Nothing Is Happening In Apartment 3-G: Maybe Things Are Getting Done Not Happening


OK, on my mathematics blog there’s a couple of comic strip review posts. They’re called the Back To School Edition and the Back To School Edition, Part II, because there’s just so many that came up about as school (United States schedule) got really going again.

But I know what folks are really looking for, and that’s any idea of what the heck is going on with Apartment 3-G lately. I insist that nothing is happening because I’ve been following this closely, maybe too closely, and believe me, it’s not going on.

Lu Ann tries to thank Eric, who says he's never been so frightened in his life. Lu Ann confirms that Eric loves Margo.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 16th of September, 2015. I’m fairly sure Eric doesn’t mean to be frightened by Lu Ann’s thanks.

However, it does appear that Margo’s aimless, unfocused wandering through random outdoor stock shots might be at an end. Formerly dead fiancée Eric has gone off and found Margo, and stayed in the two-shot with her until Lu Ann could appear. Then Margo got to disappear, allegedly into the apartment, although we don’t actually see that. Lu Ann and Eric reappear on the street, either because they figure that’s the best place to watch a severely delusional person who’s been wandering aimlessly for months, or because the backgrounds really are being randomly assigned. Tommie gets summoned, as if her presence could help anything, even though the last time we saw her she was talking about quitting everything and leaving forever.

An hour later, after no answer from Tommie, Tommie enters. She wants to know how long Margo has been 'white as a sheet'.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 18th of September, 2015. I’m honestly a touch amazed the strip focused on Tommie entering rather than showing us every minute of waiting around for an hour.

What does it signify? I don’t know. It’s structurally very similar to 2014’s chasm of Apartment 3-G meaninglessness, when Tommie and a guest star spent literally and without exaggeration six weeks telling each other they had to talk without actually talking. During that sequence the designated boyfriend-ish character disappeared to “confront some ghosts” of his past. That might’ve been interesting to see, although we didn’t. He just reappeared after being gone a couple of months and declared things were over.

Both the 2014 and 2015 story voids started out with some potential. 2014 saw a burnt-out Tommie trying to rescue the world’s most nightmarish deer, and stumbling across a crusty-yet-endearing etc upstate veterinarian and the soap opera of his past life. 2015 set up Margo furious and confused by her father and the woman she always thought was the maid but was actually her mother getting married, and falling under sway of a psychic, and wanting to do something about the woman she thinks is scamming her biological mother.

These are potential-rich setups. But they played out with summers of nothing. The parts just shuffled around without advancing for months, and then abruptly stopped. 2014’s crusty-yet-endearing vet came back saying all was well and Tommie went back to work. 2015, apparently, was about putting Margo in a hallucinatory fugue until she got rescued by the first characters to pop into the author’s mind. I would not be surprised if by early October all of this has been dropped and we’ve gone on to some other storyline.

I can’t believe the stories were meant to look like this. The long stretches of random piece-shuffling and the abrupt conclusion make it look like the author (Shulock) had no idea how to advance the stories, but had them planned to last until September. And then forgot when it was close to September and had to rush to wrap up things. Every serial story author does some piece-shuffling and some conclusion-rushing. But this is two major storylines in two years that collapsed.

Recently the Manchester (New Hampshire) Union-Leader dropped the strip, on the grounds that nothing was happening and nothing was going to happen. I can’t fault their reasoning. But I don’t want the story strips to die out. I admit I didn’t care about them as a kid. And in adulthood I’ve seen most of them in a senescent state. But there’s no reason they can’t be good, and I want them to be.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

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