eggs without a partner, Grace might also have the ability and confirmed that the man sitting beside Grace was indeed Dr. Sciuridae. Grace became very angry and told Damien that he had killed her uryuom father, Mr. Guyur. Everyone was then distracted by a loud "Skree" sound. A few minutes earlier, Elliot, who was still tied up and being guarded by Guineas, after a vision from Sensei Greg, turned into his female variant #5 form, slipped his bonds then turned back into his normal form. He managed to slip away, but was seen by Guineas at the last moment. Ellen and Nanase walked in the hallway trying to decide whether to first save Elliot or Grace. When they saw Elliot being chased by Guineas, they went after them. They arrived at a large room, followed soon after by Hedge. Hedge tried to keep their presence a secret, but Vlad appeared and let out the loud "Skree" that was was heard by Damien, Grace, and Dr. Sciuridae.
The Brewing StormEdit
Vlad, Hedge and Guineas faced off Nanase, Elliot and Ellen. Elliot changed into his cat form, Hedge changed into his hedgehog form, and they fought each other. Ellen challenged Guineas to a thumb war, since neither could think of a better way to fight. Nanase took to the air, thinking that Vlad needed his wings to fly and therefore couldn't fly indoors. However, Vlad used his feather-antennae beard and showed he could fly with magic as well. Nanase attacked him viciously while Vlad made no attempt to defend himself. When Nanase stopped, he told her that due to the pain of his only attempted human transformation, all other pain is numb. Vlad flew randomly around Nanase until she lost track of his movements, then he flew right up next to her and sonicked her. Nanase lost all equilibrium and plummeted to the ground. When Ellen saw this, she ran to catch her, then used her V5 beam on Vlad, which knocked him out and onto the upper floor. When Damien saw that Vlad was down, he stated that 'this no longer amused him' and told Grace he would kill her friends. This was the final straw for Grace. Overcome with emotion, she assumed her first Omega form, broke free, and savagely attacked Damien from behind.
Fallen From GraceEdit
Grace and Damien squared off. The gang was shocked by how fiercely she was attacking him. Damien was initially surprised and used his flamethrower abilities to engulf Grace in flames; due to Grace's fireproof fur she was unaffected. As Elliot watched, he realized that Damien’s speed-healing and fire-related abilities normally made up for the fact that he had no skill. Damien realized the possibility that Grace had done so much damage to him as to impair his healing ability and therefore, if this were true, then he was not a god. When this occurred to him, he blasted through the roof; Grace used her antennae to take magical flight to follow him, slashing at him on the way up. Grace was about to attack again when she noticed the blood on her hands. When she recalled Damien's initial attack, she regained control over herself, apologized, and begged Damien to surrender. Damien refused and attempted to attack her, but she dodged easily. After seeing that he couldn't touch her, Damien thought that if he was a god, his current body wouldn’t matter, and if he was a mortal, he didn’t want to live, and initiated a kamikaze attack, intending to take Grace down either way. Down below, everyone had stopped fighting because they were waiting to see who would win, and they discovered Dr. Sciuridae amongst the rubble. Back in the sky, Grace was trying to fly away from Damien as he flew towards her; there was a great explosion. When the smoke cleared, Nioi was seen projecting a shield to defend Grace. Nioi told Grace who she was and took her back down to her friends.
Grace and Nioi arrived on the ground, and Grace immediately noticed that Dr. Sciuridae was hurt. When she found out that she had caused that when her assumption of her Omega form had shattered the metal chair, she apologized. Hedge asked about Damien and Elliot asked who Nioi was. Grace told them that Damien had blown himself up and that Nioi was there to help Ellen. She told them more about the Dewitchery Diamond and explained that Ellen’s soul was too young for her body. She sensed that people were approaching, and asked if she could help Ellen. When Ellen said that it sounded good, Nioi nose-beeped her and left via what appeared to be a dimensional portal (this has not been confirmed). Vlad awakened in a female human form, and was shocked when a soldier was not scared of her. Back on the main floor, Commander Jaguar and his squad arrived, having been led by fairy-doll Nanase. Nanase explained why she was in her fairy doll form and why her body wasn’t glowing. The squad checked Dr. Sciuridae and decided to take him in for some tests. Dr. Sciuridae had a talk with Grace about why he didn’t contact her, Grace morphed back to human, this time without her antennae, and Vlad appeared, to show off his new human (albeit female) body. Hedge hugged her and Guineas poked her, and both received a punch for their actions. Vlad asked Grace about how the former's body will alter her shape shifter powers; once told that she would have focus hard to change back, she decided to remain in her new female form rather than risk death. Commander Jaguar told everyone it was time to leave, and when Hedge asked where he and his siblings were supposed to go, Jaguar told them that they would be take them into protective custody and given psychological tests to determine if they were of sound mind. When Grace asked why she never needed such tests, she was told she had; she then remembered Mr. Verres sneakily giving her them. Guineas was forced to turn back into a human, only to be revealed to be an attractive man. Grace and her siblings hugged, and everyone left. When Elliot and Grace arrived home, Tedd rushed over and hugged them while crying; Sarah came over and hugged them as well. Ellen and Nanase talked in the car as Nanase tried to work up enough energy to get into Tedd’s house. Inside, Justin and Susan, now with blonde pigtails, greeted them. Due to the lateness of the night, everyone had to leave, except Nanase, who would be spending the night. When Ellen and Elliot arrived home, they found Nanase in her fairy doll form. While there, Ellen goaded Elliot into turning into his girl form, only to tackle him and call out “Mommy!” purely to annoy him and break the stress. This caused Nanase, who was watching, to be overwhelmed and faint. While Mr Verres was checking on Tedd, he found Grace snuggling against him; he was about to say something, but upon seeing her expression walked away.
- Painted Black was planned from the beginning, with Damien as "a really powerful evil guy" and Grace's brothers being generic in design.
- Originally, Vlad was going to look for Grace by going out and killing to bring her into the open.
- Vlad changed the most physically and mentally, with his fate changing from dying as a villain or as a heroic sacrifice to continuing to live as a non-villainous female.
- Hedge was created "because hedgehogs are cool". His personality came from his search for Grace and later interactions with Elliot.
- Guineas was a guinea pig because one of Dan's friends requested it. He is attractive "because it's funny".
- Damien once had a roman motif with a crown of thorns, but when he was made a fiery fiend, this became impractical. His death came from not wanting to put Grace through his influence again.
- Grace came from a combination of two characters: "Grace", a pre-EGS female friend for Sarah, from whom was derived some aspects of Grace's appearance and name, and "Shade Tail", a blonde character.
- Susan was unconsciously inspired by the personality of the original "Grace" character. In addition, she is a natural blonde, like the original "Shade Tail".