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Motherfuntime Puppy Dreams And Cookies!

Nine years.

Something*Positive, despite its creator’s attempts to occasionally convince us that he is a walking miasma of doom and bad luck, has continued on for nine years, spawning no less than five spin-offs (although only Super Stupor and Rhymes With Witch see updates these days, leaving we fans of Midnight Macabre, New Gold Dreams and S*P 1938 crying into our booze). It started with a clearly drawn line indicating the limits of questionable taste and immediately (like, in panel #4 of the first strip, out of what by now is probably more than 10,000 panels) pole-vaulted over that sumbitch.

Davan was unlikeable and sarcastic, PeeJee and Aubrey dangerously psychotic, Jason an unrepentant man-whore, and these were the sympathetic characters. But then a funny thing happened slowly, and over time — it’s probably not so much a case of the characters growing on us as much as they just grew up. Not all at once, and not easily, but for all his misanthropic bluster Randy Milholland retains an almost unique ability to find possibilities for redemption in the most assholish of characters.

With the likely exception of Avogadro Pompey, nobody is entirely without some small spark of worth. That he manages this trick with such damaged people (I’m lookin’ at you, Mike) is a sign of his skill; that he doesn’t let such re-makings come cheap, or easily, or to ever quite finish is a sign of his honesty. And I love what he’s done with the character of Davan’s parents, particularly his father.

And having watched the guy interact with fans and maybe-sorta-possibly-future fans at shows, I can tell you that mean ol’ Randy is a teddy bear at heart. The greatest joke is, for all the surface cynicism and darkness that his creations put up to protect themselves, the title of Something*Positive is far more true than any of them are willing to admit. It’s fundamentally an optimistic work, and I’ll wager nobody that reads it regularly — excepting maybe TV’s Wil Wheaton — doesn’t come away from each strip feeling a little smile with each update. Might be from humor, might be from sympathy, for me it’s most often a smile of recognition.

In conclusion, screw you Randy, I got sucked into a six hour archive trawl yesterday and re-read a good chunk of ’02 – ’05 when I should have been doing more productive things. Then again, I got to spend six hours re-reading a good chunk of ’02 – ’05 yesterday, and I can’t thank you enough for that. If holding those two seemingly contradictory thoughts about Milholland in my brain simultaneously confuses you, you just haven’t read enough S*P. Start at strip one. It gets more horrible, and more cheerful, and more painful, and more uplifting, with every strip that goes by. Plus, please be aware that Mr Milholland sells his original artwork at criminally low prices, and the more of you that buy from him, the less he’ll have to tempt me with¹ every time he gets that Daddy needs his drinkin’ money look on his face.

In other news today, two meditations on disease and dying and finding meaning when you don’t think that there’s something bigger than us humans to explain it all for you. Box Brown continues his superlative work on Everything Dies with a look at his friend Ben, how he died, and what it all means. There was a person in Brown’s life, and now there isn’t, and sometimes the only thing we can do is to keep moving and remember. And from Randall Munroe, whether or not the prospect of serious illness (which carries behind it the reminders of mortality) demands comfort beyond the rational, and how (and more importantly, why) science is its own comfort.

¹ Pride of my collection: either the definitive response to women in refrigerators, or “Came a Brain”.

Whoa. An S*P archive trawl is nothing short of heroic. I salute you, sir.

Now I’m going to have to use all my willpower not to attempt the same thing.

I always find it funny that Randy uses the first page to “market” S*P at cons. I get why he does it (to warn people), but S*P is so much more than twisted jokes. For all of his avowed grumpiness and comic violence, Randy has always struck me as a dyed in the wool optimist.

Awwww, thanks for the nice words, Gary.

PS – I’m gonna make less than consensual love to your mustache. <3

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