Picks of the Day

Every so often I like to point out the strips that have most impressed me that day. Today brings forward two contenders – both standing out for being a break from the normal mood the strips in question tend to revolve around.

First up is Funny Farm. Now, this is one of the comics I have been reading the longest. It has stayed on my list all that time, but has never really stood out. It has been a consistent strip, and one I’m confortable with – I know the characters, I’m familiar with the villains. And every day I checked the strip, and chuckled at the jokes or noted the developments – but very rarely did it stop me in my tracks and make me pay attention.

Lately, however, has been a different story altogether. I notice – just now – that the strip is ending in 2008, which helps explain some of it – characters and the relationship between characters are changing in distinct and permanent ways. People are quitting jobs they have held since the start of the strip. They are settling into new directions that they have, in many ways, been inexorably headings towards since the very beginning. And unresolved romances are finally being… resolved.

I should note that it is these things that have gotten my notices – not villanous plots or diabolical schemes. The action has always served as a good backdrop for Funny Farm, but it has truly been the characters – and their interactions and relationships – that has been its greatest strength.

Today featured a kiss between Boe and Mileena, two characters whose romantic tension has been a plot point since their first introduction. It isn’t a relationship I was ever really concerned about, nor are they among the characters I have most followed in the strip – but today’s strip still caught my notice.

It is a cute moment, perfectly executed, with just the right mix of humor and happiness. And it certainly leaves me with high hopes for Funny Farm’s final year.

The other big winner for the day is Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic – which, as a matter of fact, is a strip I’ve pointed out in a similar fashion on a past occasion, not all that many weeks back. That time, however, I was impressed by a scene of perfect comedy, that capitalized on the format to produce one of the funniest moments I had seen in ages, as a character finds herself with a genie, makes some free wishes, and watches as things almost instaneously go from bad to mega-catastrophic. All within the space of four simple panels.

Today’s strip, on the other hand, is a different sort of beast entirely. It is not a moment of comedy, though the last handful of pages have been filled with the usual slapstick of the strip. It is not a quick, compact moment, but instead a double-sized post filled with a character’s speech.

It is, instead, merely a perfect demonstration of the strip doing what is does best – showing the profound humanity of the characters, monsters though they may be.

This has, of course, been a key element of the comic from the beginning – the very first strip gives personality to a goblin and a beholder, two beings normally seen in the genre as simply obstacles for heroes to overcome. It has been a prominent aspect throughout the strip, and likely one of the biggest elements that has made it stand out so thoroughly from the rest of the crowd.

Today, Turg, a minotaur, waxes eloquent on the driving force of mankind. (And minotaurkind. And orckind. And goblinkind.)

We’ve only really gotten to know Turg in this last arc. YAFGC is adept at featuring a variety of characters, and moving the focus from one to another without disruption – and maybe that is why it is hard to notice how central Turg has been to this storyline. He has been the leader of the current expedition (a quest to go find some treasure in some temple – the usual deal.) And along the way, he’s steadily been established as feeling alone. His companions have friends, lovers and family… he does not, not as they do.

Today’s strip is a culmination of the path he has been walking – and a startling, and powerful, demonstration of the comic’s ability to bring these characters to life. And a reminder of why, despite having been around for less than a year and a half, this strip has the potential be one of the best damn comics around.

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