Well, it seems after several hiatuses and the like, Talismen has come to an early end. I’m not sure if it’s just a loss-of-artist, or something deeper. If it is just artistic issues, then hopefully B. Jacobs can find a new artist to work on it in time. In the meanwhile a Talismen novel, “The Knightmare Knife” by Steven Jones, is scheduled for a late May release, and more novels may follow. The format of the novel was not mentioned (if it is a graphic novel or prose), but more details will be forthcoming at the Talismen website.
Balancing the scales, Todd and Penguin has come out of hiatus. Hopefully a brief mention here won’t invoke the dark spectre of the Grim Reviewer Curse upon this fun little tale. Now go! Read! And give Penguin a cookie while you’re there, I think Todd has been hogging them all….
Mindmistress had a rather interesting bit recently, and the more I read the comic the more I realize it’s a character flaw that “Sophia” frequently suffers from. She might be really smart, but she has a tendency to do some truly stupid things. Still, sometimes doing what’s right isn’t what’s smart. Perhaps that’s the most important lesson of this rather curious comic… a lesson that “Sophia’s” other self (the mildly-retarded Lorelei) knows full well. While it takes a bit for the pages to load with dial-up, it’s still well worth reading, and definitely not your ordinary “superhero” comic.
Oh, and yours truly has appeared in his full feline glory in the Forum Wars section of Crossover Wars. Unfortunately, Forum Wars does not have a central site with navigation and the like for ease of reading, but you don’t need to read the forum posts to understand the comic itself. (No, I’m not a cat in real life. Cat-like, perhaps, but not a cat. But seeing that I’ve been using the grinning cat for an avatar image in forum posts…)
(From Candi. Click on image to see it full-sized.)
I wasn’t planning on tangenting Candi today. I’ve been working on another review for a couple weeks now (and allowed myself to be sidetracked once already), and to be honest Candi hasn’t been leaping out and throttling me like a number of comics have done of late. Instead, the comic lay in wait and as I started writing a secant about recent events, it whispered in my ear saying “don’t forget to talk about this!” and “how about that, you want to mention that, right?” (and right now I have a mental image of Candi pretending to be the old woman in the junkyard trap in Labyrinth urging Sarah to pick up more and more toys… with me as Sarah and the toys being webcomic topics).
However, I do have to admit that the comic has had some fascinating plot twists of late. I’m not talking about the character-donation of Menjou for Crossover Wars, but rather the fallout that happened after Candi was rescued from Jessica’s brother Andrew.
Like any spectacular explosion, the debri continues to fall. There’s Alex’s dumping of Candi. There’s Linda’s manipulations to keep Candi and Alex apart while trying to replace Candi in Alex’s affections. And there’s the Jon/Rebecca situation.
To be honest, there have been quite a few signs that Alex and Candi were headed toward a breakup. Early in the comic it was hinted that Alex was feeling constrained by his relationship with Candi. He’d been dating her exclusively for several years and in that time had grown to dislike several of her personality quirks. Likewise she had issues with him, but was patient with him (and indeed, that patience is a strong part of what kept them together for so long).
What surprised me was that Alex misses Candi. He wants to get back together with her. Seeing that he broke up with her, this basically means he sees it as a mistake. Considering how many people think of Alex as a jerk and an a##hole, this is a significant factor. And I’m not entirely sure that Alex is as big of an a##hole as people claim. He’s assertive, sure. He’s downright bossy at times. And at times he treats Candi rather poorly. But there are a few things in his favor.
First is that Alex misses Candi and wants to get back together with her. Sure, people consider him a jerk and an a##hole, but truth be told, Candi really enjoys being with him. I suspect there’s more to it than just “he smells good.” There’s a level of comfort there, but there’s also some compatability as well. There was something there initially, something that overcame her dislike of him so that she ended up falling in love with him. Alex has something about him that redeemed him in Candi’s eyes. And I don’t think she thinks so little of herself that she’s sticking in an abusive situation out of a sense of fear or hopelessness.
We’ve seen them fight, sure. One of the first fights we saw was concerning marriage. He was shocked that friends of theirs were going to get married. He felt that neither himself or Candi were mature enough to get married, which perhaps is a bit more realistic than most people are. Is it a bad thing really that Alex isn’t thinking marriage while they both have years of education ahead of them? Or is the issue the fact Alex was outspoken about it and then demanded Candi leave because he didn’t want to get into a shouting match with her over the topic?
You also have to think about why Candi is dating him. It’s not because “he smells nice” or something silly like that. It’s because of a number of factors. There are physical aspects to him that attract her (and trust me, physiology is a primary factor in dating; I’ve had a good friend who would never date me, despite the fact I’ve been there for her every single time she ever needed me and called, no matter what… because physically she’s not attracted to me). There are also mental aspects. He pushes her. He wants her to strive to be her best. He doesn’t just accept her for who she is, he wants her to better herself. Not for him. For her. And if he’s not exactly respectful to her in tone and words? Well, I never said I liked him. I just don’t see why he and Candi should break up, if they enjoy being together.
Of course, that’s the key question. Do they enjoy being together? I think Alex was feeling trapped perhaps, and that’s why he broke up with her. And the guilt of not being there for her was the catalyst that drove him to speak those words. But he’s realizing he needs her as much as she needs him. He’s not going out and finding some other girl to date. He’s pining after his girlfriend, and only the deception of Linda is keeping them from getting back together.
Next we have Linda, who within a day of meeting Alex had decided Candi would be better off not dating him. To be honest, this was after witnessing how he bossed Candi around and generally acted like he didn’t respect Candi. Looking back, I have to wonder how much of it was jealousy. Candi had a boyfriend, while Linda didn’t. What’s more, Candi had a boyfriend who didn’t deserve someone as “sweet” and “nice” as Candi. But I wonder if there was also a hidden attraction there.
We’d long seen signs that Alex was getting itchy feet with his relationship with Candi. I’m not sure how many (if any) people Alex had dated before Candi, but considering his no-nonsense attitude toward people, I doubt he dated many girls. He’s been in this steady relationship for years now… and while there are people who remain married for decades, when you’ve only lived 20 years, being in a steady relationship for even three of them is still a significant portion of your life. Linda may have cued in on his furtive looks over the fence, looking into the wilderness and wanting to leap over and explore a bit.
The problem being, of course, Alex doesn’t truly want to leave. He’ll look and he’ll grouse, but his relationship with Candi is as comforting for him as it is for her. Look at when he broke up with her: it wasn’t “get your ass out of here” it was “we’re family. I’ll be here for you.” And what’s more, look at his words. “I’m not what you need.” He has noticed how they fight all the time, and he states something he’d told Linda: he doesn’t want Candi to be dependant on him.
Linda meanwhile has been playing both sides against the other. The breakup is the wedge she’s been looking for. So long as neither Alex nor Candi seek out the other to talk, Linda has time to worm her way into Alex’s affections. Nor is Alex a complete idiot here. He already stated that Candi being furious at him wasn’t very Candi-like. If Linda hadn’t put him on the defensive, he might have seen through Linda’s deceptions.
The funny thing is, I suspect Linda doesn’t see it as backstabbing Candi, but doing it for Candi’s own good. She needs someone better than Alex (and if Linda can get in on the action at the same time, all the better). Candi deserves someone nice and pleasant and oh, perhaps someone who has for years been pining after her? Sort of like… Jon?
She already tried to get Jon to help in this little scheme. Fortunately, Jon wasn’t willing to sacrifice his friendship with Candi just for the chance to get lucky with an unrequited “love.” And this may be the surest sign of who Candi’s friends truly are. Not Linda, who is willing to let Candi suffer while offering her advice on false premises… but people like Jon who accept her for who she is, rather than what they want from her.
And that leads us to Jon and “Candi-Lite” as some people refer to her (though I like the header I came up with: Saccharine. It suits her: an artificial sweetener that’s been unfairly maligned). Rebecca’s been getting the short end of the stick, and it’s rather sad. These same people so want Jon and Candi to be together because “they’re perfect for each other” and because they want the “nice guy” to win the girl that they are ignoring a very important fact: Candi doesn’t think of Jon that way. Hell, she knows of Jon’s feelings toward her. And I suspect she knew it before she was dating Alex. But she’s not interested in him. The physicality that is so important in keeping Alex and Candi together is what kept Candi and Jon apart.
Candi is the unrequited love. But the thing about unrequited loves is that they don’t end in a Happily Ever After, with rare exceptions. Yet people aren’t willing to give Rebecca a chance. She’s not perfect, but no girl is. Candi has her own share of flaws, and I am pretty sure that if Jon were single and she got drunk out of her gourd and found herself in bed with Jon the next morning, pregnant with his child, and they got married because “it’s the right thing to do” that it would end in divorce in a few short years.
I think it’s the myth of the “nice guy” at work here. This myth claims that women claim they want a “nice guy” who treats them with respect and is polite and decent and all that and then they go out with men who treat them poorly (sort of like Alex, when you think of it). But the concept of the “nice guy” is a myth created by passive-aggressive males who would rather whine about their situation than do something about it. You don’t need to be outspoken to be a jerk; there are plenty of quiet jerks in the world who act nice but would betray you in a second when your back is turned (sort of like Linda there, when you think of it).
Jon has a girlfriend. Why throw away something and risk losing a friend in the process? If things didn’t work between Jon and Candi, then he’s lost his friendship with Candi and he’s lost his relationship with Rebecca. There’s a fairytale about this: a dog has a bone and looks into a pool of water. He sees in the water another dog with another bone, and wants that bone more than his own. So he opens his mouth to grab at the other bone… and loses his bone in the water.
Well, Jon’s the dog who’s got a bone… but he’s smart enough not to open his mouth and lose what he’s got for the illusion of something better.
And what of Rebecca? The last few strips did a good job of expanding her character and making her a bit more sympathetic. She’s not trying to break up his friendship with Candi. What she wants is to spend time with Jon without the shadow of Candi blotting out the sun of her happiness. She doesn’t want to be Candi-lite. She wants Jon to appreciate her for who and what she is, not as a pale reflection of something else.
She’s not exactly been politic concerning Jon and Candi, but I can understand her position here. It was bad enough when Candi was seeing someone else. Now that she’s single, she’s probably worried that Candi might make a move on Jon. She doesn’t know what Jon would do if Candi did suddenly tell him she wanted him. They’ve not been dating that long. They don’t know each other all that well.
Rebecca isn’t a pale reflection of Candi. If she was blonde or oriental or the like, would fans still view her as “Candi-lite”? So what if she’s a redhead? There are plenty of redheads out there, and they are diverse and different. There are temperamental redheads and quiet redheads and spiritual redheads and more. They run the same gambit of personalities as everyone else.
Jon doesn’t see Rebecca as a replacement for Candi. If anything, he’s struggled not to see her as that.
I think it’s starting to show. One of my friends recently said “I wanted to hate Rebecca. But she’s being so damn REASONABLE about all this.” And she is. She went to Jon to talk. Not to shout at him or issue ultimatums. She went to talk, and explained why she was upset. She respects Jon and his feelings enough to talk, rather than dictate terms.
Ironically enough, it’s something Candi would do. But she’d be the first one to tell Jon to be with Rebecca, I’m sure.
Robert A. Howard
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