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Eric: It scares me that I took the time to check the spelling of the word "Hunkinite" before posting this.

Casey and Andy

(From Casey and Andy! Click on the thumbnail for full sized three week gap!)

Some time ago, in the course of snarking Casey and Andy, I mentioned that Jenn Brozek had become the strip's protagonist. My thesis was simple enough: Casey, Andy, Mary, Satan, Quantum Cop and all the rest were funny characters that funny things happened to, but Jenn was the strip's Mary Richards -- she was the (relatively) normal character who had insanity surround her. As a result, her reactions echoed the reactions of the reader. She might be Queen of the Hunkinites, but her reactions are those of a normal person. More or less.

And, as a result, the major plot arcs seem to center on her. Jenn gets kidnapped transdimensionally or temporally. Things happen. Other things result. Her air of normalcy lends itself to weird situations.

However, part of character development is growth. If Jenn remained aggressively normal, she'd become a one-note joke character, existing only to not be quite as weird as everyone else. Sooner or later, she has to take weirdness in stride.

Today's strip makes it official. Jenn getting kidnapped and going off on a several week jaunt which leads to her coming back in significantly different clothing doesn't make her bat an eye. She's ready to pick up her conversation.

Not to mention that even before she was kidnapped, she was casually burying a satchel in the yard.

Jenn may still be the protagonist of the strip, but she's not Mary Richards any more. She's gone full on Phyllis on us.

(Does anyone even remember Phyllis? I always liked her character.)

It might hearten Andy Weir that I'm using his strip as an excuse to indulge in Mad Science, as well. This is the first time I've used ecto's built in file uploading and thumbnailing abilities. We'll see how well it works. If it does? Then those fools at the Institute shall PAY! A-HAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 2, 2005 9:47 AM


Comment from: Tangent posted at September 2, 2005 10:32 AM

Shaenon! Your mom drove Eric insane again!

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at September 2, 2005 11:29 AM

Despite the artistry of Cloris Leachman I don't have any particular fondness for Phyllis Lindstrom. Phyllis, her spinoff, gave Henry Jones steady work for a year and that's something. There was also the episode with the scene between Phyllis and Leo (Richard Schaal), her show's Ted Baxter, that starts and ends with Phyllis stating, "My daughter wants to marry a boy whose parents are midgets," and Leo responding, "Has she found one yet?" God, that was a great time to be a couch potato. M*A*S*H, MTM, Barney Miller... I've got something in my eye.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at September 2, 2005 11:45 AM

Dangit! Looks like I'll be up late reading this comic tonight. I clicked the thumbnail, read the comic and was incapacitated by laughter for about three minutes. I was looking forward to sleep tonight, too.

Thanks a lot, Eric.

Comment from: HydrogenGuy posted at September 2, 2005 11:52 AM

Man, Casey and Andy looks like it is now what Sluggy used to be before it went all Cerebus on us.

Not criticisin', just sayin'.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 2, 2005 12:16 PM

First off, I'm just going to complain because Websense apparently thinks that you play games on Casey & Andy and not read comics, thus I can't actually read the strip this second. Yet I can read a few video game blogs without a problem, and even shop for import video games. Stupid day job computers.

With that out of the way, it makes perfect sense to center around the normal character. Think of it like a humorous version of the Hero's Journey. The journey is into oddity and not danger (it might involve danger, but doesn't expressely need to do so), and the risk is to one's mental health moreso than physical health. But beyond that, the parallels are striking. And at the end of the Hero's Journey, the protagonist is irrevocably changed.

Jenn is showing this now. She can now handle and even anticipate the weirdness, and she doesn't even notice it when she starts exhibiting it herself. Yet she's still normal enough that she can keep undergoing the journey without succumbing totally to the weirdness herself.

It's like Jospeh Campbell in a jester's cap.

Comment from: DIV/O posted at September 2, 2005 3:36 PM

Eric's earlier snark on possibly my favorite C&A strip barely touches on the foreshadowing for Jenn's character arc. Jenn declaration "I've had it with you two freaks" and attempt to have a normal conversation with someone normal at a "Normal People" party only brings her back to weirdnss, epitomized by bat tag.

My hypothesis is that Jenn is dealing with weirdness the way other people deal with grief. The five canonical stages are, of course:
Anger--too numerous to mention;
Bargaining ,a.k.a. restraining order;
Depression (the last panel of this strip);and
Acceptance in today's strip.

I'm curious to see where this will lead. I'd argue that Zoe's acceptance of weirdness in "Sluggy Freelance" in the "Army of Darkness" parody kicked off the strip's Cerebus Syndrome.

Comment from: David Morgan-Mar posted at September 2, 2005 8:03 PM

Mmm... foreshadowy. ;-)

I think it deserves it, but I'm surprised at the huge props you give Casey and Andy here and in your next post. I had no idea you thought it was significantly influential to the webcomics community at large, or that many comics writers follow it. I'm very pleased to see it though.

Comment from: lucastds posted at September 3, 2005 6:51 PM

RE: Webcartoonist Assistance Fund

Good idea at heart. But there are people who would take advantage of such things.

If individual comics need contributions, it's best to let them deal with it. Then we can weight the merit (or lack thereof) for each case.

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