Friday, August 14, 2015

Retrospective: Punch an' Pie

Last week, Punch an' Pie came to an end.  Yes, it's another entry in this the year of Retrospectives.  And oddly another comic that I've been following pretty much from the beginning.

It also established my general review guideline:  no review until after 1 year or 100 strips.  Because I stared reading it less than 2 weeks after it started, and no, I didn't read Queen of Wands until two years later, so that wasn't a jumping off point for me.  While it worked out, Punch an' Pie proved to be pretty damn good, it could have easily backfired.  So I established the rule some time afterwards, since by then I realized how dumb it was of me to have done that.

Still, the comic did turn out to be quite good, so I guess I didn't screw up that badly.  The result is a comic I can't really straight up call unique, but am actually at a loss to find anything that's quite like it.  I guess Between Failures fits best, but for every point of comparison between the two, there are several that counter it.  Similar enough though, even to the point that the most important moment in the comic is in color, but then it goes back to black and white after that.

It's not a comic about plots as much as it's about characters, mostly Heather and Angela, but also the people around them and their interactions.  There are storylines, I guess, but they're not really divided up into anything distinct.  There are no chapters, no parts, the only markers are the shift from Angela to Heather and back, which makes up the structure of the entire comic.

That structure starts with Angela and Heather in a very loving relationship, then they break up and don't see each other again, directly, until the end of the comic.  Instead the comic follows each of them, jumping back and forth, as they go about their lives.  They never really forget each other, but they never seek the other out.  When they split, I remember thinking that they'll be back together soon enough, but it never happened, and that was intentional.

While Heather and Angela don't directly interact for the length of the comic, the people they meet throughout do cross from one to the other.  Karen, Heather's coworker at the zoo, eventually gets a job at Angela's toy store.  Lucy, who worked with Angela at the bookstore coffee shop, fosters a relationship with Heather (one that is both good and bad for her).  It's interesting to watch all this happen, and the comic does well with it.

I could see the comic going on longer, but the last few years have, um, not been kind.  The comic was a partner strip, one did the writing and the other the drawing, and the writer kind of ran out of time to do it.  Updates extended for months at one point, which is terrible for a comic that started life as a 3 day a week strip.  In the end, the artist took over the final scripting, and finished the comic up.  The ending is satisfying and the fitting for the comic.

Punch an' Pie (which I'm pretty sure I misspelled repeatedly in the past, ah well) is probably one of the better comics I've read and I recommend it highly.  I even went back and reread the whole thing just for this retrospective and found it was just as good throughout it's run as I remember.  While I am sad to see it go, along with so many others, the time had come and I'm glad I had a chance to read it from beginning to end.

Next time, probably Touching Base as I spent all week rereading Punch an' Pie rather than more Errant Story.  Whoops. . .  Until then kiddies.

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