The Best Characters of 2009: Part Four

This list is certainly movie-heavy, so let’s look at one of the comic characters that really stuck out in my mind.

Archibald

kyeh kyeh kyeh!

When I started working in VFX, I spent a lot of time on the night shift. It was the nature of the beast back when actual film was still a major part of the process. Work had broadband internet long before I had it at home, though, so I always had something readily available during those long nights of watching numbers tick by. This was during the heyday of UFO and conspiracy websites, thanks to the popularity of X-Files. It wasn’t as easy back then to tell reputable sites from a crackpot GeoCities page, and as such the entire affair had a patina of plausibility. Put a little Art Bell on in the background, and it made for many a night’s entertainment.

I think I knew the party was over when Robert Patrick replaced David Duchovny, which is a shame because I like Robert Patrick, and I hate to have the death of a pastime forever tied to him. It wasn’t long before Art was retiring from radio every 6 months and you could hear more about the drama of his personal life than the drama of his callers. I’ll do the occasional google trawl on the old topics; MAJESTIC-12, Bob Lazar, Aurora. It’s diverting for a while, but it’s just not the same now.

All those nights on the web honed my observational skills, though, so as I walked down the new comics rack last March, I wasn’t surprised that I instantly twigged to the cover of IDW’s Groom Lake(written by Chris Ryall and art by Ben Templesmith). I’m easy when it comes to taking a risk on a comic. If you can sell me on one thing, be it good art, a name I know attached to something new, or even just an interesting premise, I’ll probably bite. (This occasionally draws interesting reactions from Janice, who’s my firewall for such impulses. My penchant for pretty art can usually be put down with a quick “Oh, god, not that writer.”)

When I flipped through Groom Lake, reading random panels to get a sense of it, Archibald sold me– every out-of-context action made me giggle out loud. He’s a captive Grey alien with a penchant for novelty t-shirts, human genitalia, and smoking three or four cigarettes at once, sort of an R-rated Invader Zim. Templesmith’s habit of drawing him in trucker hats for cover art didn’t hurt, either. Much like Steve from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, when Archibald talks, it doesn’t seem like he’s saying much, or making much sense, but he’s more consistently on-point than most of the other characters in the series.

I can’t call Archibald a moral compass, unlike Steve, because his motivations basically come down to “chocolate” and “the desire to watch humans copulate in new and interesting locales (that aren’t Area 51’s underground base).” He’s endearing all the same, and he earns a spot on this list for not only getting me to buy all four issues of the series, but for making me downright giddy every time a new one appeared in the store.

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