The Funnies Ain't So Funny Anymore

By Omri 
 

Issue #9 
 

      Hello everyone.  Nice of you to join this small forgotten corner of the internet again.  Please keep your extremities inside the vehicle at all times and do not be tempted to touch the exhibitions  Today’s trip will take us back to the Vertigo imprint, straight to a world of “a retro-futuristic city of industrial gray,” home to Dave Gibbons’ The Originals. Please do not rock your vehicles as your Hovers will break if tipped over.  Please sit back and enjoy the ride! 
 

      So, I can’t really classify the genre of this book.  Or put its message into words.  Or, for that matter, say what I felt as I read it.  There was something weird about it. Something nondescript and baffling, that I just could not relate to.  I’ll be honest here – I’ve never been in a situation remotely similar to the ones described in this graphic novel, nor for that matter, met any person who (at least openly) did.  It’s like Grease, but take out the comedy and happy ending, and infuse it with more violence and gang attitudes.  The story is about two childhood friends who idolize a street gang – the Originals – and end up joining them.  Their dreams are realized as they rise up the ranks, buy their own Hovers (hovering motorcycles… took a while to get this one) and beat up the opposing gang (the Dirt).  But the dangerous lifestyle takes its toll and where in Grease everybody ends up happy, in here it all ends in tragedy, a revenge binge and multiple losses. 
 

      But I don’t want to review this book.  I just want to talk about Warren.  Warren is just another guy whom our protagonists, Lel and Bok, know.  Well, know is a bad word here – perhaps ‘friend’ is better.  But that’s not accurate either.  You see, Lel and Bok are Warren’s friends, but Warren is not Lel and Bok’s friend.  How does that work, some of you might ask?  It’s very simple: he’s the tagalong.  No one talks to him, no one ever invites him, yet he always somehow finds out and joins the group.  As far as he is concerned, he is just participating in his group of friends’ activities.  But in reality, everybody hates him and wishes he was gone.  This is a very common occurrence in high school (were our characters are at the time), and we’ve all seen it to some degree or another.  But these situations are very hard to get out of.  More often than not, no one wants to be the one to tell this guy to leave, for fear of being put in the spotlight later.  But Lel and Bok are very vocal about their feelings.  They constantly put Warren down, call him names, curse him, and in more than one occasion actually throw glass bottles at him.  But I’ve seen this first hand – its not enough.  Our tagalong always considers these to be jokes, his friends are just teasing after all.  I mean, why would your best (and only) friends throw a bottle at you unless they were drunk?  Why would they call you names if it wasn’t their way of accepting you?  What kind of sane, reasonable man would even consider the possibility that he’s all alone just because his friends are playing a joke on him?  And so Warren continues to follow them, not getting the message, because frankly, that message is devastating. 
 

      Soon after our guys join the gang, Warren joins it too.  Why wouldn’t he after all?  But all of a sudden he’s become a part of something bigger, and he can finally break off that dependence.  He finds new friends. Real ones this time, but always has to come back to Lel and Bok for approval.  But the change boosts his self confidence – or does it?  He goes after girls: Lel’s girl.  He gets a coat and a hat typical of the gang members: identical to Lel’s, of course.  And buys the fastest and most expensive Hover out there, to of course show off and outshine everyone.  If that isn’t a scream for attention, I don’t know what is.  But back when I was in that situation (Lel’s not Warren’s), I’m not proud of saying that I missed those pleas. Perhaps I purposely ignored them, like I’m sure Lel was, but that only makes things worse.  In any case, since help did not come but new friendship due to his misled actions did, he becomes cocky and takes his act to the extreme.  It is obvious by now Warren is not like that – it’s all an act, a show put up to fit in, but is far removed from his nature.  So far removed that he really has no idea what he is doing while in character.  And it shows.  During one of their fights with the Dirt, Warren hides in the corner, away from all the action, but when opportunity arises and one of the Dirt ends up defenseless, trapped under his motorcycle, that’s when Warren walks in, proud of himself for joining the fight.  And with a switch-knife no less.  Of course, he was wearing the clothes which were identical to Lel’s, and so the entire Dirt now think it was Lel who killed their friend.  The few friends he found still stand by his side for a while, but as soon as the whiplashes and revenge strikes come, even those friends realize what Warren has done, and leave him.  Warren is now truly alone, and he knows it, but he still thinks he did the right thing.  Oh yeah, and by book’s end, even those he considered his friends turned on him and set him up, either to be murdered or, if he’s lucky, to prison.  Some friends, eh?  But we’ve established from the beginning they weren’t his friends.  What about those “new” friends?  I can easily say they were just befriending the guy with the most expensive Hover, hoping to get some of the wealth themselves.  Sounds like Warren was doomed from the start.  Its one thing to stand in the sidelines and say “he should have just left and found a new crowd to hang around with,” but an entirely different thing to be in his position and abandon his ‘friends.’  What would you have done if you were in Warren’s shoes?  That’s purely speculative, as the physical circumstances always distort the situation. But seriously, all Warren ever wanted was to fit in.  To be accepted.  To be part of something.  Was that too much to ask? I seem to remember Snapper Carr being the same way, starting out dragging after everyone, but eventually realizing he could be so much more on his own.  If only Warren would have followed suit, so many tragedies could have been avoided.  But we can’t really blame him – he did “cry” for help and show all the signs.  His companions were simply too arrogant and high to notice or care.  There are plenty of people out there stuck in these situations, constantly feeling like outsiders looking in, or in some cases like Warren, feeling ‘in’ but actually being ‘out.’  If left unchecked, these people could develop some serious emotional instability or trauma.  I’m not saying we should all become crusaders to the cause.  All I’m asking is that you look around you, around your own circle of friends, and ask yourself if one of your pals needs some extra support.  Who knows, you might even be surprised at the depth of what these people have to offer.  I did it a few years back, and that “outsider” became my best friend.  So no rant this week, just a simple request: open your eyes.  You’ll be amazed what you can see once you get past the group mentality that we are all invariably subject to. 
 

      So this one goes out to all the Warrens out there,

      Omri.