One of the things Something Positive is well known for is its dark humor – and its cynicism in general.
Year One ended with Davan facing the death of his best friend from his youth.
Year Two ended with Aubrey dealing with a bleak job situation and a loss of independance.
Year Three ended with Davan’s home and possessions burning to a crisp.
Especially in the early years of the comic, there was a lot of reason to assume that the comic was, at its heart, pessimistic. The main characters get to deal with a ton of shit the world throws at them. Jobs are lost, relationships fall apart, friends and family move away… or pass on.
But the longer the comic goes on, the more and more optimism I see in it.
Oh, it doesn’t have things end in happy perfect fairy tales. Life doesn’t magically get better.
We’ll get back to that idea in a bit. For now, let’s take a look at the characters. Recently Randy provided a bit of fan-service by setting aflame Kharisma Valetti, one of the most despised personas in the strip.
Now, the obvious question one has to wonder is what this will mean for Kharisma. I mean sure – the fans hate Kharisma, and Randy thought it might be a nice tough to burn her face off. But… where does it go from here? She may well recover from the incident – but how intact will he beauty be? Given that her beauty – and the contempt she bears the world because of it – is her largest defining characteristic, what will this mean for her?
She doesn’t seem to have instantly woken up into being a good person by any means. Self-absorption remains pretty integral to her. And yet… what does Randy have in store for her? It wouldn’t be the first time a character has undergone an integral change by any means…
Something Positive is a story about people. There aren’t some set good guys and bad guys. There are just… people, getting through life. Sure, we have the protaganists – Davan, Aubrey, Peejee and their friends. But the troubles they face are anything from the world around them to each other.
The characters themselves aren’t perfect people – by and large they are an angry, violent and belligerent lot. They are more than willing to beat up, abuse or mock anyone who isn’t in their circle of friends and who deserves their antagonism – or simply happens to be in their way.
But we love them. Because they come off as real people, and they aren’t evil – they care about each other, deeply. They are a circle of true friends who simply happen to have a fair amount of megalomania, self-loathing and violent tendencies. And hey, its a comic strip – we can accept the sometimes overblown heights they reach.
One of the earliest true antagonists in the strip was Mike. Good old Mike. He represented everything bad about gaming nerds. He couldn’t show up in the strip without actively being an asshole to the characters we cared about. He ruins games. He ruins cons. He actively drives away the only people in his life that remotely care about him.
He is universally detested by the fan-base. He shows no redeeming qualities whatsoever… at first.
Time moves on. He comes to realize how much his own nature is responsible for the sad state of his life. And he does his best to try and get better. It helps that there are those who, even after all he has done, continue to show pity for him. But in the end – it is Mike, himself, who finds the desire to improve.
It isn’t the first time a character has shown maturity. All the cast and crew have gone through moments where they have grown up… or moved on. Life continuing on is one of the underlying themes throughout the entire strip. Even Monette – who starts out airheaded, adrift, an objection of amusement and pity – finds herself. She finds a job, a family, a girlfriend – and more often than not, shows herself as mature and responsible enough to lead her own life.
People grow up. People mature.
Now, admittedly, there are those that don’t show any emotional depth in the strip – generally one-shot caricatures such as gamer nerds, plushie abusers, and the like. And there are those in the strip who might occasionally try and improve, but keep failing. Kyle, PeeJee’s faithless boyfriend. Eva, Davan’s faithless girlfriend.
Eva is the biggest example of this – she dated Davan. There were good and bad times during that period. And eventually, she cheated on him and went back to the boyfriend that beat her.
She quit him again. Found a new boyfriend, one that treated her right. And dumped him at the altar to, again, go back to a disastrous relationship. And then pines after Davan again. And then acts like an asshole to him again. And so forth.
She isn’t shown as actively evil – just misguided. Just unable to really understand what is good in the world. And for all that you have to hate her… you have to pity her, too.
So now we have Kharisma. From her first appearance, she came off… poorly. She’s arrogant, not very intelligent, and self-obsessed.
But… there have been moments when she hasn’t come off quite so terrible. For all her outlook on pretty people first, she seems to genuinely care about Davan.
So here we are. What’s it going to be? She’s faced with a crisis. Will she end up as a Mike or as an Eva? It’s a story I am definitely eager to see.
Because for all the little bits of bleakness and biting humor in Something Positive, the title is very, very true. It is a story about life. About real people. It is not a perfect world. It isn’t filled with perfect people. But… it isn’t filled with perfectly evil people, either.
Even in the worst of those we meet, those who started out as vilified as they could be… there’s a little bit of something positive.