I should do more honor to this character in the blog post than I did in the comic. Basically this character was initially supposed to be a stupid joke for this strip. I still love that strip, mostly because it has no real punchline — it’s just this kind of stupid escalating situation based on the hilarious idea that Brian Eno made some kind of computer called the OBLIQUE STRATEGIST, that for some reason outputs to ticker tape, and that’s as gnomic as real Oblique Strategies are. Yet while real Oblique Strategies are fun ways to generate new kinds of thinking about whatever it is you do, they are not really a good method for DETERMINING THE COURSE OF A MULTINATIONAL EMPIRE, hence the joke. Because it would ruin it to have a coherent “summary” kind of punchline, I decided that the last panel should just be this arbitrary hunk of “webcomics drama” where one totally negligible minor character confesses this like undying passion for another character.
But THERE ARE NO MINOR CHARACTERS! There never can be.
So later, when I knew that the plot had to involve bringing back Dascha Rand as a kind of fun ersatz gay Uncle Scrooge figure, it made total sense to reintroduce Leonard as a source of wacky exposition, potential drama, and arbitrary pathos. The fact that he has this secret love for Dascha Rand has pretty much absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the plot — like, he sees the Main Character as this Serious Rival and the Main Character really has no interest in Dascha whatsoever. He is really sad and embittered, and he gets, like, beaten up by children.
The end “joke” of course is what you see above: that Leonard makes this grand heroic confession and gesture in an effort to truly prove himself worthy of his one undying passion, and there is no effectiveness in it whatsoever. I don’t even know what he was thinking. That he’d jump in front of these bullets that were fired what, a full minute ago? That he’d like land harmlessly on the dock and confront the shooter? They’re not even near Manhattan Island anymore. I really have no idea what his idea was here. And yet there is a crazy kind of glory in it, maybe.
But I am done torturing him now. He has been most notoriously abused. The whole point was to have a heterogeneous character who typified like, Scott Summers/Jean Grey comic book torrid passion, who was essentially there for the other characters to kick around. Charitably you could call it some kind of sophisticated parody of Ayn Rand books, I guess, but really it’s just mean, and I feel pretty low down about doing this now. But what else do you do with a character like this? What else do you do.
Um, so TUNE IN THURSDAY to see what effects this gesture may have had, everyone, in the FINAL PAGE OF OUR CURRENT CHAPTER
(Other notes: He is named after this guy, who I actually met once in 2004 at an event related to a college philosophy class I took that his wife taught! I remember that he was kind of obnoxious during the actual event — I asked a question that made mention of copyright law as “arbitrary,” meaning “decided by an arbiter of some kind,” and he flipped out and said REALITY IS NOT ARBITRARY! But then I talked to him after the event and he was the nicest guy in the world, and told me that it had taken him years and years of dedicated study of philosophy to understand why nothing is “arbitrary,” and that I shouldn’t be hard on myself. He seemed legitimately concerned about this in a way that I, um, hadn’t altogether come to expect from philosophy professors, so I guess I saw fit to pay him the extremely dubious honor of being the inspiration for this character who I’ve just coldly dispatched.)