Friday, April 13, 2012

Newspaper Comics #9

The last Newspaper comic review was focused on Get Fuzzy, a comic I promptly said was like a webcomic, with the edge taken off.  I stand by it, it is very much like a lot of webcomics I read, such as Out At Home, which has a similar feel, though as a webcomic it still has its edge.  Get Fuzzy isn't the only webcomic style comic in my paper.  There's at least 2 more, and the one I'm going to talk about today is 9 Chickweed Lane.

I'm not going to tell you it is like a webcomic, because it IS a webcomic.  That edge is still there, sharp as ever and is a delightful addition to the army of zombie and legacy comics that dominate the funny pages.  Or it would be if it wasn't stuck in amongst the classified ads.  Why is it there?  Well, a while ago they did a storyline about one of the characters as she was during World War II.  To add to the atmosphere, they made the comic black and white.  There are no black and white comics in the funny pages of my paper, so they pulled it from the funny pages because, well, they're dicks.  The comic is in color again, BTW, but it's still in the classifieds, buried amongst ads for used cars.

This hasn't stopped the comic from being it's own thing, if anything it's enhanced it.  There is something very, adult about the comic.  There's implied sex throughout, adult situations, the jokes, even the weird ones, aren't made for children to understand.  That might be part of the reason the comic hasn't returned to the funny pages either (this region is so backwards, honestly).  There's no outright nudity, no porn (soft or otherwise), and no violence either.

Artwise, the comic is good, and the artist has a lot of skill in drawing bodies.  Often there will be entire pages devoted to showing a single position of one of the characters (two of the main characters are ballet dancers) or of the cat who's owner I'm not clear about.  Faces, however, are all, well, pretty much the same.  Especially the females who all have the same structure for the head and face, which often makes identifying them difficult, though clothing helps a great deal and when it's in color, the color of the hair helps as well.  The guys don't suffer nearly as much, but they often feel far stiffer than the ladies, and when stripped of things like beards and glasses, they also look pretty much alike.

The stories though, are not alike, or even similar to many I've come across in other comics.  The first one that I remember reading is when about a nun and a priest who fell in love, left their church and had a baby.  While I'm sure this story has been out there before (it would almost have to be), I don't recall ever seeing it in a newspaper comic of any kind.  Especially not in a paper in this shockingly conservative part of the country.  The story set in WWII featured the grandmother character (when she was young) acting as a spy and falling in love (and getting pregnant) with a German prisoner of war.  The most recent story, currently has the granddaughter confronted with the fact that she is pregnant and. . .

Suddenly I see a pattern here.  Probably just happenstance, honestly, as there have been other stories that don't involved people getting pregnant, these just stand out because how often do stories like this actually show up in comics?  I know Blondie did it, they wouldn't have kids otherwise but that was 50 years ago, and has For Better or Worse done it, but recently?  Within the last 20 years?  I can't think of one.  9 Chickweed Lane did 3 in the last 6 years.

And it's not taken lightly, or as if the entire thing is a joke, though small jokes are made.  It's serious, life changing, life shattering things.  At the same time, they continue to live.  The most recent story does feature the main character, a ballet dancer and model, becoming pregnant, but there's also some evidence that she's about to be fired from both jobs.  Her life will completely change, and she only knows half of it.  When the other shoe drops, it will hit with a shattering thud.

The comic will change, and change hard.  What happens next, I don't know, it's a comic that can't be predicted as easily as the rest of the comics.  Get Fuzzy will still have Bucky and Satchel next week.  For Better or Worse is almost in zombie mode at this point.  Even one of the other quasi-webcomic newspaper comics is reasonably predictable.  9 Chickweed Lane is not, and that's part of the fun and interest it holds for me.

So there it is, a webcomic in print form.  I hope it's not alone (there is another that is kind of a webcomic).  It should be noted that 9 Chickweed Lane does have a spinoff/cousin that IS a webcomic, Pigborn.  I have never read it, and likely never will.  After all, I have the print version, and that's good enough for me.

Next time, um, I'll do something.  Until then kiddies.

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