Friday, December 23, 2005

Dangit, how come I always end up talking about the same comics that Websnark does at the same *time* that Websnark does?

(From Something Positive. Click for full sized ending of year four!)

What struck me about this comic was not the fact that it was totally awesome.

It was a great way to end the year, I'm not saying it wasn't. Randy Milholland always somehow finds a way to make the end of the year memorable and powerful, and this year was no exception. The whole twist with PeeJee getting chicken pox and Davan delaying his flight and moving heaven and earth with the huge convoluted plan with the wedding ring (which was pretty humorous in its own right, as well, which is impressive, because this whole run of strips has been pretty heavy with the drama) to come to see her in the hospital and everything was great and all, and PeeJee's tired smile in the fifth panel was really sweet, but it wasn't what really struck me about this particular comic.

What struck me, for some reason, is how much Davan looks like his father.

I mean, look at him. He's tired, with circles under his eyes, which kind of echo of his father's wrinkles, and the shadow of stubble also serves to make him look a bit older than he actually is. And, besides impressing the heck out of me regarding Milholland's artistic prowess to get it just right, this got me to thinking a bit about S*P in general and Davan in particular.

As Something Positive has grown and changed, the characters, too have grown and evolved. They've gone through some good times, and quite a few more bad times. This has caused many people, incidentally, to give S*P labels such as "mean" or "pessimistic", which I don't agree with. There's too much stuff like this past storyline. For example. For every strip like this, with PeeJee crying quietly in the darkness, there's also strips like the above. Yeah, there's depression. There's still "the overwhelming crappiness that is life" bearing down on our fearless heroes. But in this strip, as well as in many others, there's too much of a feeling of... cheerfulness.

Yeah, you heard me. I just used the word cheerful to describe Something Positive. This is because, though bad things happen consistently and the characters often feel lost, lonely, unloved, sick, tired, and generally crushed by the weight of the world, I've always gotten a general impression from S*P that despite everything that happens, there are still good things about life. I think one of the reasons that S*P strikes a chord with so many people is not that it's ridiculously pessmistic, but rather that it is realistic. Randy Milholland is not afraid to show life the way that it really is: negative things happen, but that doesn't mean that in the end something... positive can't appear.

And this opinion of mine is illustrated perfectly by this last run of strips. Davan has been, I believe, feeling more and more left behind as time has gone by. PeeJee, Aubrey, Jason, and the lot have been growing and evolving, but it's quite obvoius that Davan feels like he's stagnating. He misses the old days more and more and doesn't feel like he can get them back. As he says, in a lot of ways his life is better than it was before. But he still feels like there's something worse waiting around the corner.

But then comes along today's strip, and suddenly, I think, he sees everything a little clearer, if only for a little while. He's remembered that he does have friends and he still loves them and would do anything for them, whatever that means. He lets PeeJee know that he's remembered that, and for the first time in a long time, she smiles. A real, genuine smile.

Not that this doesn't mean bad stuff won't happen tomorrow. But right now? Even though Davan's exhausted and cranky and PeeJee's got chicken pox and a triple digit fever, this still manages to be one of the good moments.

This is good stuff, guys. Very good stuff.


Blogger tedzsee said...

Good essay. I was never a Something Positive convert. Recently, however, I've begun to see that it is really similar to a lot of comics I read (and even to my own comic, to be honest), and so I thought, "Why am I not reading this comic again?"

Maybe it's time to give it a try.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Kneefers said...

I'd highly recommend it. It took me three false starts before I got into it, but it's good stuff all the way once you get going.

8:34 PM  
Blogger denny said...

i sure hope that there is no catastrophe looming, with davan being suddenly the romantic interest of two girls -- and knowing his ability to make decisions...

well, heck. we will see in year 5.

7:58 PM  

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