Friday, May 20, 2005

Go read Count Your Sheep

Holy crap, my blogging output has been pathetic. Two posts in one month? Sad - so very, very sad.

For a while now, I've been trying to think of something important, something meaningful, Something Deep to blog about.

Then I realized that was getting me nowhere, so now I'm here to pimp a webcomic. To whit: Adrian Ramos' Count Your Sheep.

Why read it?

The requisite comparison to a popular property: it's kinda like Calvin and Hobbes, if Calvin was a girl instead of a boy and Hobbes was an imaginary sheep and Calvin's mom was a young widow struggling to raise her only child on her own. Oh, and it's in various shades of blue.

Read it because it's cute without being cloying, endearing without being insufferable, touching without being maudlin. [Well, mostly. Ramos has his off days, same as anyone. But mostly? He's darn good.] It derives humor from the suffering of its characters - all the indignities of growing up plus the struggles of being a single parent - but it's bittersweet humor at times. Ramos makes us feel sympathy for his characters' hardships, even while we're chuckling at them. It's a difficult balancing act - to combine humor with pathos - but he does it quite well.

Read it because how many comic strips are about a single parent struggling - economically, emotionally, and in all other ways - to raise a bright child after the death of her spouse? How many comic strips mine both humor and pathos from the difficulties of single parenthood (helpful imaginary talking sheep notwithstanding)? The Funny and the Sympathy come as much from Katie's flights of fancy as they do from Laurie's latest emotional outburst or crying fit.

Eric Burns of Websnark fame has already commented on CYS before - I'm mostly just pitching in with my tiny squeaky voice in support as well.

For me personally, part of why I like CYS is because it reminds me of a former co-worker of mine who was a young single mother. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that things were a lot tougher on her than they should've been - she didn't get the kind of support from others she should have, not even her own parents - and she could've let herself become bitter and angry about it. She didn't and I admired that about her. She worked hard to take care of her daughter and herself and she did it largely on her own.

Both she and her young daughter were two of the sweetest people I knew. She baked me a cake on my birthday, despite everything else she had to do, because...well, she was the sort of person who did that sort of thing for her co-workers. And I never did get to return the favor; we had already parted ways by the time her birthday rolled around.

I haven't seen her in years, but I wonder from time to time how they're doing and hope things got easier for her. So I read about Laurie and Katie and the difficulties in their lives and I think of my ex-co-worker again and the chocolate cake she fixed me and all the difficulties she doubtless tackled on her own as a working single mom because...well, she had to.

Sweet people deserve better.