Ah, the fickle world of publishing, where the trashing of your dream character, just to stir up sales, is a regular event. Where palpable alarm and twisted anger morph instantly into fervid enthusiasm. Look at the guy in the white shirt in panel one–now that’s someone so angry he’s warping his face. Hope it doesn’t stick that way, buddy. Dopey McGlasses, on the other hand, goes from stunned to happy with such ease he even does that Hummel thing with his hands to show how much he loves this idea.
My impression of this arc is that we are meant to disapprove of the way in which publishers demand that characters transform from happy and bright-eyed to dark and gloomy. I hope I’m wrong, because this, coming from the man who writes and draws Funky Winkerbean, is too ironic by half.
Anyway, I’m glad the Mega Men are all enthusiastic. Because the actual readers of this comic strip can share in none of the emotions on display here–not for us the gobsmacked alarm, the face-melting rage, the burning anger (look at GroverShave) or the unbridled enthusiasm of the last panel. Because we’ve all been locked out of this story. It’s people discussing a comic book character we’ve never seen. We don’t know if sales are down, or if the character is in danger of irrelevancy, or if the book might get cut if not for Pete’s clone-strategy. We’ve never seen a bit of Mister Sponge as he is currently, so his new direction means nothing. Even “Sophomore Sightings” made a few appearances in the strip and, apparently, it was not requested that it become dark and dreary like poor Mr. Sponge.
Of course, there is a bright side for us in today’s offering–the surety that we’re not idiots. Today’s strip reminds us that we don’t require t-shirts or easels to know where we are and where we’re working, unlike the intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic who need these things to work at Mega Comics. That easel in particular is great–normally, one might expect a sales chart or something, but that would require actual story-telling ability, a hint of what’s at stake, so instead it’s just the logo. Just sitting there, like a prop. I bet it has to be on display at every meeting or there’s a panic: “Oh Hell, where are we working? What are we doing? Who am us, anyway?”
On second thought, I’m betting this isn’t anywhere near “Mega Comics” headquarters. This is just a bunch of Pete’s friends all play-acting. They’re sitting around wondering why they got fired and fantasizing about being big shots in the comics world.
I think that’s a much better scenario; the only flaw is that it requires Dopey Pete to have friends, which is pushing things a bit far.
And, just to leave you with some entertainment….