Friday, May 11, 2007

Caught In A Web

After being stuck in a bit of a holding pattern, I've decided to dive back into the wonderful world of webcomics. I'd like to start this (tentative) series off with some strips I'd found before and am still following:

R.K. Milholland's Something Positive is a perfect example of how imperceptible change can be until you step back and take in the big picture. Looking at the series as a whole, it seems that "Something Positive" has drastically changed its tone over the last year or so, but if you've been reading it regularly, you probably haven't noticed - it's been a very slow and gradual shift.

What originally drew me to "Something Positive" was Milholland's fantastic use of black humor, but that's been tapering off lately; these days, storylines tend to alternate between drama and comedy rather than conflate the two. The easiest point of comparison is the recent "Last Hours" storyline, a morbid depiction of Scotty Harris' suicide, and "This Is How We Say Goodbye", the original iteration of that storyline.

See the difference? S*P used to have a punchline for any event, no matter how inappropriate. But I don't think there's any funny to be found in Scotty's demise or Kharisma's nadir.

Which isn't to say that the strip's worse off, really. It's just adopted a different tone, and the narrative structure's changed now that the main characters have split up; in earlier years, most storylines linked back to at least one member of the core group (ie: each stage of Mike's development intersects with either Davan or Peejee), and these days the ongoing storylines lose a bit of cohesion because we're constantly moving back and forth between Boston and Bedford.

But the humor's still there in some form, and every now and then Milholland proves that he's as twisted as ever, so at the end of the day, it's all good.