And now to again explain to confused people what is going on in Apartment 3-G. After months of Margo wandering around in a confused and confusing daze, she’s been captured by the Just End The Story Already Fairies. These are blessed people who sometimes haul off and make a serial adventure stop by whatever method gets us out of a plot that might have been promising once but just isn’t working out. In this case the Just End The Story Already Fairies had available Margo’s dead fiancée Eric and Margo’s roommate Lu Ann.
Those aren’t powerful forces to Just End The Story Already with, but they’re making do. Margo was put back in The Apartment I Guess. And Tommie was brought back to examine her, despite Tommie’s declaration that she was quitting everything and leaving the apartment, her friends, her job, whatever it is she has. This might reflect Tommie deciding to postpone her new life in the face of Margo’s crisis. It might equally reflect that even Tommie can’t pay attention to whatever Tommie is going on about. Anyway, Tommie’s declared that Margo needs to get to the hospital. Despite Tommie saying this, this is correct, and by Friday they’ve whisked the action off to an indistinct set of backgrounds the narration box says is the hospital.
Given where this sagging mass of incidents was at the end of last week, this is a reasonable set of story developments. Unfortunately that draws the eye back to the decline in Frank Bolle’s artwork. Monday’s is the most unintentionally funny. The characteristically random arrangement of characters here makes it look like everyone is just watching a deranged Margo wandering around the room. It feels like a scene from a Mel Brooks spoof. Although, on reflection, I think the specific thing it’s reminding me of are the dousing scenes from the marginally competent 1958 movie The Thing That Couldn’t Die. I mean the ones the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew riffed by making revving engine noises.
So naturally the next day Tommie has, presumably, fetched her wireless, receiverless, and sensorless stethoscope. And they all teleport to the street, the better to listen to Margo’s heartbeat. And good grief. I’ve seen the occasional joke that maybe the syndicate is assembling panels out of clip art, or just pulling old stock images out of the library. It’s a hard line to disprove when this happens. I mean, at least wireless stethoscopes are a thing that exists. Draw the generic room backgrounds, or literally no background at all, and a circular dot on Margo’s chest and the art would have actually matched the story.
Where is this leading? Who knows. The elements of Tommie wanting to leave and Margo having some weird extended amnesiac event feel like the sort of thing the strip might do if it were handing off the production to a new writer, or artist, or both. But the strip’s had a couple of similar events in the past few years with nothing coming of them. A couple years ago a crazed boyfriend set off a bomb in the apartment, just before New Year’s; the excuse of the place needing remodeling would be a natural “new showrunner” point. And before that the women got makeovers as part of one of those you-dress-horribly TV shows on the minor cable channels. This defies part of the strip’s premise — that it’s three stylish, hip young women living in the City — but would have been a fair concession to the strip being pretty dowdy and old-fashioned anymore. But the makeovers didn’t figure into anything, and the new outfits and hairdos didn’t last anyway. I suspect that ultimately the Just End The Story Already Fairies will be content if Margo’s psychotic break is put in the past and we go on to … oh, I guess it’s Lu Ann’s turn for a meandering and confused storyline.
That’s enough complaining. Over on the mathematics blog I talk about comic strips too, and since it’s been that sort of week, I talk about them a second time too. Please enjoy not all that ironically.