A dozen years ago (yeah, that long ago), I reviewed a small collection of very funny strips about Todd and Archer, two young, gay Republicans in love. Dylan Edwards‘s Politically InQueerect was a work I enjoyed watching grow over the years, from a one-note joke to fully realized characters, from one-pages to longer stories. The new collection published by Northwest Press, entitled Politically InQueerect: Old Ghosts and Other Stories1, compiles some of the existing material, selected by the author, including the never-collected “Old Ghost” story.
As you can see above, the visual contrast between the first appearance of Todd and Archer, shown alongside the introduction by Edwards, and the new, 36-page “Old Ghost” story couldn’t be more pronounced, and not only because the former is in black and white while the latter is in lush, vibrant colors. That being said, the temperaments of the two characters were already there at the beginning, with Archer being the surly, always-complaining tight-ass and Todd his laid-back, ironic companion. They’ve gained a varied cast since their beginning, as is the case again in “Old Ghost”, where Archer’s Britain-based grandmother has decided to leave the family mansion for a smaller abode and the two guys (one complaining, guess which one) go with Archer’s mother to help pack. Like all respectable, old British houses, this one is full of ghosts, or so claims the grandmother, to Todd’s expressed delight and Archer’s continued annoyance.
A discussion about rationality versus the power of belief (and not only religious belief) follows throughout the story, in various forms: more or less serious between Todd and Archer, bickering between Archer and his grandmother, with snippets of Archer’s childhood memories (let’s just say he had an active imagination) contrasting with–or maybe accounting for–his adult, in-your-face logical explanations for every little family traditions of haunting and blood on the wall. I almost find myself agreeing with him, though it would pain me to have anything in common with such an abrasive guy, apart from his taste in men.
Edwards manages to entwine this discussion with very funny scenes of everyday life, of Todd and Archer quarreling like an old couple–but after all, they are an old couple. Both Todd and Archer are full of faults and failings, which of course adds warmth to the characters, who become far more than mouthpieces for the creator. In fact, those discussions I mentioned are not resolved, and neither viewpoints get the upper hand. “Old Ghost” is a nicely dialectical exposé in the shape of a comedy where opposites attract.
The rest of the collection is comprised of a dozen pages of older material, with the added bonus of author comments, something I always enjoy. Politically InQueerect is Dylan Edwards’s at his more whimsical (see Transposes for his more serious side), and I think it’s a testament to his talents that he’s managed over the years to build characters the reader comes to care about, without forgoing the “odd couple” aspect of his strip.