dreadedcandiru2 (dreadedcandiru2) wrote,

Foxtrot: the scaled-down world of Bill Amend.

A strip doesn't have to sled out of sight entirely if its creator feels that his creative juices are starting to ebb; sometimes, the artist can conserve his creative energies by limiting his output of new material. Such is the case with Bill Amend's Foxtrot. As we know, he spent the late eighties, the nineties and about the first part of the last decade using the Fox family as his spokespeople for his take on life in the States. The characters were and are the sort of flawed-but-sympathetic family that most of us would gladly spend time with. Let's refresh our memories by capsulizing their bios:

  • First, we have mid-level manager and patriarch Roger; he's a well-meaning but clueless fellow who seems to be hopelessly baffled by any technology more advanced than an eight-track player and his wife's attempts to get him to exercise and eat healthy foods. His love of (and ineptitude at sports) tends to color how he relates to his children; simply put, he doesn't see that Peter isn't any better at football than he is and can't for the life of him realize that Jason hates sports like fire.
  • Next, we have stay-at-home-mother Andrea (or Andy for short); she seems to be oversold on the idea of frugality and sensibility. This results in her keeping her house at a mildly chilly sixty-five (because Jimmy Carter said to), serving her family vegan meals they find distasteful and giving them educational toys they find boring. What's more, she's a shining mark for the likes of professional annoyances like Jack Thompson who convince her that to be a responsible parent, she has to keep Jason from playing video games that aren't hopelessly bland.
  • Next comes eldest son Peter; he shares being interested in and being bad at sports, procrastination and eating like a horse and being a dimwit with Peter and being tech-savvy with Andy.
  • Daughter Paige is something of a study in contrasts; she doesn't seem to share Andy's work ethic, love of good grammar or intellect at all. She tends to rely on her smart-ass kid brother for help which, given his tendency to sabotage her for kicks, backfires on her.
  • Last but not least is over-achieving, Eileen-Jacobson-fearing boy genius Jason; while gifted with computers, math and other hard sciences, he reminds us that he's still a very young ten by believing in cooties and tormenting his sister despite getting caught and pounded on every single time.

The nice thing about these people is that their very believable behavior, the way they interacted as a family was more important a source of humor than any external plot that Amend could impose on them; that, oddly enough, got to be a problem. Simply put, he'd noticed that he was running out of novel situations. Rather than simply quit, he'd hit on a plan I think that Lynn Johnston would have done well to adopt. Instead of running his characters into the ground doing a weekly strip, he does a gag-a-Sunday strip that's very well received. His new paradigm is, I think, what a hybrid is supposed to look like.
Tags: amazonian catfish tinfoil hat, foxtrot

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