Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sally Forth and the Art of Foreshadowing

Francesco Marciuliano and Jim Keefe  have done remarkable things with Sally Forth, including playing with the conventions of the daily comic strip. The structure for a daily gag strip is simple: use 1-2 panels to set up the joke, deliver the punchline in the third. Sally Forth, like many strips, also uses story arcs to provide a framework for those gags. In August/September, 2015, though, Sally Forth had a remarkable sequence. (click on image to enlarge)

It's a bitterwseet sequence, and seems to foreshadow the breakup of Hillary and Jon. Or is it? When we start reading, we think we're reading third-person omniscient narration -- but it's Nona talking. When we flash forward to next summer, it's not clear if we're seeing reality, or just Hillary's imagination. 

Sometimes adventure strips, such as Judge Parker or the Phantom, will have some foreshadowing. A single panel will introduce something that won't be explained for a few weeks. Usually, though, it's laying the foundation for the next story arc, so there's a smooth transition.

In this case, we had to wait three months -- and several other story arcs -- to see if what happened next. 

Is this really the end, though? We'll have to wait until summer, 2016 in order to find out. But for now, it appears as if Nona knew what she was talking about. And note that in the strip above, Hillary also offers an observation on the three-panel gag.

To my knowledge, no comic strip has been this far-ranging in setting up a story arc. Brilliant.

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