Feb 28, 2016

Petey's Boyfriend in "Cul de Sac"

It seems that comic strips I hate, like Blondie, go on and on and on, generation after generation of gags about napping on the couch and burnt potroasts.  But comic strips I like are short lived.

Cul de Sac had a syndication run of five years, from September 2007 to September 2012.

Ok, it's not cartoonist Richard Thompson's fault.  He discovered that he had Parkinson's Disease, and it's hard to draw with your hands shaking.  But still...

Cul de Sac is set in a fascinating, jarring universe, a suburban wasteland on the outskirts of Washington, DC.  The star is ostensibly 4-year old Alice Otterlooper, a preschooler who combines adult-level world-weariness and childish innocence.

But I think the real star is her older brother Petey, a neurotic outsider who is frightened by everybody and everything.  Her older brother Petey is a classic neurotic.  He is the world's pickiest eater.  He goes trick-or-treating in a costume consisting of a sign reading "Boo!" attached to his chest.  He is a devotee of Little Neuro comics, with a hero who does nothing.

Peter is unique, yet the type of all kids who grow up isolated, alone, hiding their desires and interests to survive.

Like every gay kid in a heteronormative society.

Petey has mild heterosexual interests.  A gigantic girl named Viola D'More (a play on d'amore) befriends and bedevils him.

Plus an admirer, Ernesto, who wears a business suit and belongs to the "Future Adult Guild."  Petey can't understand Ernesto's interest, and suspects that he is imaginary.

Later in the strip's run, Viola fades away, and Petey makes a "best friend," Andre Chang, at cartoon camp.  Andre is as gigantic as Viola -- apparently Petey likes them big.

The two become inseparable, in spite of Ernesto's jealousy, leading one to imagine that Andre is Petey's first real boyfriend.

Unfortunately, the strip ends shortly after the relationship begins.

It's easy to compare Cul de Sac with Peanuts, other children with adult voices, but while the Peanuts kids experience angst, cruelty, and pain, there is no pain in Petey's world, unless you count Mom forcing you to substitute a store brand for your favorite cereal.  There is no bullying, no cruelty.  No one even comments on Pete's favorite pizza: no red sauce, and cheese on the side.

It's a world I want to live in.