I complain a lot. I know I do. It’s part of the nature of the Internet. We all do it. Griping about stuff is a way of getting things off our chest and relieving a bit of stress. It’s a form of social bonding, too.
Like most things, it should probably be done in moderation, and as part of a balanced internet experience.
I’m going to make a concerted effort to anti-complain. I think it’s called complimenting. It’s a rather new Internet concept that I hope takes off.
I just sent a fan-letter to Randal Milholland, the artist being Something*Positive. I found his comic during some sad times– when going through my high-school friend Mary’s Facebook page shortly after she passed away in 2008. She had her list of favorite comics, one of them being S*P. I read a lot of webcomics, but hadn’t heard of that one. I hit the archives, and devoured them.
Fair warning: the comic isn’t for everyone. It has a self-admittedly sheen of “mean spirit” about it. But it’s just a surface sheen that is otherwise ironic, given the very touching nature of the comic itself. Randal does an amazing job with dialogue, relationships and character development. You would hardly expect a comic that started with an abortion joke to have a heart-warming, Lizard-Happy love arc. Friendship and family are very powerful themes in the comic. I certainly understand why Mary enjoyed it so much.
Exactly how well Randal does character arcs really hit home on the June 20th, 2013 strip. Back near the end of 2006, there was a strip where one of Davan’s ex-gf shows up after 6 years with a 6 year old. CLIFFHANGER– that is quickly resolved with a negative paternity test. But the characters Donna and Rory stayed in the strip. Then, over the course of 6.5 years, Davan slowly grows into the role of mentor and father-figure to Rory. Now, you know how this would go in the hands of a lesser writer. We’ve all seen it. The two characters would have a single, zany adventure, they’d both Learn Valuable Lessons, there’d be a sudden and unbelievable shift in their relationship, and the story would be over.
Instead Randal does an amazing job showing their relationship growing and changing over time. I do believe I mentioned the 6.5 years thusfar, right? RIGHT? It never feels forced, never feels movie-of-the-week. It doesn’t all go smoothly. It’s real, it’s sometimes tough, and it’s a very satisfying arc.
The pinnacle of which happened on the aforementioned June 20th, 2013 strip, after a very nice Father’s Day story line. And it happened in a single word, when Davan refers to Rory as “boy”. It’s the same pet name/term of endearment Davan’s father uses when talking to Davan. It’s something that is just completely ingrained into Davan and his father’s relationship. Other writers would spent pages upon pages of text spelling out the meaning of the nickname, and how Davan now sees Rory as his own son the way he is a son to his own father, etc, etc. Randal instead acknowledged it, showed it and advanced the relationship of these two characters with a single word.
Something*Positive is full of great moments like this. The characters are great, the storylines are great– everything about Randal’s writer’s craft is great. So thank you, Randal Milholland, for creating 13 years of well crafted and touching art.