Dear Brooke McEldowney, Creator of 9 Chickweed Lane and Pibgorn:
I have stood up for you. I have gone to the freaking wall for you. I have looked back upon your older comics with approval, for though many mock them for their unusually literate teenage characters and their tendency to rely on a lot (a lot) of words, I happen to like words. I also happen to have been an unusually literate teenager, and so I do know that such creatures exist. I appreciate the fact that your older strips deal with the sorts of characters not usually found in the funny pages. It is especially pleasant to see you focusing on three generations of a family from which all the men have departed; the dynamics between grandmother, mother, and daughter are nicely handled. None of the three protagonists is particularly stereotypical, and all are fun to watch.
Alas...I mean "were." They were fun to watch. A few years ago, the youngest protagonist, Edda, moved to the city to pursue a career as a ballerina. Since then, the strip has been heading steadily downhill. Edda has lost her gentleness and originality and become--must I say it?--an intolerable, backstabbing little bitch. She spends every strip whining. So do all the other characters. For the last year or so, Edda and her on-again, off-again childhood sweetheart Amos have been at odds for no real good reason except that Edda is a jerk and Amos a jellyfish. Now you have brought them together again.
I am sorry to say that the reunion of Amos and Edda has propelled your once-promising strip into Japes territory. Well...I'm not that sorry. How often do I get the chance to translate phrases such as, "Helplessly, uncontrollably, her fate imminent, manifest" into Middle English? You have provided me with some deliciously juicy words there. You see? There's still hope! You could still pull yourself out of this terrible, terrible tailspin and make your comic worth reading again! At the moment, it seems a little (dare I say) self-indulgent, with Edda and Amos smooching and having hand-sex* all the freaking time. In today's comic, you even thrust the once-independent Edda** into the stereotypical role that has been allotted women since the Dawn of Sexism. Replace Edda with any medieval maiden, and the comic will remain essentially the same.
You know what, Mr. McEldowney? Women exist for more purposes than showing off their bodies and being protected by men. I used to think you realised this, but if you did, you seem to have changed your mind. Welcome to 1381, sir. Come join the party, to which I have also invited the creators of The Family Circus, Hagar the Horrible, Crock, The Wizard of Id, Hi and Lois, and many, many more. I think you'll fit right in. Have some roast boar.
I did once think, Mr. McEldowney, that your comic was one of the things about the funny pages that was actually pretty okay. I really hate it when I'm wrong.
P.S.: And if you want to see something really bizarre, check out Pibgorn.
P.P.S.: In the spirit of obscurity and self-indulgence, I have used medieval Roman numerals in the title panel.
*Hand-sex is a peculiarly McEldowneyish phenomenon that involves the cartoonist drawing hands and arms in various states of entanglement in order to represent intercourse. There has been a lot of hand-sex in 9 Chickweed Lane lately.
**Note for the uninitiated: Superlative Girl is Edda's imaginary alter-ego. She is usually able to fly. Apparently, love has deprived her of this power. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.