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Meanwhile, in the dimension of wireless cafes with a latte by my side....

(From Sluggy Freelance Click on the thumbnail for full sized potence, baby!)

Before getting on to the snark, I want to point out the sheer decadence one gets to feel sitting in a Fresh City cafe/restaurant with a laptop, connected wirelessly to their network, sipping healthy smoothies and lattes (tall nonfat with a shot of sugar free vanilla, for those of you who like to go to coffee bars anywhere but in Seattle. Seattlites, that's a tall skinny no foam vanilla. I'm not sure how to say "sugar free" for the flavor shot, as I haven't lived in Seattle since 1997 and I never ordered sugar frees then). I sit in air conditioned splendor (necessary today, as New Hampshire has apparently been thrown into the Tropic of Cancer while I was sleeping). Thanks to the power of Wifi, I get to sit where staggeringly good looking women wearing very little (see the aforementioned "Tropic of Cancer" comment) wander in to get smoothies, buy needful things, and still sit down and bang out a snark. These are the kinds of conditions that led to the Fall of the Roman Empire, and all I can say is "the Visigoths better start with Massachusetts, because I still have most of a strawberry and yogurt smoothie to drink and I don't want to die unsatisfied."

I'm afraid one of the strips I don't currently read is Ian MacDonald's Bruno the Bandit. The times I've tried to jump in and do the backtrack through his logs, it hasn't grabbed my attention sufficiently. I can tell he's talented, and I know he has a dedicated fanbase, each and every one of which has better taste than I do, clearly. But here we are.

So, my experience with Ian MacDonald has been entirely devoted to his part of the "Pete's wife just had a baby so his fellow cartoonists are pitching in and doing guest strips/Sluggy Freelance Where Are You" sequence a while back, and the "Meanwhile... in the Dimension of Pain/Dimension of Grief" strips that have been running on Saturdays for a while. And in a way, the DoP/G strips deserve to be considered separately from Sluggy, though unlike most guest strips they are considered in continuity with Sluggy.

It's a pity, by the way, that Pete typically doesn't put guest strips in Continuity. The idea that Zoł┤ makes her money by wearing lingerie and a mask for a webcam gives me the giggles. Then again, that sequence was done by the Foglios, and they're some of the few who can do exploitive strips and make them seem acceptable to all.

I really like the idea of the Meanwhile... in the Dimension of Wherever strips. Pete had been doing Saturdays, but figured out that with the expanded Sunday strips and all, he needed to cut back. Instead of truly cutting back, though, he got a collaborator with sufficient cred to have his hands on Sluggy Freelance once a week and let him go to town. But in a lot of ways, I wasn't a huge fan of the execution. Oh, I liked the whole "angels take over the Dimension of Pain" bit, and the idea that Fallen Angels have really just tripped (and MacDonald set up that particular solution some weeks in advance absolutely brilliantly -- remember, if a Fallen Angel is on the Mantlepiece in the First Act, that Fallen Angel must be used in the Third. It's Chekov's Law of Webcomics). However, given that the Dimension of Pain has been a part of Pete's toolbox from the beginning, having it go in somewhat incompatible directions made things a bit strained. As was most clearly shown when a Cutified Demon went after Torg as a part of the yearly Halloween Party strips -- even though things were weird that Halloween anyway, it was still, to quote the late Robert Reed, "Batman in the Dressing Room." It was two different visions of humor trying to reconcile, and it didn't quite gel.

Then, when the Dimension of Pain began to pay off in the main Sluggy strip in a big way -- as is still ongoing -- MacDonald's weekend strips moved wholly into the Dimension of Grief. This let him draw a hot female hideous demon lead on a weekly basis (which obviously is part of the fun for MacDonald), let him develop a mythology (and humor style) that fits his brainspace perfectly and still retain a tie to Sluggy without really walking on Abrams's toes.

This is a good thing. And MacDonald does bring the Funny. And while I don't like it quite as much as Abrams's regular strips, that's a Hell of a standard to try to live up to. It's certainly not on the "Why Am I Reading This Webcomic, Again" list.

Maybe it's time to give Bruno another shot. Or time for another latte. Probably the latter. Also, I'd like to dedicate this entry to the beautiful girl in the brown shirt who just walked in. Which, I would add, almost never happens when I'm snarking from my living room. Ah, decadence.

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