Out There #2000

Cidu Bill on Feb 8th 2013

Congratulations to R.C. Monroe on his 2000th Out There strip.

I reviewed Out There six or seven years ago, shortly after it began (I think I may have been the first to do so), and said it was thoroughly entertaining. And that while I wasn’t sure how long he could keep the concept going, I was going to enjoy it while it lasted.

Okay, I was wrong about the “keeping it going” part, and it’s mostly because of the characters: they’re both well-defined and capable of surprising us.

And that leads into another thing I was wrong about: a few years ago, two of the characters seemed to be hooking up in what seemed to me a “jump the shark” moment waiting to happen. This disturbed me to the point where I wrote my first-ever e-mail to a cartoonist, and (quite presumptively, I know) asked him whether he was really going to go there. He wrote back “Trust me, Bill.”

In hindsight, this relationship made perfect sense, and turned out to be one of the best storylines in the strip.

Out There is the first strip I read each day.

Filed in Bill Bickel, Out There, R.C. Monroe, comic strips, comics, humor | 41 responses so far

41 Responses to “Out There #2000”

  1. dd Feb 8th 2013 at 02:41 pm 1

    Wow, those years have gone by quickly! I still think of it as a “new” strip, and I started reading after your recommendation. I enjoy it, though I think I’d like it better reading a week’s worth of strips at a time - easier to keep up with what’s going on that way, maybe. I do like how the characters aren’t one-note beings.

    The first strip I read every day is another I think I got from you: Kevin and Kell.

  2. mitch4 Feb 8th 2013 at 02:59 pm 2

    There are by now some 5 or 6 books of collected Out There stories from the web strip, plus bonus features exclusive to the books. Quite readable in this format.

  3. Cidu Bill Feb 8th 2013 at 03:09 pm 3

    I’ve bought most of them, and the stories really do hang together nicely in collected format.

  4. Lola Feb 8th 2013 at 05:23 pm 4

    I too began reading Out There on CIDU Bill’s recommendation and have never regretted it. I think I even sent in an LOL Out There. Or maybe I meant too.

  5. furrykef Feb 8th 2013 at 06:28 pm 5

    I too started following on Bill’s recommendation, and I check it every weekday. I actually make it the last strip I check every day on the “save the best for last” principle (though there’s at least one other comic I like just as much, namely Out at Home — dialogue occasionally NSFW). This does have the unfortunate side effect that I miss it the most often, because sometimes I get sidetracked during my daily “checking comics” routine and forget to get back to it. But then I’ll get caught up on the next day… usually.

  6. Kilby Feb 8th 2013 at 09:48 pm 6

    This is the first time I’ve heard about “Out There”, but on Bill’s recommendation I just added it to the tail end of my set of daily bookmarks (I may percolate it forward once I’ve read it for a while).

    On the other hand, I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that I should not order the link set by “quality” (best comics first), but instead by the clock (by the hour that each daily cartoon becomes available online). Many of them update at midnight (typically EST, which means 6am here in Germany), but there are a number of exceptions, and some are simply irritatingly irregular).

  7. Keera Feb 9th 2013 at 06:15 am 7

    I started reading “Out There” when you first recommended it, Bill, but stopped. Can’t remember why. So I’ve started re-reading just to see if I can remember. Seems better and more polished this second time around.

  8. Kilby Feb 9th 2013 at 08:34 am 8

    I went back and reviewed about 6 weeks of Out There, but had the same experience that I had while I was catching up on the re-release of the original “Cul de Sac“: both seem better in small daily doses. I think it will be better to read just one strip a day for the next few weeks, and see whether Out There withstands the test of time (as Cul de Sac already has done - I’m really enjoying experiencing it “from the beginning”).

  9. mitch4 Feb 9th 2013 at 08:58 am 9

    Re Kilby #8: When I started reading “Out There” there was less of an archive so it wasn’t that much work for me to catch up from the beginning. It was quite helpful in understanding the later strips, in that there are some serious changes in character personality and appearance.

    I liked “Cul de Sac” as soon as I ran into it, but never felt an impulse to go back. Now that it has rebooted, I’m enjoying it fresh.

    When I started reading “Cow and Boy” I had mixed feelings about it all along. That was just the last year or so. I’ve considered dropping it, but didn’t bother. Now at GoComics, which has ceased carrying new ones, they have gone back to the beginning. What a revelation! Boy has a family! Cow was not always a weird mutant with big holes in her face! It’s soooo much more interesting than what it became.

  10. Usual John Feb 9th 2013 at 09:57 am 10

    Since I haven’t been reading Out There, what’s the long-anticipated event that took place in strip #2000?

  11. Jon Delfin Feb 9th 2013 at 11:12 am 11

    So glad I got to the comments before anybody answered your question, Usual John. I keep OT on a pinned browser tab, and whenever I get a chance, I read a month or two’s worth of strips. It’ll be a while before I get to #2000.

  12. Cidu Bill Feb 9th 2013 at 12:23 pm 12

    I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning the way Jon is because this is a strip that respects its own history.

  13. padraig Feb 9th 2013 at 12:35 pm 13

    Oh THAT’s what that existential not-quite-breaking-the-fourth-wall conversation was about.

    Anyway, I like this strip because it’s witty, and the characters have in fact developed over time, and the evolution of relationships has been pretty realistic based on my distant recollections. Plus Miriam reminds me of this hot bartender chick I used to know….

  14. Dave in Asheville Feb 9th 2013 at 09:18 pm 14

    Wow, just saw Out There for the first time. So I have 2000 original strips to enjoy? :-) Thanks for no spoilers here yet.

    I think I dated Miriam in grad school (briefly).

  15. Dan W Feb 11th 2013 at 09:54 am 15

    Well it looks like I’ll be spending the rest of this work week catching up…

  16. Less Reality, More Fantasy, No Baby Blues Feb 13th 2013 at 03:51 pm 16

    This reminds me that this year is the 35th. anniversary of one of my favorite comics, regardless of what others think, Garfield. Garfield is not the kind of comic you can really appreciate through occasional reading, as Jim Davis does tend to use certain jokes as crutches; but if you read it on a regular basis or read through the archives, you get to see that it does produce clever, subtle comics like this: http://comicsidontunderstand.com/wordpress/2011/10/15/sunday-funnies-special-saturday-cidu-edition/

  17. Kilby Feb 15th 2013 at 07:41 am 17

    @ 9 - “…there are some serious changes in character personality and appearance…
    I hope so. I’ve been reading Out There for a week now, and it seems to specialize in women drawn in scanty negligees, with an occasional crotch shot to make it more racy (the latter are of course always blocked by a strategically placed ankle, hand, or coffee cup).

    I’d like to know when the “jump the shark” sequence started (the one that Bill mentioned above), maybe that would be a better time to link into the strip.

  18. Marko Feb 16th 2013 at 01:58 pm 18

    I lucked into Out There by some sort of kismet very early in its existence, so I had just about eight strips to read at once. All it took to get me hooked. What you’re all saying is true - well defined characters you can really care about and nicely planned storylines. A certain amount of LOL, and as far as “adult themed” it’s just a few steps past PG-13; nowhere near R.

  19. CIDU BIll Feb 19th 2013 at 02:33 pm 19

    Kilby, you really can’t just take a week’s worth of Out There strips out of context. The strip isn’t entirely about Miriam’s sex life (though she probably assumes it is).

    This week’s strips would be comprehensible if you hadn’t been reading the strip for a few years, but would probably seem fairly pointless.

  20. Lost in A**2 Feb 19th 2013 at 04:05 pm 20

    I’ve been playing catch-up with the strip for the past week. I’m guessing Miriam is talking to Chuck in this week’s strips, which illustrates the change in appearance.

  21. CIDU BIll Feb 19th 2013 at 04:44 pm 21

    Lost: Miriam and Chuck are still completely recognizable as Miriam and Chuck. I would suggest you not read this week’s strips until you’re caught up.

  22. Kilby Feb 20th 2013 at 02:58 am 22

    @ Bill (19) - My comment (@17) was not directed at the jokes or the plot in this week’s “Out There”, I never expected to fully comprehend the strip right from the start. I was merely objecting to the interminable and gratuitous depiction of women in underwear. It’s an irritating distraction from whatever point the author is trying to make.

  23. Lost in A**2 Feb 20th 2013 at 04:05 am 23

    Mr. Bickel, your politeness is unmatched. Thank you.

  24. Lost in A**2 Feb 20th 2013 at 08:48 am 24

    No, it’s not. That’s what Mr. Bickel was getting at so very gently. I don’t know which day inspired my original observation.

  25. Keera Feb 20th 2013 at 02:16 pm 25

    I’m a woman and when we’re at home with our female friends/roommates, we do hang around in our underwear, especially if we’re painting toenails or dying hair or waxing legs or whatever. And the rest of the time, dress to show off all that work. ;-)

  26. Elyrest Feb 20th 2013 at 04:59 pm 26

    Keera - Don’t let them in on all of our female secrets!

  27. Kilby Feb 20th 2013 at 06:28 pm 27

    @ Keera & Elyrest (25 & 26) - I’m not demanding realism. Besides, many of the strips in question have the girl in underwear talking to a man, not another girlfriend.

  28. Lost in A**2 Feb 20th 2013 at 09:37 pm 28

    (Once upon a time, there was a response between 23 and 24 above, asking about ’spoiling.’ I sort of wonder what happened to it.)

  29. mitch4 Feb 21st 2013 at 02:00 am 29

    Yes, that removed posting was my note clarifying something, with a last-minute worry it might amount to a spoiler. I guess it was seen that way and removed for that reason. That’s fine — I didn’t want to run anyone’s fun, just wasn’t sure if that was the question people were circling around.

    (The removal does make Lost’s “No, it’s not” at #24 feel uncontexted.)

  30. mitch4 Feb 21st 2013 at 08:07 am 30

    BTW, I keep seeing ads for a series (animated) called “Out There” to start sometime soon on IFC. But it doesn’t look like it has anything to do with this comic.

  31. Keera Feb 22nd 2013 at 11:02 am 31

    Kilby @27, I’m one of several who is now reading “Out There” and I haven’t noticed any women in underwear around men out of context*. But if you want, how about all those guys being obvious about their ogling, huh? :-)

    Elyrest @26, not to worry. They’ll just add it to their fantasies. See Kilby’s comment about “not demanding realism”. ;-)

    *Miriam, usually, which fits her character.

  32. Kilby Feb 23rd 2013 at 12:49 am 32

    @ Keera (31) - I know nothing about Miriam’s character (or lack thereof), but if it’s not “out of context“, how come none of the men are lounging about in their flimsy underthings?

    P.S. My fantasies include finding good new webcomics that don’t use thinly disguised soft-core porn in their quest to attract (primarily male) readership.

  33. Cidu Bill Feb 23rd 2013 at 02:33 am 33

    Actually, Kilby, I suspect Out There was a larger female readership than a lot of web comics: the leads are women, after all, and there are definite soap opera elements.

    I find the “underwear” panels tend to be a lot more playful than sexual. Seriously, context does matter, and you’re not going to get that without reading the strip.

  34. Keera Feb 23rd 2013 at 03:55 am 34

    What Bill said. Am enjoying catching up on “Out There” with a good latte right now. :-)

  35. Kilby Feb 26th 2013 at 04:59 am 35

    They’re back in the bar now, and everybody’s wearing real clothes, and suddenly the interactions seem much more real.

    Now if the cartoonist would just invest in a decent font that anti-alias better at the display resolution he uses.

  36. Dan W Mar 11th 2013 at 03:02 pm 36

    Well it took longer than expected, but I’m finally caught up. Thanks for introducing me Bill! I’m curious which storyline you thought was going to be a “jump the shark” moment.

  37. Lola Mar 11th 2013 at 07:02 pm 37

    Dan W. I was wondering the same thing.

  38. Keera Mar 12th 2013 at 03:20 am 38

    Me three. I’m all caught up and curious about which shark may be jumped. I feel one’s in progress now but that’s because I think Chuck’s nearly non-existent as a personality so why him?

  39. Cidu Bill Mar 12th 2013 at 10:54 pm 39

    The relationship that began at the out-of-town wedding a couple of years ago. Not only did they become my favorite couple, but the wedding storyline was one of my favorites as well. “She gets her sense of humor from me”

    And Keera, I agree about Chuck’s non-existent personality.

  40. Lola Mar 13th 2013 at 07:49 am 40

    OH, yeah. I remember that ….. now that I’ve polled the audience and phoned a friend, of course. :)

  41. Keera Mar 13th 2013 at 04:38 pm 41

    Bill, that wedding storyline was some really good writing.

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