Two readers have gotten in touch to say they were disturbed by Kayleigh’s move on Matt, in Dork Tower 1997, and that it was tantamount to assault.
This is an important point to bring up. And since you’ve now seen the follow-up strip, I thought I should talk about that.
Matt and Kayleigh’s relationship goes well back to the earliest Dork Tower comic books. It was on-and-off, then ended as Most Definitely Off, as of THE TAO OF IGOR. It was never good, and most definitely framed to be unhealthy.
In the Dork Tower webstrips, Matt and Kayleigh have been “exting” – drunk texting/flirting with your ex – recently.
Apparently I needed more than the single strip earlier this year to get this point across.
Some readers did remember that strip, and brought it up in their replies.
I sure should have emphasized that aspect more (say, in two or three more strips, at least, a few months ago). It also would have made for some fun comics (I’m imagining Ken and Igor’s horror at the discovery, here).
I didn’t want to give too much away, though. Also, I assumed most readers knew about the rather broken nature of Matt and Kayleigh’s relationship, from the comic books.
I made the wrong calls.
I dislike describing it as “toxic,” but given the nature of their relationship, plus the “exting,” the kiss seemed, to me, a move that Kayleigh would definitely make, both as a power play over Gilly, but also because there are some honest feelings for Matt. To me, it was in the nature of her relationship to Matt – she’d always be the one to take charge.
What seems a natural character dynamic in my head made little sense to a few readers. I hadn’t laid the groundwork fully enough. Particularly not for readers who unfamiliar with the comic book storylines.
The web strip has taken off, and I need to remind myself that this form is how the vast majority of readers now know and consume Dork Tower. The current storyline is my attempt at handing off the long-term character development from the Dork Tower trade paperbacks, post-TAO OF IGOR, to the web strip.
Though overall very well received, this has certainly led to some a couple of folks asking legitimate questions.
Lastly, some relationships are just bad, and some characters will do things in certain situations that are just not cool. To say the least,
Kayleigh has always regarded Matt as hers. Her making this move is obviously wrong on any number of levels (simply to spite Gilly being at the top). Writing about an awful move most certainly does not mean I’m endorsing it.
However, I *do* need to make sure readers know where that move came from, and how it is framed in the context of the characters and their history and their relationships.
I’ll be going into the background of the Matt-Kayleigh connection in upcoming strips. I almost changed Dork Tower 1998, to show Matt’s arms around Kayleigh sooner.
Only a couple of readers brought this up, but they do have a point.
This was sloppy plotting, on my part, and I’ll do better