Nothing Is Happening In Apartment 3-G: And It Will Stop November 22nd

It appears that the final day for Apartment 3-G has been set, and it’s even sooner than I imagined. According to a comment posted to the ComicsKingdom site back on Tuesday:

Thanks for your message. Apartment 3-G will be ending on Sunday, November 22, 2015. We appreciate all of the support the strip has received from readers over the years, and especially in response to the news of its cancellation.
–The Comics Kingdom Team
support [at ] comicskingdom [dot ] com

So let me first get in my plug while the plug-getting is good. My mathematics blog has another installment of The Set Tour. This week’s essay will get you warmed up in the field of differential equations, too. And a few days ago I had another Reading the Comics installment, which doesn’t explain Apartment 3-G. Sorry.

Back to the cancellation, though. The lead time for syndicated comic strips is a bit of a mystery. Its length seems to vary with the strip, with how far ahead the artists are able to work, and which house Jupiter has entered. We can infer it for daily-joke and news-based comics when they react to current events. Sometime between three and eight weeks after the event, we see illustrations of the same jokes the late night talk shows did in their monologues the night of the breaking news. Soap opera strips barely need to acknowledge the real world, and generally don’t.

But it seems plausible that the sudden intervention of the Just End The Story Already Fairies coincided with the cancellation notice coming down. We did get, finally, to snap out of Margo Wandering Around Random Landscapes, get her diagnosed with a hyperthyroidism, and then have her suffer a “thyroid storm” that she recovered from in under a week. Story strips just don’t work that fast.

Greg pops in, unaware he was dropped from the strip. Margo wakes up, unaware that she's in a hospital bed, and asks for 'the man who loves me'.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 1st of November, 2015. Greg, who isn’t just Eric wearing a different jacket, stops in despite having been dropped from the strip two years ago. Margo has taken the chance to come out of her “thyroid storm” coma, freshen up, get dressed, and decide that since the strip is ending she’ll just wrap it up with whichever of the estimated 75 boyfriends she’s had is nearest to her.

So the question is: is Shulock trying to wrap up all the lingering stories before the cancellation? Because I don’t see how that’s possible, even at the breakneck pace of one or two plot points a week. Margo has to get out of the hospital. There’s whatever her relationship with dead fiancée Eric is to deal with. Margo’s (biological) parents are getting married, and they wanted her to arrange the affair since her most recent job was wedding planner. Margo wanted to break up her (biological) mother’s relationship with a presumably-fake psychic adviser. If that weren’t enough Margo’s other ex-boyfriend Greg has just popped in. And in non-Margo news, Tommie declared she’s quitting her (nursing) job and selling out her share of the apartment. (The Apartment 3-G leads own the building they live in.) Also, presumably, Lu Ann is doing something or other, because she gets into trouble when she’s left unsupervised.

Greg, apparently superfluous extra guy in the comic, tells Margo how he missed her. Margo says she's okay after her year spent crazy and asks how 'that other fellow' is doing.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 5th of November, 2015. Margo may not be out of the hospital yet. It’s hard to tell, with settings here. But she’s clearly feeling better. She’s been able to change outfits and cruelly ignore the person who’s talking to her. You know, since the guy she’s ignoring here is, in-universe, the new James Bond, that makes Margo’s references to ‘The Man Who Loves Me’ earlier in the week sound like a slightly corrupted James Bond reference and somehow a stranger vague put-down.

I don’t see how there could be time to deal with all this. For comparison, this past week — a busy one, by soap opera strip standards, with Eric, Greg, Tommie, Margo’s Parents, and Margo all doing things they hadn’t before — only actually resolved that Margo had been in a coma. I figure on the Tommie and the psychic plots being forgotten if they haven’t been already. Margo maybe embraces the job of planning her parents’ wedding after all and promises to better relate with the men rushing into her life now, and go out on some kind of ending.

The thing is, I can’t quite square that with Shulock bringing Greg back in. There was already a heavy load of dangling story. Why bring Greg in for the last three weeks of the comic strip? He’d already been broken up with Margo for vague reasons and I don’t think he’d appeared in the comic for two calendar years. And why have Margo confused about who she’s seeing and who she’s talking to? That would be a tolerable enough story if they had time for stories, but they don’t, so, what the heck is going on? And why do some people have difficulty seeing Eric — which would be a marker that he was a ghost or some hallucinatory presence — while other folks don’t?

To paraphrase Tom Servo, watch out, we’ve got a lot of plot threads flying around loose here. Someone could get hurt.

Greg doesn't understand who 'the other fellow' is. Margo says it's the 'beautiful man with the white hair', in case anyone meets that description.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 6th of November, 2015. Perhaps Margo isn’t yet ready to leave the hospital room with its impressionistic paintings of Pogo’s Albert Alligator on the wall. But she’s clearly heading that way, unless the door turns out not to be in Saturday’s strip. Also happening this week: Margo’s parents agree that she would love to see dead fiancée Eric, who begs off breakfast because he has plans. Based on his movements this past year, his plans involve never letting her see him while she’s in a non-delusional state. Refusing to be seen when non-delusional is a common early warning sign that someone is in an unhealthy relationship.

So I can’t say it’s impossible that the comic strip is just going to stop, mid-story. It may all be left dangling around until Joe Staton and Mike Curtis send Dick Tracy over for a posthumous crossover. And yes, I’m aware that Mary Worth and The Phantom are doing a crossover this week, and that nothing’s happening in that. It’s just not so good a nothing as this.

Author: Joseph Nebus

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

5 thoughts on “Nothing Is Happening In Apartment 3-G: And It Will Stop November 22nd”

  1. I don’t think they’d planned to stop Nov 22nd. There’s a 6 week lead time, right? At the speed this stuff is melting down, to where the figures aren’t recognizably human and the backgrounds completely random, I think they got the strip for the 23rd & said : We can’t run this.

    Yes, I realize what they have run for the last year. I’m talking Sean Connery on Jeopardy bad.


    1. Yeah, six weeks is what people say is comic strip lead time. Well, let’s see. Six weeks ahead of the 22nd was … the 11th of October. Well, that does coincide with when Eric and Margo’s Dad became two expressions of the same body, so maybe that is when Comic Strip Master Command decided to call the whole thing off.

      Maybe the strip for the 22nd finally sees everybody turned into the same figure, seen from the neck above, in front of a featureless background and at that point it’s not even a comic strip anymore. It’s just one of those jokes cartoonists used to make about minimalist strips like Peanuts or Miss Peach.

      And, yes. Every time you compare the art to what it was three months before, it’s astounding how much worse it’s gotten. And we thought it was awful last year with the kangaroo-deer-demon thing.


  2. It’s full Ionesco at this point. Honestly, the best ending would be Tommie pulling the plug on Margo, who’s been hallucinating everything while on a ventilator.


    1. It is getting incredibly bad, yes. We have reached the rare point where the story would be more satisfying if characters woke up declaring they’d been eating too much rarebit.

      Well, only two more reviews of the strip’s degeneration to go, it appears.


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