Sam and Fuzzy Q & A: Sam Edition
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"Sam seems way too idealistic to be the slacker he was as a cab driver, as you described Friday. Did he like his new change of lifestyle from hardworking college student to bad, lazy cab-driver for the first few years before the rut came in? And has he ever been actually good at anything at all? He hasn't been a good cab driver, boyfriend, bookseller, roadie (well, maybe he was good at that, but I mean he did sleep with the band lead's girlfriend), a Ninja Emperor, or as I see it, even now a 'problem solver'." -Chad
The Sam of today definitely is way too idealistic to be the slacker he used to be. But I think Sam has gone through a pretty major arc over the course of Sam and Fuzzy.
At the beginning of the strip, Sam is working his seventh year in a rut job he doesn't particularly like after failing his way out of university. It's not a very good place to be, and it's left him meek, unconfident and unambitious. He's idealistic, but he seldom acts on it, and he only really makes changes to his life -- like getting a new job at Bunton's Books -- when he is forced to by outside circumstances. Rest of Your Life and Empire are two stories from near the end of this era that really revolve around Sam realizing and dealing with his crippling personal aimlessness.
The Noosehead era revolves pretty much entirely around Sam's shift from being a passive figure to a more proactive one. It's particularly central to the plot in the chapters where he is on the run in the underground, like Memory Lapse, Therapy, and especially Last Call. It climaxes with him embracing his roll as ninja emperor and vowing to use it to help others like himself deal with the kind weird and esoteric problems that the Sam and Fuzzy universe tends to thrust upon people.
And of course, that's what sets the stage for the current era of the strip, starring the almost stubbornly idealistic Sam. He's still recognizably high strung and prone to occasional bouts of self-doubt, but he has figured out what he wants to do with his life and consistently strives to achieve it to the best of his ability. I actually think Sam is pretty good at his current job, considering how unusual and esoteric it is! It's kind of too bad the whole thing is in the process of being horribly destroyed beyond repair.
Well, those are my thoughts on the issue! Sorry they came out as a bit of an essay. It just so happens that this is actually one of my favourite elements of the strip. Sam and Fuzzy is far from a perfect comic, but Sam's character arc and development over time is something I'm pretty proud of, and something I hope helps to distinguish my work from series where characters have personality status quos that remain stagnant more-or-less eternally.
Come back on Monday for more comics!