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Eric: On the other side, have you noticed there's a lot of single parenthood in this strip? I'm not saying that's bad. I'm just saying it's true.


(From Ozy and Millie. Click on the thumbnail for full sized zen and the art of single parenting.)

It's traditional, when discussing a comic strip with a certain childlike innocence and pleasantness and great imagination, to compare it to Calvin and Hobbes. Personally, I don't get that at all. Calvin and Hobbes was a triumph on many levels, but part of what made it work so well is Calvin was a perfect child -- selfish, self-centered, with no concept of consequences until it was too late, and largely mindlessly destructive. There's nothing wrong with that. It was funny, and it was accurate (my favorite game to play with my Micronauts was the one where I painstakingly assembled the playsets and vehicles for two hours, then destroyed them all in an orgy of destruction, as the Acroyears and Baron Karza's assault devastated the peaceful home of our heroes, only to be repulsed with a hail of lasersonic fire that also had the effect of hammering the enemy photon sleds and hydrocopters and neon orbiters into shrapnel. Micronaut vehicles were good at shrapnel, because you could so easily disassemble them). A good friend of mine of the time described how he poured gunpowder from his dad's shotgun shells into his Micronauts battle cruiser and literally blew it up -- being lucky he didn't maim himself in the process. That's childhood, in a nutshell, and Calvin and Hobbes captured it perfectly.

Well, the thing about Ozy and Millie is it gets that. Millie is chaotic and destructive and self centered, more than willing to shave all the fur off of Ozy's body for the sake of a good time, then learn a lesson... and then do it again in six months when the lesson has faded. But Ozy and Millie also understands that curious nostalgia that adults feel when thinking about childhood -- that sense of innocence and wonder that people ascribe to Calvin and Hobbes, which is the other side of that chaotic coin.

(And yes, I fully accept that there was a sense of wonder in Calvin and Hobbes. I don't need those angry letters, thanks.)

My point is... with Ozy, Simpson has a character who embodies that sense of inner peace and beauty and wonder. (Senses that also cling to Timulty and perhaps find their perfection in him. On Ozy and Millie's Cast Page, Simpson mentions William Blake and his concept of Primary Innocence in connection with Tim, and that's very apparent.) In other words, he gets both sides of the equation -- he gets both Little Nemo and the Katzenjammer Kids.

I really liked the story of Millie's father, who turned out not only to be a pirate from the dimension found in Llewellyn's sofa, but is aging backwards so that he's around Millie's age now. This is chaotic and whimsical all at once. Well, now we're learning the story of Ozy's mother (there's something about single parents in all of this), who is herself an orderly woman conducting an orderly life. And in today's strip, we learn that Ozy as a baby was already meditating.

I'm enjoying this. And more to the point, I'm enjoying what it represents. And I'm looking forward to what happens next.

And isn't that exactly what Simpson wants? That sense of anticipation, in a story of a single mother ice cream tester and her baby child, who we know eventually gets adopted by a dragon?

Posted by Eric Burns-White at December 7, 2004 9:06 AM

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