When last we looked in on Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G the flow of time had broken down entirely, with something like ten months of reader time taking about two days in-strip. I was willing to let that pass. Margo was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, and her dead fiancée Eric was sent out to tell her parents.
This past week has seen Eric, who spent months (our time) hovering around a confused Margo without telling her who he was or why he was there, doing his bang-up job communicating Margo’s condition to her parents. To be fair, he did meet Margo’s Dad. In the daily strips Margo’s Dad turned out to be Eric drawn from the other side. In the Sunday recap it turned out Margo’s Dad was Eric but fifteen years younger. He got them to the hospital, which appears to be the same room as the diner and every apartment in the strip. Margo’s Dad suggested they go outside for no reason other than the strip was going to start being drawn outside anyway. Margo’s Mother didn’t understand this, or why Eric wouldn’t come along, and they started bickering.
They kept this up all week, ultimately making Tommie appear out of the aether to join them in squabbling. Tommie asserts that Margo’s taken a turn for the worse. This might be because she disappeared on the streets back on the 22nd of September and wasn’t seen since. Invisibility will complicate even the simplest of medical conditions.
The storytelling has been stumbling ahead all right. The Eric-and-Margo’s-Parents thing looked like action without actually being anything. But it’s at least consistent with Eric’s incompetence at telling people things he is aware they ought to know. And Margo taking a turn for the worse is at least a development, placed reasonably at Thursday, a spot where it can be reiterated enough times for people to get that it happened.
The art continues its sad decay. Margo’s Dad — Martin — may have swapped ages with Eric; I’m honestly not sure. That’s been more or less consistent for the week, at least. Margo’s Dad suggesting they leave the Apartment Diner Hospital in favor of outside almost looks like writer Margaret Shulock working around artist Frank Bolle’s background shifts. When they suddenly start Wednesday’s strip outside the reader can suppose the characters chose to go outside and we were spared the details of the decision. The backgrounds look almost natural.
This implies that characters are now going to start suggesting they change their locations, so that when the backgrounds do inevitably shift it’ll have some narrative justification. This also implies the conversations will turn into a series of characters saying, “Let’s go to the diner”, being answered, “Let’s go outside”, and countering, “Let’s go to the apartment”, with nothing ultimately happening. I am not sure this is worse than the actual dialogue, which this week ran something like this:
Margo’s Mom (Gabby): What about you, Eric? Why don’t you come with us?
Eric: That’s very kind, Gabby. Maybe later.
Margo’s Mom: Why later? Do you know something we don’t?!
Margo’s Dad (Martin): Calm down, Gabby. You’re scaring yourself for no good reason.
[Suddenly outside] Margo’s Mom: You don’t understand how a mother suffers! You have no feelings, Margin!
Margo’s Dad: I’m not going to fight with you, Gabby. There’s no point.
Eric: Martin and Gabby, please don’t argue. We’re all very upset.
Margo’s Mom: See, Martin?
I know a story stalling for time when I see it.
So that’s this week’s action, for all who are confused. Margo’s Parents are now aware that she’s in distress, and is getting worse. And they’ve apparently gone to one of those famous Hospitals Without Walls, so it just looks like everything is happening outdoors. They’re in front of that car that might be pointing either direction.