Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Comic, Strip Wednesday: The Life and Very Strange Death of Apartment 3-G

One of my favorite blogs is The Comics Curmudgeon. This is a blog that looks not at comic books but comic strips. Yes, comic strips, those things in the back of newspapers. You know, probably the only reason you read the newspaper in the first place.

Most modern comic strips are what you call "gag strips". They're centered on whatever joke the writer/artist wants to tell that day. But there are other kinds of strips out there that keep plugging away, adventure strips like The Phantom and Mark Trail and soap opera strips such as Rex Morgan MD and Mary Worth. This week sees the end of one such soap opera series. Although truth be told, it probably died a few years back; newspapers are just getting around to wheeling out the corpse. 

Apartment 3-G is an American newspaper soap opera comic strip about a trio of career women who share the eponymous Apartment 3-G in Manhattan. Created by Nicholas P. Dallis with art by Alex Kotzky, the strip began May 8, 1961.  

Bound by the limitations of being in a newspaper comic strip with storylines that restored any status quo that got usended, Apartment 3-G still managed to provide engrossing stories of the 3 women who shared Apartment 3-G and had pretty good art to go with it. 

Click image to make a little bit bigger now. 

In 2006, artist Frank Bolle took over as artist who's fine line contrasted with Alex Kotzky's bolder layouts and inks. 

From the strip above, characters are distinctive with changes in facial expressions. The backgrounds are sketchy but serviceable and provide a sense of place for our characters to be. Bolle's no Alex Kotzky but he did OK. 

Until recently.  To be fair, Frank Bolle has been working in comics since comics were invented. I think he's 117 years old. At any rate, this has been the state of the strip for sometime now.  

Take a look at this Sunday strip I annotated. 

Click the image to embiggen. 

Lack of backgrounds or backgrounds that make no sense. Unrecognizable characters. People not actually doing what they say they're doing. It's a bizarre dreamscape of odd characters speaking oddly while moving randomly through a sketchy form of limbo.  

By the way, Frank Bolle is only the artist, not the writer.  Margaret Shulock is the current scripter for Apartment 3-G. I don't know, maybe these fever dream escapades make sense when she writes them down but put through the prism of Frank Bolle's static incomprehensible scribbles, any sense that can be had from these panels is lost forever.  

This has been a fascinating experience, seeing a comic strip that appears in newspapers across the nation being written and drawn by alleged professionals that makes absolutely little to no sense.  It's almost like what would happen if a comic strip was being put out by people strung out on meth.

I imagine someone at King Features decided to actually read this thing and reacted with a "Whoa! What the hell is going on here?"

Because as of November 21, 2015, Apartment 3-G will reach its end. 

There's no telling how this thing will end. To be honest, there's been no telling what the hell has been going on most of the time. But you will be missed, Tommie, Margo and LuAnn. Even if I wasn't always sure who was who or where they were or what they were doing. 

That's that for today's post. Another one pops up tomorrow about some damn thing or another. Until then, remember to be good to one another. And don't forget to turn the light out when you leave the apartment. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

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