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Eric: Then again, I'm not *entirely* sure Silas was ever real, either. Even if he did go to Ferret Dook Dook Hell.

Something Positive
(From Something Positive! Click on the thumbnail for full sized hello new friend!)

What I find most interesting about the current Something Positive plotline is what we don't know.

There's a lot of meat to this plotline. There really is. For one thing, Milholland has managed to actually make Kharisma a sympathetic character. I honestly wasn't sure it could happen, but it has. Maybe it was the introduction of Sarah, a person who reached out to help Kharisma when no one else would. Maybe it was the guilt and sadness Kharisma felt over Sarah's injuries. Maybe it was the knowledge that the Warden actually was trying to take Kharisma out as revenge for Avagadro Pompey's death.

I don't know about any of those things. Not really. It shows good storytelling, but that's not what I find most interesting.

What I find most interesting is that we still don't know if the blue thing is real or not.

See, the suspicion now is it's real. I mean, it's been established that Kharisma couldn't have left her cell the night before. And it was certainly strongly implied that the blue thing, who looked pissed off in the March 22nd strip, actually went to do the asswhupping.

So, that means it must be real, right?

Only... if so, why would there be evidence to suggest Kharisma's wig at the scene.

But if that is evidence to suggest Kharisma's wig, why doesn't her wig seem to be missing a few patches now?

I dunno. But we don't have all the facts yet.

Let's assume the blue thing is just Kharisma's fractured psyche expressing itself. Is it truly harder to believe that somehow Kharisma, in a psychotic fugue, could find a way to avoid the cameras and administer a truly savage and unexpected beatdown to her enemy than it would be to believe that instead a magical spirit of annoying congoers that only Kharisma can see did it? I mean, I know we have some magical realist touches in Something Positive (Choo Choo Bear's pliable nature, Twitchy-Hug's shifting fur color, Canadian Trapdoor Alligators and the like), but this goes beyond that and into full force magic -- this would be a spirit or demon or creature from beyond acting on Kharisma's behalf, and that's a step further than Milholland has ever taken us before.

There is also the possibility of coincidence. I mean, Sarah is apparently a good soul in the prison. (In what variety or capacity I couldn't say.) Is it hard to believe that some other red haired woman might have befriended her, been pissed off that Huddleston injured Sarah, and took her out entirely unrelatedly to Kharisma or the blue thing.

Or someone else took out Huddleston and left the red patches of hair to deflect suspicion away from themselves.

My point is, we don't know what's going on here. There are simple explanations and there are not so simple explanations.

At the bottom of the March 22nd strip referenced above, Milholland claimed he himself didn't know if the blue thing was real or not. I'm taking him at his word on that.

And that's cool.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 28, 2007 2:32 PM

Comments

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 2:37 PM

I want a set of Friendship Tooth Necklaces.

Comment from: Darth Paradox [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 2:48 PM

Well, Silas was run over by Avogadro's car. So if he wasn't strictly real, he was certainly more than a mere hallucination.

Comment from: Doug Wykstra [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 4:25 PM

Milholland's comments make me think of another author, the poet Richard Barnfield, who's poem "Teares of the Affectionate Sheperd" contains some of the most explicit homoerotic imagery you're likely to find in 16th century literature. Barnfield took a fair amount of criticism for "The Affectionate Sheperd," and in his next volume of poetry, wrote a foreword explaining that the poem was about platonic brotherly love, and not meant to be obscene. It's unclear why he did this, as anyone who bothered to read the first few stanzas would see through the explanation.

My English professor suggested that the reason Barnfield did this was not to quell the uproar surrounding his poem; if it was, Barnfield would have attached it to a new printing of "The Affectionate Sheperd." However, Barnfield attached it to a new collection of poems. None were as explicit as "The Affectionate Sheperd," but most of the poems contained some sort of homoeroticism- you just had to be looking for it. Which, according to the professor, was what Barnfield had in mind when attaching that foreword. By denying knowledge of something, he was able to draw more attention to it.

I have a feeling Milholland's liner note about how he didn't know whether the creature was real or not was to focus the audience on that possibility. Frankly, the idea that it was real had never come into my mind until I read that comment. The next day, we see a real possibility of it being real. But I don't think it ends there. I think the reality of the little blue thing is Milholland's left index finger moving back and forth in front of our eyes while he cocks back his right hand to hit us in the teeth. With a plot turn. Or something. Okay, the Metaphormobile's out of juice; I'll walk from here.

And really, I think the surest sign Kharisma's mind is going is her feeling bad over what happened to Sarah. Since when has she ever cared about the consequences of her actions?

Comment from: Alma Mater [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 5:15 PM

The Kharisma plotline is really starting to get interesting; I'll be curious to see how it pans out.

One thing that bears keeping in mind, though, is that the Warden isn't exactly a reliable narrator, so we might know even less about the attack than we think we do.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 5:18 PM

Yes, it's cool. I saw that comment from Randy and I decided it doesn't matter whether the blue thing's real or not if it doesn't matter to the story.

Comment from: Sili [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 5:46 PM

What do you mean, there's no such thing as a Canadian trapdoor alligator?!

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 6:02 PM

I dunno... said comment from Barnfield could have been to placate the people who complained about it without reading it - I am assuming, of course, that then as now people had a habit of doing so.

I don't know if the Blue Thing is real... and I don't particularly care. I get a kick out of it every time it shows up. And I don't think it would really alter my enjoyment of it regardless of which answer is correct. So I'm just going to sit back and enjoy it.

One thing, regardless of whether it was real - Huddleston was interested in a wig of her own. I wouldn't put it past her to try to make one of her own. One scalp at a time.

Comment from: Prodigal [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 8:17 PM

Ya know, the warden looks a bit like Silas now that I think of it...

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 8:20 PM

I don't know, this plot seems to be diving off the deep end for me.

Comment from: Alexandra Erin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 28, 2007 11:36 PM

I've loved the blue thing since its first disconcerting appearance (to a hallucination, no less)... and was floored bit its inclusion in the main story... and driven through the floor when that turned out to not be a one panel throwaway joke.

As a writer, I'm always a fan of there being at least one element of mystery in the story unknown even to the person who's tacitly driving the plot. :P It sometimes annoys my co-plotter, who prefers to have eveything worked out in her head.

There are some fairly major elements of our universe where I've pretty much had to go "Sure, why not?" in response to her "Is it real?" type questions.

Comment from: Godspiel [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 29, 2007 1:06 AM

Is it truly harder to believe that somehow Kharisma, in a psychotic fugue, could find a way to avoid the cameras and administer a truly savage and unexpected beatdown to her enemy than it would be to believe that instead a magical spirit of annoying congoers that only Kharisma can see did it?

Yes. Yes it is.

Maybe the two of them have a Nikki/Jessica thing going on from Heroes.

Comment from: Doug Wykstra [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 29, 2007 3:17 AM

Hmmm... a Jekyll/Hyde thing going with Kharisma and the Little Blue Thing? I wouldn't be surprised, given it's first appearance in "Life With Rippy." It would make it even funnier if the LBT was a serial killer.

Man is walking down a deserted corridor, hears footsteps behind him, turns around quickly. Nothing there. He begins to walk away, hears the footsteps again, turns around fast. He realizes that the footsteps haven't stopped... but they're somehow coming from the direction he was walking. As he jerks around, he sees something blue, moving too fast to register, streaking toward his neck.

"HELLO NEW FRIEND!"

The flashlight falls to the ground and breaks. There is a brief scuffle in the dark, then a sound like a wet sponge hitting the floor.

"KISSES NOW!"

Comment from: Doug Wykstra [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 29, 2007 3:23 AM

Oh, and 32, it's a minor quibble over an even more minor point, but if Barnfield's explanation was meant for critics who didn't read his books, it doesn't seem to me it would be useful to then publish the explanation in one of his books. Especially one that didn't contain the poem in question. That's kind of like putting a pit bull in your back yard, and putting up the "Beware of Dog" signs in your guest bathroom.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 29, 2007 8:14 AM

Why wouldn't it be useful in a different book? They got upset over something that was in one of his books - it's just as likely that they'd hear of the explanation if it was in one of his books as well. Though in that case, it would be more meant for his fans so that they could defend him in debates ("How can you say that? He clearly writes in this book that...").

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 29, 2007 9:32 AM

Graves replied to criticism of I, Claudius in the introduction to Claudius the God ...

Comment from: theliel [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 29, 2007 1:05 PM

I'd just like to note that Randy threatened to include the Blue THing (apprently inspired by nightmares of Con Season) in the comic just to be a dick. And of course not only will he do it just to be a dick (and piss off everyone who complained about it the first time) but he'll do it in such a way that you are HAPPY he fucked with your brain.

Because he's just a fucking genious.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 29, 2007 6:13 PM

Now, now... I was one of the people who was hoping he'd put the Blue Thing into the strip just to mess with people. Its mere inclusion was enough to make me happy.

Of course, he's gone above and beyond that. I'm just waiting for the fucked-up shirt to come of it.

Comment from: Aerin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 30, 2007 1:20 AM

I read it that the Warden had planted the patches of red hair, just as he had set up the dozens of cameras to be certain of having something to use against Kharisma. I don't think it's entirely out of the question that the Warden might have (perhaps obliquely) arranged for Huddleston to be taken out in order to fram Kharisma; certainly his devotion to Avagadro marks him as a loony.

Comment from: Alma Mater [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 30, 2007 2:44 AM

I kind of alluded to it previously, but my pet theory is that the Warden is gaslighting Kharisma and psychologically manipulating her and the other inmates in order to get revenge.

Assuming that he controls the information that gets to Kharisma and the other inmates, nobody could verify his statements, and any rumors that were told to an inmate would take on the air of truth. Moreover, there wouldn't need to be red hair at the scene, or even an attack, for Kharisma (and the others) to believe she is somehow responsible for her tormentor's absence; Huddleston could have been transferred for an innocuous reason/pretext, and the Warden would have the freedom to come up with a faulty explanation.

But I probably like this theory because I kind of prefer the Blue Thing as a hallucination. In any case, it'll be fun to follow the strip as it goes back and forth on the issue.

Comment from: Alexandra Erin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 30, 2007 12:31 PM

Alma, I won't say it's impossible, but that it stretches the credulity about as much as the Blue Thing itself does. The warden seemed all set to let Huddleston simply kill Kharisma... if pretending to transfer her out is some elaborate psychological torture, it's apparently too elaborate to have much effect on Kharisma.

To me, his rambling in the thumbnail'd strip is him venting his frustration and disappointment that Huddleston's in no position to beat Kharisma to death -and- he can't even pin it on her, despite obvious signs. At a meta-level, it's the vehicle for delivering to us the readers the information that Kharisma didn't do it herself.

If he knew about the Blue Thing, it could be assumed that he's playing off her doubts... hmm. You know what? If he's got cameras on her, he could have seen her talking to "herself" and doubting her sanity. He wouldn't know what the Blue Thing was "saying in response," but he could fill in the gaps.

Viewed in that light, the gaslighting theory's better than I first thought.

Still, it doesn't ring true to me... it still feels like to much of a stretch. I think ultimately we will be provided with a "mundane" explanation for what's been going on, followed by a winking-at-the-reader type coda.

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