Nothing Is Happening In Apartment 3-G: A Statement That Will Be Only More True After Tomorrow


Apartment 3-G is, by all reports, to end on Saturday, the 21st of November. I am sincerely sad, and not just because people trying to find out what was with the plotless void of the summer have driven my readership to all-time highs. Well, they’re only all-time highs so far. I don’t like seeing long-running stuff end. I especially don’t like seeing them end on sad, pathetic notes.

And before I forget: Over my mathematics blog I look over recent comic strips and discuss their mathematical themes. I’ve also been giving a tour of sets that mathematicians use a lot as domains and ranges for functions. Please give them a try.

Back to business. What’s the final week of Apartment 3-G held, though? It seems to be trying to make an honest attempt at tying down as many of the loose plot threads as it can, finally. On Monday the narration box opened with the declaration “Four Weeks Later, At Their House … ” to show Margo’s parents talking. This time-jump to get away from the mess of unresolved stories is something the strip has used before.

In this 2013 sequence, a homemade bomb explodes in the Apartment 3-G room. Greg, Margo's boyfriend of the time, wakes, dresses 'hastily', and summons help.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 23rd of January, 2013. The revealing thing about this nearly-three-year-old sequence was that bomb-setter Evan was deeply jealous of this “Eric” whom Margo kept talking about in her sleep. I honestly had not noticed at the time that Margo so remembered her dead fiancé as to be dreaming about him. This makes dead fianceé Eric’s return to haunting her without ever speaking to her in a non-delusional state somehow even worse.

A couple years back a crazed boyfriend of one of Margo planted a bomb that blew up in a charming Christmastime vignette. (Because of comic strip time, the event actually happened a month after Christmas, but that’s not doing too badly.) The comic strip took this promising chance to tell stories about where the characters lived and what they did, presumably separately, while the building was repaired, and the presumably interesting police and court action to follow, and piddled it down its leg. After some admittedly exciting rescue scenes and a few hospital scenes in the burn ward, we got a narrative box that it was “a few weeks later”. Everyone moved back in to an apartment that looked just like it had before.

Still, jumping ahead a couple weeks is an efficient way of getting story threads nailed down quickly. You can just drop anything you don’t have time to deal with. A character can fill in anything essential Mad Libs style. They mention they’re happy now that ___(DEAD FIANCEÉ ERIC)___ has gone back to ___(BEING DEAD IN HIMALAYALAND)___. That reads like a resolution and takes almost no time.

Margo's mother Gabby tells psychic Diane that she should've known she was going to be fired.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 17th of November, 2015. Part of the farewell tour of beloved Apartment 3-G characters such as the lamp, affectionately known as Lampy; the various dressers with knickknacks; and what might be a wine decanter of some kind or possibly a lost genie bottle in the first panel? Anyway, if the laws of perspective held, that’d be a pretty tall dresser to put stuff on top of. It was in this strip that I realized that at some point within the past year, Gabby has in earnest delivered “I know you are but what am I?” as a retort.

Monday through Thursday was entirely Margo’s parents talking to one another, violently not making eye contact while taking a tour of the few random backdrops left to the artwork. Granted the things Margo had been thinking about, before her eight-month sojourn through the Manhattan wastelands, had all related to her parents’ wedding and her mother’s falling under the spell of a fake psychic. It’s still an odd choice to have the last week of the comic strip basically feature none of the main cast.

Gabby, Margo’s mother, broke up with her fake psychic because of the reasons, so that’s one storyline and the proximate cause of Margo’s breakdown resolved. And the Martin/Gabby wedding is apparently on, since they speak of “our” wedding on Wednesday. They speak of this prominently enough that only the reader who’s ever read any other piece of fiction, ever, would suspect this was setting up for a double Martin/Gabby and Margo/Greg-or-possibly-dead-Eric-who-died-of-death wedding to close out the comic strip’s run.

Gabby is so happy at how Margo looks that she could cry. Martin agrees they're lucky to have their daughter.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 19th of November, 2015. Possibly our last view of that strange kind of pine-needley plant that gets dropped in wherever the white void of nothingness gets a little too much for the comic strip. Also I think Gabby and Martin are wearing the same outfit but in different colors. This makes it remarkable that the randomly applied flood-filling that’s done to colorize the daily comics managed to get the colors correct literally every panel this week.

Thursday takes place in a nearly featureless void, with a plant growing out of the date box. It would be appropriate for the start of a double wedding ceremony. Granted, Gabby and Martin aren’t dressed for a wedding, certainly not one they’d be part of. They’re more dressed to experience that vague awkwardness of maybe being a little overdressed for TGI Fridays without being actually, clearly, too dressed up for it.

So, of course, having teased the idea of a double wedding Friday dashes that. Margo makes her first appearance in a week and a half to say she isn’t marrying Greg, who she wasn’t planning to marry even before she spent 2015 wandering around a featureless void.

Gabby tells Margo how Greg adores him. Margo explains that she's not marrying him.
Frank Bolle and Margaret Shulock’s Apartment 3-G for the 20th of November, 2015. I choose to believe that Gabby is watching Margo in the mirror, just in case Margo reveals herself to be a vampire. Meanwhile Margo reveals herself not to be interested in marrying Greg, because she’s saving herself for her dead fianceé Eric, or she’s hoping the strip will get rebooted as a CBS Digital Download next year. Also because she thinks someone was proposing she get married to Greg?

Obviously this’ll be the last Friday-night-Eastern-Time post recapping the nothing happening in Apartment 3-G. I do mean to have some closing thoughts, after the final strip posts. I don’t suppose there’s another story strip likely to capture the strange baffling charm of the last few years of Apartment 3-G.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Nothing Is Happening In Apartment 3-G: A Statement That Will Be Only More True After Tomorrow”

  1. I actually thought that he meant that his 3G phone was on fire. I mean, it’s plausible. Think how hard that ancient phone has to work just to keep up in today’s marketplace.

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    1. You know, back in 2013, I’d have accepted that interpretation. We really had no idea how much more impressionistic and outright evasive the art and writing was going to get.

      … I’m not sure what generation my phone is. It’s from that era where I leave it in my messenger bag for weeks, and then discover the battery’s gone dead. It doesn’t catch on fire much.

      Liked by 1 person

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