The couple in a the marital counseling office is a pretty common comic theme. I wouldn’t call it cliche, because there are so many places you can go with it, but it is a trope, because two people who ostensibly love each other but still fail to communicate at the most basic level is such a common occurrence in real life that it’s natural comedy fodder. I was thinking about comedy fodder because tonight The Man and I attended a live improv performance, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never done, even though I’ve seen a million standup comedians in a wide array of venues. To my eyes, it appears pretty universal that one half of a couple will state their ideas or feelings or desires and the other half of the couple will interpret that in a way wholly unlike what was intended.
I was also thinking about fairy tales, because I’m always thinking about fairy tales, and I wanted to do Little Red Riding Hood, even though every single one of my fairy tale comics bombed. They were funny to me. The one-panel comics are actually the hardest for me. My inclination is to pile words upon words. So I deliberately kept this one simple, and then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to shade things, which I never do, because it takes forever and always looks terrible. This time it only took sort of long and only looks kind of bad, so that’s an improvement. Usually I erase the entire layer. The nightgown and the pillow came out OK.
My favorite version of Little Red Riding Hood, is the very, very old one where the wolf kills grandma, and forced Red to eat her meat and drink her blood, which is arguably, more twisted than what’s going on here. But I also like the sexual aspect of the story about a girl who goes into the woods and comes out, if she makes it out, a woman.
Actually, I think the real theme of this comic was inspired ny something I wrote yesterday in a comments forum. Someone wrote a letter to Dear Abby a couple days back, about her mother wandering around her house at night, putting her ear to the married adult daughter’s door. The daughter had stopped sleeping with her husband because she was terrified of her mother hearing their conjugal relations taking place, but she hadn’t told her husband that was why she was shutting him down. A lot of commenters didn’t really understand that course of action, myself included. I wrote that if I thought my mother was deliberately listening at my door to catch my husband and me in action, I would make more noise. “Oh,” someone commented, “to show her how great it is?”
And I said, no, it was to be respectful, because if someone if straining to hear you, the polite thing to do is to speak louder.
Of course, in this comic, we don’t know that Grandma’s participation is consensual. Fortunately, it’s only a comic, and no fairy tale characters were traumatized in the making of it.