Funky Winkerbean, March 16
Yes, it turns out that Cory was safe all along, leading to a sigh of relief from everyone involved. Well, everyone except the families of the 16 people who actually did die in the crash. They're probably pretty upset, I don't know. Maybe so upset that they didn't make a pun and then smirk at each other in a dimly lit pizza restaurant, which is why they aren't starring in a hilarious comic strip that runs every day right next to Garfield.
But then, we have the punchline to both the strip and the entire story arc, so named because the experience of reading it is a lot like being punched in the kidneys by a newspaper. While Funky and Holly have been focusing on their own imagined tragedy, secure in the knowledge that no one could be suffering the way they are, their nephew Wally, a veteran of the war plagued with PTSD, has been reacting to the very mention of the crash by white-knuckling his arm chair in the midst of a week-long panic attack so severe that his rictus has finally drawn the attention of his fiancee and his loyal therapy dog.
You see, while we all think of ourselves as the protagonists of our own stories, those around us are suffering in ways that we cannot even imagine. No, that's not right -- they're suffering in ways that we can imagine, because their suffering is the same as ours, but we choose not to see it, focusing on our own momentary respite from the horror of death and nothingness that follow us at every turn, because the alternative is be crippled by the fear, the isolation and loneliness. Wally understands this, and so the tragedy of others becomes his own, echoing the horror of his time in the war, and despite the progress he has made, he crumbles beneath the weight of human misery. There is no progress. Happiness is an illusion, and the reward for a long life is that, like Funky's father, you may one day have the chance to choose how you die.
Have a great month, everybody!