Sam and Fuzzy Q & A: Order Edition
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"Are we ever going to learn anything new about Hazel apart from how she's evidently half Korean? I mean, I know people are theorizing about Brain like there's no tomorrow, but Hazel's kind of an enigma herself, don't you think?" -Joe
Yes she is, and yes you will! It's not in this particular chapter, but we'll be digging a bit more into Hazel once we return to the "present".
"As much as I love the Classic Omnibus, I must admit my biggest frustration is that Chapter 0 comes at the end of the book. [Specifically, because the point at which you made the cut is after Fridge has been introduced.] Don't get me wrong, I dig the new intro to the book, but as of now, when I give people the omnibus to introduce them, they either have to read it backwards, or just accept that this guy has a talking teddy bear roommate AND a demon fridge. I guess what I'm trying to ask is, what was your reasoning, aside from just being ealier more amateurish work (if there is one), behind taking taking away the slow burn of the first few stories and instead diving straight into Fridge's plot?" -BJ
For those who don't know, the Classic Omnibus [physical version available here, ebook version available here!] begins with a new intro chapter, then delves straight into the Classic series strips. The "Volume Zero" series --ie: the first hundred S&F strips -- are included in the back as a bonus appendix.
During Volume Zero, many of the individual strips do not appear to actually take place in the canon of the rest of the series. In particular, there are a lot of 4th-wall breaking ones where Sam and Fuzzy talk directly to the reader, like they are actors, rather than "real" characters who live in a "real" fictional world. There are also some strips that are a little tonally off, or that portray the characters with personalities that aren't quite in line with the rest of the series. This is because most of those strips were not drawn for the S&F webcomic specifically, but rather, were made nearly a year earlier as a comic for my university newspaper. (Before I even considered making a webcomic at all!)
Now, some people like those strips, and I have no interest in either eliminating them or "fixing" them George Lucas style. So I was definitely going to include them in the Classic Omnibus, in their original forms, no matter what. But I found that, as part of a collected book, they didn't really flow well into the story that the other 500-and-something pages are telling, because so many of them are so different. It felt jarring to include them at the front, particularly when a new story-focused intro chapter would be placed in front of them.
It's important to note here that I had been drawing Sam and Fuzzy comics for many years before the Volume Zero strips. There are many, many earlier strips that never ran on the site at all! And to me, a lot of that Volume Zero content has more in common with those earlier strips than the rest of the webcomic. So ultimately, I decided to place the Volume Zero strips in the bonus section of the Omnibus, alongside with some examples of the earlier pre-webcomic strips and other evolutionary bonus features. I just felt like they fit better there.
And then I created a new intro story to run at the front of the book -- one that briefly introduces Sam, Fuzzy, Lance, Ackerman, and Fridge to the reader before diving into the Classic volume. It is true that in this "in media res" intro, Fridge is already an established part of the regular cast -- you don't see the exact moment that he first possesses the refrigerator. But even in Volume Zero, Fridge is basically introduced out of nowhere in one gag strip, and then immediately becomes an unquestioned member of the cast. There's no big origin story there that the reader is now missing out on. It's just a joke: there's a demon in Sam's fridge. I think the new intro story just presents that same joke in a slightly different way, with him already there and the other characters commenting on it. It isn't really any more or less of a leap. It's just a part of Sam's initial status quo, just like his job and his cat and his talking bear roommate, before the big adventure begins.
Long story short, Zero is in the back because I think that makes for the smoothest read in book form. But if people prefer, sure, they can always read the appendix first! I don't think that's really necessary, any more than it's necessary to read the university newspaper strip version of Bone before reading the graphic novels. But it's there as an option for purists, and though I'm happy to encourage a particular reading order that I think is best for newbies, I'd never remove the ability to read it the other way by cutting out the older strips entirely!
That's a wrap for this week! See you on Monday, team.