On the list of things I've been quite enjoying lately is Brightest, a web comic by one Chuck Bourbon. It's a bit of an odd duck in my regular reading lineup: methodically slow, introspective, and relationship-focused. There's nary a hallucinatory sidekick in sight (although the protagonist drinks enough for one to appear), and it's all about girls getting it on.
Well, not entirely. Charlene is our Hamlet of a heroine, and we meet her several months into her personal stagnation. She's broken up with her long-term boyfriend, lost her job, and chased away nearly all of her friends with her general sad sack state. (And the one friend she's managed to retain has gone all Mother Hen on her, leaving Charlie to hate her even as she so desperately needs her.)
Just when Charlie's life is in need of a thorough shaking up, she gets one in the form of Alex. A green-haired, chain-smoking lesbian, Alex takes Charlie home for an unexpected night of passion. At first, Charlie imagines it's a one-time thing, a bit of secret sauce on her reheated hamburger of a life. But a surprise meeting with Alex makes her wonder otherwise, and soon she racks up a second notch in her new sapphic belt. Charlie starts to wonder: Do these carnal encounters mean she's gay? Or has it just been so long since she's been an object of affection and attention and lust that she'll happily bat for the other team?
Charlene is one of those wonderfully frustrating characters who are hard to turn away from, even at their most self-pitying. She's grown so comfortable with the awfulness of her life that she refuses to make any steps forward. She won't look for a job, won't socialize unless forced to, won't even look for a new apartment on the eve of her eviction. She longs to float through this stage of her life on a cloud of cigarettes and booze and wake up somewhere older and better. She's a person most have us have known (or perhaps been) at some point in our lives, and you just want to smack her in the face and scream at her to wake up and get a grip. Fortunately, Brightest has some screaming and face-smacking in store -- just in between the longer bouts of awkward moments and self-loathing.
[Brightest -- Occasionally NSFW]