04 December 2009

Friday Comic: "A Girl and Her Fed" (Minor Spoilers)

A Girl and Her Fed, by K. B. Spangler, is on the surface a story about a conspiracy theory involving spies with computer chips implanted in their heads, the ghosts of long dead politicians, a talking supersmart koala, and the girl, a multi-millionaire judo master newspaper intern with a serious case of ADD. I avoided readed it at all for a long time because I assumed it would be too weird. But, like Josh Whedon's TV and movie efforts (Buffy, Angel, Firefly), the off the wall premise in not what makes "A Girl and Her Fed" one of the most popular and deservedly notable webcomics.

Despite the premise, this character driven melodrama is basically about a remarkably ordinary, budding, non-platonic relationship between a pretty decent boy and a selflessly loving girl, both of whom are in their twenties and lonely after many years without having significant others. He was engaged to be married until his work destroyed his imminent marriage five years earlier. She's had seven years of one night stands and superficial relationships in which she's gotten rich but drifted away from all of her friends and family. They've both spend years floundering without a sense of direction in life. The real core of the story shows how they resolve the mistakes they make along the way in how they treat each other, despite their generally good intentions.

The non-platonic part of the relationship is an important part of what makes it distinctive. This isn't a chaste courtly romance about love at first sight between virgins. They spend many weeks getting to know each other before they even like each other. It is more explicit than young adult and the more chaste part of the romance genre, but it isn't porn either. In webcomic land, they call the explicit scenes "fan service" which is on a par with lingere catalogs. What really distinguishes "A Girl and Her Fed" is the balance between the platonic and non-platonic elements of the relationship.

In real life, most of us eventually end up in long term non-platonic relationships that are also not all about sex. We tend to spend long parts of our adult lives in serious, monogamous sexual relationships embedded in a blend of love and friendship. Real relationships involve mistakes in how we treat each other that have to be reconciled, take a certain amount of good will to work because we all have our own idiosyncracies, and also involve lots of the "business" of living. Most us have have rather less odd "business" than this couple does, but would you make a comic about your life?

This is a comic about the kind of couple that is destined to become family. This is the kind of significant other you bring home for Thanksgiving. The girl's personal ghost (Benjamin Franklin) and the talking koala are more like her father and his brother respectively, than they are like business associates. And, this is a couple you can easily imagine growing old together.

For all the melodrama going on in the background, and sexy sizzle going on in the midground, this story is really a remarkably placid and joyful tale that provides four new squares of new material three times a week. It is a little anchor of cheer (how many stories put lines of "let them rest and be happy together" in the middle instead of the end) in an otherwise sometimes pretty scary world that offers reassurance that the kind of troubles that adults see in their personal lives can ultimately be worked out.

Go read it.

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