August 16th, 2010

Snarky Candiru2

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

In today's strip, we remind ourselves that even when Elly tries to be sympathetic, she drops the ball owing to her inability to see the world through any viewpoint other than her own.

(Strip Number 4049, Original Publication Date, 18 August 1981)

Panel 1: We start off with Mike telling us why he's bored; it seems that there's nothing to do, nothing on television, nothing to play with and no one around. In other words, it's the bottom half of August.

Panel 2: Since all days are pretty much the same to her, Elly tells him that there's always something to do and that life is too short to waste a second of it. The absurdity of that remark coming from her seems to not have registered.

Panel 3: She then says that he should read a story or make something because she thinks that time is precious.

Panel 4: He reacts by saying that that's because she doesn't have as much left as he does.

Summary: While it's true that Elly is genuinely trying to help here, she simply cannot and will not understand what it's like to be a child facing the bottom of August. Not only has Mike done everything that there is to do and played with his toys until he's sick of them, there's nothing but re-runs on the box and all his friends are being dragged to back-to-school sales by their mothers. As I said, Elly doesn't understand this because as someone who's settled down into a comfortable rut, all her days are the same. As for someone like her talking about wasting time, the absurdity of that is way too obvious; most of her life has been wasted on things like feeling sorry for herself, being pointlessly upset at other people and unproductive and unnecessary busy work.

ETA: The first post-migration banner seems harmless enough but still sort of bugs me; that's because I remember that Farley's remains end up getting buried under the tree in the background.

I'm starting to appreciate Tom Batiuk

For all that his endless cycle of cancerdoomdeathdespair irritates me, there is one thing Batiuk is way better at than Lynn: showing his characters communicating. And creating characters capable of realizing that the world does not revolve around them. And admitting that his characters are flawed. Yeah, okay, Funky is a workaholic who alienates his family, but the reader is supposed to notice this. And he's not taking the right approach with Cory, but it's acknowledged by the other characters that something is wrong, and it's not just a matter of Cory being born bad and the whole situation a lost cause.

Now take this excerpt from Mike Patterson's June 2007 letter: April spends as little time at home as possible. I worry about her. This move is affecting her more than anyone else. She rarely complains but I know she's crying inside. As much as she loves us and the kids, she hates to give up her room, her space, her home.

And picture that situation in the Batiukverse. Suppose Summer had an older sibling who moved in, bringing their spouse and unruly pre-schoolers and turning the house into chaos. No WAY would Les tolerate that for more than a few weeks. It would be brought out in the open, Summer would get to state her case, the other sibling would get to state theirs, and Les would get the last word by saying that what he wanted more than anything was a harmonious household and a family that got along...and that wasn't happening unless this adult, with a spouse and children of their own, accepted their responsibility.

At least the bad things that happen in Westview are acknowledged as bad. I wish TB didn't pile one on top of the other so relentlessly, but it's still better than Lynn setting up dysfunctional situations and just letting them fester. People in Westview who "worry" about friends or family members TELL them so. Why can't people in Milborough do the same?