June 02, 2008
One comic I read faithfully is Ctrl+Alt+Del. It's a comic you either love or hate, it seems, and I've enjoyed it, though I've wondered sometimes where the funny was. The latest plotline has main characters Ethan and Lilah awaiting the birth of their first child and planning their marriage, all at the same time. Ethan is a bit (understatement) immature, and is often distracted, so it's been funny. And without commenting on the order of operations (pregnancy then marriage), it's been an interesting read.
Today, a curve ball was thrown. Spoilers here. Read the comic first.
The entire storyline has been focusing on two different issues. First, we see Lilah's maternal instincts. She is, after all, a pro gamer -- she actually enters tournaments and makes money playing Halo 3 and things like that. She's shifting into mother mode, and it's been an interesting direction for her character to go in. But second, we've seen Ethan being ... Ethan. Not the most responsible guy, not the most focused. He's goofy. And he's worried about what kind of father he's going to be. Just when you think he's starting to realize what it all means, it goes away.
Today's comic was a gut-shot. Never saw it coming, and I was stunned enough to put off mowing the lawn to write this about it. The fact that nobody is really saying anything makes the impact that much bigger -- it's a lot like the way Sluggy Freelance's Pete Abrams sometimes uses a splash of red in a black and white comic (for those who don't read Sluggy, think Frank Miller's Sin City instead).
Comics today reflect real life. We don't always like that -- from what Tim Buckley has written at his blog, he's expecting some upset email about this strip. People don't like the idea that their "gaming comic" talks about things other than gaming. But as Tim said, the comic is about gamers. They have lives outside of gaming, and those lives are important. And interesting. And bad things often happen.
PvP had something similar happen. In the midst of a wedding, a happy time, the strip lost a long-time character, and a fan favorite. And there is denial, and outcry. People don't like life invading their entertainment.
But even webcomics are art, and one of the purposes of art is to hold a mirror up to life. And life isn't always pretty, or happy, or good. And I, for one, look forward to seeing how these characters deal with the curve ball that their creators have thrown them.
Sometimes, the Creator throws curve balls to His creation, just to see if we know how to respond. Not because He doesn't know -- He does. But it's one thing for us to think we know how to react to temptation and trial, and another thing entirely to actually be faced with a problem and react to it the way we're supposed to. Abraham's an example of that. We face bad situations all the time -- our faith is shown in how we respond to that trial.
(And don't worry -- I'll probably have something on PvP's current teenage-premarital-sex plotline sometime soon. I'm waiting to see how Kurtz deals with it.)
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