The plot thickens! Well, not really. I guess they’re mostly standing around cracking jokes about Jesus. Still, though. It’s all supposed to go somewhere, I promise.
This strip more or less marks the introduction of a new character, but it’s one that’s been on my mind for a long time now. For anybody who’s been reading the comics for a couple of years now, they might remember a storyline I did a couple of years ago featuring a teddy bear sold at a bookstore as a promotional item during Christmas who, after the holiday season, is no longer needed and suffers a crisis of purpose. The storyline ended when the teddy bear, seeking a new vocation and having lived his short, sheltered life in a bookstore watches Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled and, seeing neither the irony nor the tragedy of it, is inspired to embark upon a career as a blackface entertainer. Sadly, there seemed to be no place for his act in our modern world, and the story ended with him being approached by something that looked ominously like a lynch mob.
That wasn’t meant to be the end of the story, though. I had the vague outline of a whole epic adventure for the little bear, and I stopped because I realized that I liked it a little too much to continue with it as I’d started it. The bear was based, none too subtly, on a bear that had been sold at the real-life bookstore where I worked, and I didn’t think that they’d appreciate a version of their possibly copyrighted character becoming a hard-drinking alcoholic, making inappropriate advances toward a small boy, dancing in blackface, and accusing the company of implicit antisemitism for their Christmas-centric winter decorations… among other things that I had the bear doing. Some big corporations are funny about stuff like that. Go figure. So I decided that, if I wanted to continue the storyline, I should come up with my own renamed and redesigned teddy bear character. They can’t copyright the idea of a teddy bear being sold at a bookstore, I’m pretty sure, and that’s all that remains from the original concept. I hope to redo the whole origin story with the elements that I liked from what I did originally, but with this new character, and then I’d like to finally get to the big future plans that I had for the teddy bear. But until I manage to get around to all of that, this second Swine Flu comic is the next in an ongoing storyline, so stick with it and enjoy.