Second Chances

I have something of a confession to make – when it first started, a bit over a year ago, I didn’t like Home on the Strange.

Or rather… I just didn’t get it. It didn’t click for me. I went there on day one, sent via Websnark, and was surprised to find that it just left me shrugging.

(Ironically, I went on to check out the words of the strip’s writer, the Ferret, and was impressed by them.)

But the strip itself… nothing. I kept up with it for a few weeks – after all, it would be downright foolish to judge it by a single strip. And it didn’t grab me, and I eventually just stopped reading.

A couple months later, I saw notice of it… somewhere… and decided to take another look, and quickly went through the archives. And was promptly blown out of my shoes.

I was trying to figure out what exactly had changed, and realized only one thing – the strip had had enough time to start actually developing. Character interaction, full-on plotlines, drama – all the good stuff.

Let us make one thing clear – Home on the Strange is a sterling example of an almost perfectly designed webcomic. Clean site design, die-hard update schedule, connects to all manner of audiences (albeit almost all of them geeky), and has a great mix of humor and plot.

The early humor? For me, it didn’t work. But once it had the plot rolling… bam! Snagged me without a chance of escape.

First glimpseIt isn’t because I only like story-heavy comics, because I enjoy plenty of strips that run on nothing more than humor. But with Home on the Strange, the humor alone wasn’t enough to pull me in – and one instance where I was sad that I had first come upon it while it was starting out, rather than later, once it had built up what it needed to draw me in.

Which goes to show that it doesn’t hurt to hedge your bets. Home on the Strange was very carefully constructed to appeal to a multitude of people. Not that there is anything wrong with that – it isn’t any less good for being planned out that way!

In any case, as time moved one, I became a devoted reader of the strip. The last few arcs have been especially compelling – they focus on the relationship of Izzy and Tanner, whose relationship has been one of the central developments through the strip’s run thus far. A relationship that, ever since it began, has teetered precariously on the edge of disaster.

When Izzy was confronted by an attempted seduction by Seth, local GM (as well as an incredibly wealthy womanizer), things didn’t look good. But instead, his attempt helped her take a closer look at her relationship with Tanner, and head home, intent on making their relationship a real thing.

When she got home, however, things didn’t look so good

…and the storyline was then followed up by a retelling of what was happening to Tanner while Izzy was away. This involved getting drunk, and inviting over his ex-girlfriend, which would have been a bad idea at the best of times.

Second ChancesBut in Monday’s strip, he seemed to have his own epiphany. And here is where I give credit to the artist Roni as well, because that strip floored me with its simple change of posture. I thought it was all going to work out, having somehow forgotten the horrible scene that had to somehow transpire by the end of the night.

The battle clearly isn’t over yet. I’m hoping – really hoping – that everything works out in the end, because these two arcs have really matured Izzy and Tanner an incredible amount… but the creators of the strip like to toy with us mere readers, and the ending could go any which way. Right now I find myself checking this strip first thing on every day it updates, and I’m confident that will stay the case until the arc is done.

And in the end, I’m just glad I had a second chance to discover it.

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