Sam and Fuzzy Q & A: Friday the 13th Edition
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"Now that inhumans are out of the closet, so to speak, why does Jess still hide in her room all day? I'm reminded of the Mystique character from X-Men, and how she resents hiding her real form. Why wouldn't Jess let the slug flag fly?" -Jim
Well, supposedly the true forms of the shapeshifting slugs are so unsettling, so disturbing, and so incomprehensible that they choose not to reveal them to anyone, including other inhumans.
In fact, according to the Underground RPG (available physically here and digitally here), they don't even use their natural slug forms in their own underground homeland! Instead, their intensely communal, individuality-discouraging society requires them all to live as featureless utilitarian blobs. I don't think any of them think of their slug forms as their "normal" selves... just an annoying thing that happens to them if they are exposed to sunlight.
Jess, like most of her rare fellow expatriate slugs, was drawn to the outside world because of a desire to live as an individual with an individual identity. That identity is the Jess Star we all know and love, and her human form in the comic is the one she feels best represents who she is. I don't think she's interested in running around in slug form, even if she had the option.
"So what's going on with the rest of the Samm's family? His sister Susan must be devastated what with him vanishing, then being framed for murder, then releasing Buddy, then vanishing, then not-Sam reappearing, then being exposed as head of a crime syndicate, then vanishing again. And for not getting her Noosehead tickets. I would say his semi-canon parents miss him, too, but they probably still thinks he drives a taxi." -Tom
I think Sam's family thinks of Sam as the son/brother whose life is kind of a mess, who lives far away, and who seems to be in various kinds of legal trouble at various times... but who still calls every now and then to assure he's doing just fine (while avoiding providing any additional details). I don't think they really appreciate exactly how much trouble he has been in, or how weird his life actually is.
"Congratulations on finishing this decades-spanning story. I was with you since back in when Sam and Fuzzy were just wayward cabbies. (Or one wayward cabbie and his sabotage-loving sidekick.)
The one thing that keeps getting to me though is the arc of poor Sam Samms. All this discovery, all this growth, from down in the dirt to all powerful megalomaniac, Sam came through on the other side by embracing the good inside himself. And what does he get, here at the end? Two girlfriends who dumped him (I really miss Nicole), no money, no stability, and no real… anything. Fuzzy’s a millionaire celebrity with major holdings. Rexford is.. also a millionaire celebrity (Only dinosaur has got to be a celebrity, right?). Devahi is a major player in the surface work of NMS. Lance and Alexa are happily married. Aaron has his giant pet store. The world is sorting integration out. Heck, even Bonus has a TV spot.
But poor ol’ Sam? [...] I just kind of feel like he got the short end of the stick, you know? Am I reading into this wrong? Is there a message you wanted to give? Or did I miss something? I just feel bad for Sam, here at the end of things." -James
I don't think I was actively trying to send "a message," no! I just wanted to write a character-driven story. But of course, as always, the stories I write can't help but reflect my own perspective about what a journey like Sam's "means".
Sam is a character very dear to my heart, and I'm very proud of his arc over the course of the series. But if earlier stories were about Sam learning to be confident and believe in himself, more recent ones have been about what it's like when you start to drink to much of your own kool aid... when unchecked confidence grows into impatience and self righteousness.
Despite having the best of intentions, Sam wrecks a lot of things in his life. Certainly not everything bad that happens to him is his fault, but a lot of the problems you list are of his own making. Like, Sam's girlfriends dumped him because he didn't treat them very well. That wasn't life dealing him a bad hand. He earned that. It's a little self-destructive. Sometimes it's kind of hard to watch!
But hey! Sam's story is not meant to be a tragedy. This ain't Breaking Bad. It is, ultimately, a story about how someone can realize their mistakes, learn from them, and as you said, "embrace the good inside themselves". I guess I just think the rewards for doing that, while great, are internal, not external.
Plus, Sam only reaches that point at the very end of the story! So no, at the exact moment we leave Sam, life has not yet magically fixed all his problems or showered him with rewards just because he turned himself around. Instead, unlike a lot of the other characters, he's just at the beginning of something. His "reward" is a chance for a completely fresh start, with the growth and experience he needs to build a better, healthier life for himself. And he has the respect and support of his friends, who will have his back and help him out, just like he would (and has) for them.
I think of that as being a very happy, hopeful ending, personally! But sure, you could say it's sending a certain kind of message. It's probably telling you something about me, and how I view the world, which kind of mistakes you can actually fix and which kinds you just have to live with and move past. And you know what? Maybe as a person who has needed a fresh start or two in his own life -- and who just finished an 18-year project, haha -- I am predisposed to want to tell a story that says that it's ok to find yourself at the start of something new.
Personally, I think Sam has lots of good things ahead of him! If I was a different type of writer, I might have even shown that by doing one of those "ten years later" type endings, where we jump forward to a time far in the future when Sam is happy and settled and doing well for himself. But -- and this is maybe a personal thing -- I really hate those kind of endings! I'm sure it works in certain stories, but in general, it just kinda feels like babying the audience to me. Rather than outright tell you that Sam's life is going to be great, I would like to leave you with the confidence that he can make it that way.
That's a wrap for this week, friends! But come back on Monday for our next comic.