I’m going to focus on Paul Wright for the moment. What do we know really about him? He’s a police officer and is of Irish and Native heritage. But going through the archives, there’s not much background. His parents used to take him on a Powwow Trail while he was growing up, where he would hang out with Susan. But even here where the Patterclan bombard him with questions (And don’t even give him a chance to answer before barraging him with the next one), we get no answers on who Paul really is:
What’s his favorite food? His favorite color? Preferred genre of music? Dogs or cats? Coke or Pepsi? Boxers or briefs? Little details like this are a part of a fully rounded character but Paul’s a blank slate. To contrast another love interest from another comic, here’s Denise Russo from Foxtrot.
I know she’s blind, Peter’s girlfriend, and sixteen years old, but I also know she likes Vivaldi and Mozart, has family in Italy (where she’s visited), and is an only child who lives with both her mother and father. Already we’re light years of Paul and that’s just the stuff I remembered off the top of my head.
But as it turns out, Lynn’s Golden Boy Anthony is also pretty lacking in the details. By the way, I’m going by what’s in the strip, not the site bio.
Over 15 years (1993 to 2008), Anthony graduates high school and university, gets a job pumping gas for Gordon but is promoted to bookkeeper...
Gets married, has Francie, gets divorced, and gets married again. He has 250 more strips than Paul, ostensibly more opportunity for character development, but if you think this is taken advantage of...you must be new. Welcome. Pull up a chair. Have some cocoa. Here’s some migraine medication, you’re going to need it.
Young Anthony liked cars...
Big slushy deal. So does every other red blooded male in Lynn’s universe. Moving on.
In one strip we learn he likes astronomy. I don’t know if it’s because Anthony’s supposed to be a neeeerd and that’s what neeeerds like or if it was just to set up the damn pun. Probably the latter, but it doesn’t matter because it’s never brought up again.
In exactly two strips out of the two hundred and eighty one that the archive says he appears in, we learn that Anthony likes ballroom dancing. One of those strips was the Strip of Destiny. Too Little, Too Late.
Oh by the way, ballroom dancing? “See, see? Anthony really is the perfect man! All the other icky men won’t take their wives dancing! I know! I did a series of strips on it!”
“But Anthony will dance with Liz! He’ll sweep her off her feet like Prince Charming and Cinderella at the ball! See? See? HE’S PERFECT!!! WHY WON’T YOU LOVE MY ANTHONY YOU PICKY FACES?!?”
Here’s the “Check” strip. Notice anything missing?
How about anything that tells me about WHO Anthony is (Or Liz for that matter but let’s stick with Anthony)? I know from the website that Liz hates turnips. Anthony, do you love this woman enough that you’re willing to forgo turnips from your diet the rest of your life? Because you look like the kind of guy who enjoys a good turnip.
In all seriousness, do you have allergies (I’m willing to bet my home you do)? Any emotional baggage, from childhood or beyond? Any religious convictions that would require certain life sacrifices, IE are you a Jehovah's Witness? Nothing? Just this list, huh? “Why, these items you’ve put down are vague and generalized concepts that almost everybody is looking for in a partner! My soulmate!”
Again, just like Paul, I know next to nothing about Anthony. His likes and dislikes, his family (Other than Therese and Francie and a one time mention of his mother near the end), his life, all left to the imagination.
From what we’ve seen Paul is just as lackluster, just as underdeveloped as Anthony. True Paul is as handsome as it gets in the world of the Foobs and Anthony earned the “Granthony” nickname but personality wise both of them are as dull as dirt. So why the Anthony hate?
BECAUSE ANTHONY DID THIS.
Let’s take a walk through the Anthony Hall of Hits. Unfortunately none of it will involve hitting Anthony.
Whenever Lynn tries to gives Anthony any development, he invariably comes off looking like a creep, a jerk, a pervert, or all of the above. And I still know next to nothing about him!
So given the choice between bland and handsome and bland and unattractive with occasional instances of complete jackassed-ness, I’ll take bland and handsome. Then again, maybe Paul got off easy. If this is Lynn’s idea of good character development, maybe Paul’s lucky he’s just bland. He could’ve been ended up just as loathsome as Anthony.