Friday, August 22, 2008

Here at TWIW, the big news this week is small comics. On Wednesday, I posted a feature spotlighting some lesser-known comics that you may enjoy, so if you'd like to see some hidden talents, they're only a click away.

Today, though, I largely want to talk about Multiplex.

Multiplex focuses on the staff of its titular theater, so one might reasonably offer the critique that too much of its cast comprises the solipsistic-young-adult category. However, recent events at the Multiplex have seen a need for increased security, so the theater has hired a new security guard. His name is James Harris; he's well into his sixties, if not older. He's a retired police officer, and when he was younger, he worked at a theater too.

I find Mr. Harris to be a welcome presence at the theater for two reasons. First, he has wisdom, a trait rather lacking in many of the Multiplex employees. Plenty of them are sharp, but age brings perspective, and I really think that Mr. Harris will provide a grounding presence amidst all the workplace drama. As Jason is showing him around the theater complex, the two of them run across Lizzie Stoner and Whitey lighting up in the back lot. Harris handles the situation very prudently--he's understanding but firm, and he lets them know that while there will be second chances, there won't be a third. I also get the sense that he genuinely cares about the kids.

Secondly, Mr. Harris broadens the strip thematically. Turns out he didn't work at just any theater, either--he worked at the Regal Theater back in the 1950s. Before it was torn down in 1973, the Regal was a major cultural fixture of Chicago's Bronzeville, and in a flashback, cartoonist Gordon McAlpin showcases its ornate architecture through some sepia-toned, hand-drawn artwork. These history-of-theater elements do a lot for the background and substance of Multiplex, and it's all brought in very naturally through the "new" hire. This stuff is a part of who James Harris is and where he's been.

When it comes down to it, Multiplex is a comic about how movies are a part of our lives. A lot of that is strictly on the humor level, sure, and movies are a bigger part of some of our lives than others (coughJasoncough), but there's this other level to it. As humans, we crave stories. And when we go to catch a story on the big screen, we want a good story, one that innovates in the medium, one that doesn't just entertain but says something substantial and resonant to us. And in its own way, with a cast of characters that you really get to know as you keep tuning in, Multiplex embodies those same values that it's looking for in a good movie.

Wait. How did this soapbox get here, and what am I doing standing on it?

Anyway, it's just about time for me to go do productive stuff, but before I do, let's have a...

Quick Rundown of Stuff I Liked This Week

Good times, good times. See ya next week.


scartoonist said...

I'm sorry I didn't have you on my webcomics blog list or on my blog. Fact is, you're a new discovery for me, and a good one. I'll be adding you to Floating Lightbulb ( ) which is my blog and to a little site I made to help people find webcomics blogs that are alive and kicking.

If you have any objections, let me know, otherwise consider it done.


Jackson said...

Hey there, Bengo--thanks for the add! Glad you like the blog. I checked out your own blog, and it's pretty informative and insightful--I'll be sure to visit again!