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Because I don't want today to just be rants about beloved icons of cartooning, here's some happy Sluggy stuff.

(From Sluggy Freelance. Click on the thumbnail for full sized tears in the darkness.)

People ask me why I say Sluggy pulled off the Cerebus Syndrome that so many have failed. That Which Redeems, though it dragged on a bit (as many major Sluggy plotlines do), highlights it well. On the one hand, we have death, and pain, and redemption. On the other, we have Mister Serving Tray and Goddesses in the bathroom. (And the Tarot. The hysterical Tarot.)

And then we have today's strip. We have Zo╬'s profound, unmitigated joy and relief at Torg coming home... we have Torg's emotional reaction. We have Zo╬ sensing it, and adapting to it, comforting and welcoming.

And, though it's not as clear from the art as it could be, as the title says, we have Tears in the Darkness.

A successful Cerebus Syndrome comic can go from Mister Serving Tray one day, to Tears in the Darkness the next, and then back again, and lose nothing. It is depth with purpose, Story with Funny. It maintains its own sense of premise and self even as it explores new dimensions. And it never feels cheapened, like it didn't have the goods, like it ran out of jokes so now they're getting gunned down in the streets.

Today was nice, and poignant. Tomorrow may be as well, or it might have me giggling. Either way, it still feels right.

That's what a Cerebus Syndrome feels like when it's pulled off. And that's why so many people try to pull it off.

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Comments

Even Cerebus mostly separated the funny from the story by using different characters (Lord Julius, the Roach). How Pete manages to pull off this kind of thing with a single character is something no-one expects to find in a daily web comic. It's amazing.

Speaking of Cerebus, how about a few words on that? I just finished 'Flight' and as I turned every page, I was hoping that I have not yet reached the point where Dave Sim reportedly goes postal. I'm enjoying the ride though (isn't Sim the best letterer ever?)

That's a problem with telling a story of great length through a medium that demands that you publish your story as you go: changes in personal life, beliefs and ethics may cause you to eventually choose a tangential route, dismissing your original plans for the story as irrelevant to your (new) point. Contradictions and confusion are likely to be the result.

I remember Dave Sim being asked in an interview about the way he would handle a subject he wanted to talk about that didn't fit into the Cerebus universe. He replied that he would use a bigger hammer.

I'm glad you snarked this one - I thought it was one of the best Sluggy strips I've seen in a good while. I also thought, honestly, that it was plenty clear that Torg was weeping at the end - and that the subtlety of how Pete indicated it was far more effective than explicitly showing tears. (I think that Torg's expression in the fifth panel is especiallyn effective in this.) Hell, I almost cried myself when I saw this strip.

I've grown increasingly disenfranchised with Sluggy of late, mainly because of Pete's (to my mind) inexplicable decision to fragment the relationship between Torg and Riff by routinely refusing to allow them to participate in storylines together; in my mind, this always the strongest part of the strip, and it's been disheartening to see this sort of thing fall by the wayside in favor of his increasingly convoluted storylines (the Bun-Bun, Eater of Holidays plot, in particular, almost drove me to a YHMbYLM.)

This, on the other hand... well, at least for the moment, it's warmed up a bit. I loved the Mr. Serving Tray dialogue, and I think I like Pete's treatment of this rather dicey moment. Notice how he can't bring himself to hug Zo╬ after losing her dimensional double. I thought this was nicely done.

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