'9 Chickweed Lane': I can't be the only one utterly riveted by this comic strip, right?

9-Chickweed-LaneImage Credit: United Feature Syndicate, Inc.For roughly the past ten months, I have been utterly transfixed by the comic 9 Chickweed Lane. I’ve actually been a fan of the daily strip for years, which, since its start in 1993, has focused primarily on headstrong professor-cum-farmer Juliette living at the titular address in New Hampshire, and her headstrong ballerina daughter Edda living in New York City. Drawn and written by Brooke McEldowney with a mix of elegant whimsy and tart erudition — words one rarely uses when describing the funny pages post-Calvin and Hobbes — it is always a brilliant way for me to start my morning.

Since last November, though, McEldowney has used 9 Chickweed Lane to tell a single ongoing story, which only this week appears to be coming together in a deeply poignant climax. The ambitious, moving, and still often pungently funny tale has been told almost entirely in flashback by Juliette’s usually cantankerous mother Edna (a.k.a. “Gran”) as her daughter sits at her bedside in the hospital. Set mostly in WWII-era England and then ten years later in New York, Edna tells Juliette about how, as a USO singer and covert spy, she came to fall in love with both an American intelligence officer and an Austrian P.O.W. Right there, you’ve got the makings of classic romantic melodrama, but McEldowney somehow keeps things from getting too crassly sentimental or unfolding in too obvious a fashion. And he’s barely wasted a panel doing it.

I can’t be the only one obsessed with this story, right? Please tell me I’m not, PopWatchers, and if you’ve no clue what I’m talking about but have been intrigued enough to read this far, I highly recommend starting the story at the beginning by clicking here. (The full-color Sunday strips aren’t part of the narrative, but they’re still a great introduction to the strip’s other characters, including Edda’s nebbish beau Amos and her gay roommate and dance partner Seth.) When you’re done, tell me this isn’t one of the most engrossing and well-told stories from this year, because I clearly believe it is.

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  • Leslie

    I stumbled upon Brooke’s other comic Pibgorn first and then eventually found 9CL early this year. I started from the beginning and read all of them in a couple of months. I’ve been utterly engrossed in this story and find it to be one of his best in the series.
    You’re definitely not alone Adam.

  • Sean

    Yes, you absolutely can be. Comic strips haven’t been relevant/funny in decades.

    • Katja

      I know, right? I mean, back in MY day, when bread was a nickel and we walked to school knee deep through the snow uphill both ways, comic strips were really clever and funny. None of this modern garbage. Same with movies and television shows. You never heard Lucille Ball using foul language. We had good family shows with morals and values, and any other form of entertainment is just wrong. Tastes are not allowed to change over time, and everyone is entitled to my own opinion. …is that about right, Sean? ;) (No offense intended, your comment just sounded amusingly crotchety.)

    • fairportfan

      While, i’d wager, you never were.

  • Amanda

    I am right there with you on this one – this is the first thing i look for in the morning

  • Katie

    As a night owl with a similar obsession, I wait till 1am when it updates on the Houston Chronicle’s website to find out what will happen next.

    • Karkina

      I’m right there with you Katie, I’m really sad when he updates later than usual ’cause I have to go to bed without knowing what will happen next.

    • Marie

      It’s worth staying up until 1 just to see the update!

  • justjack

    LOVE Chickweed but haven’t been following it lately… thanks Adam, I’ll check it out.

  • Jess

    I have been reading this story from the get-go as well. It really is so interesting. I can’t wait to read it every day to see what happens next.

  • Ikia

    Been avidly following as well. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out!

  • Frank

    I am totally hooked!!!! It has been very touching.

  • Karen

    OMG – this is the first thing I look for every morning! I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I can’t remember another comic being able to make me well up with emotion the way this has done (while balancing with tart humor and wry observation.) A rare rare treat. I’m so glad I’m not the only one. :)

  • Karen H

    Absolutely a brilliant strip! I keep hoping there will be a book so that I can re-read and relive every moment.

  • Saskfan

    I could tell you you’re the only one obsessed by Mr. McEldowney’s magic, but I’d be lying. The characters are discussed in our house as if they were real people.

    Pibgorn is as popular here, also be mr. McEldowney. It’s a bit different, more earthy, but just as good.

  • Scott

    I thoroughly enjoy this strip, each and every day!

  • cynthia

    9 chickweed is my all time fave strip! the way brooke spins her stories are phenomenal. i think that when amos & edda consummated their relationship, it was done in a tasteful & classy way. just beautiful! this on-going plot with ‘gran’ is wonderful

    • WhitneyD

      His! Brooke is a man.

  • maeverin

    I’ve been a fan of 9CWL (and his other strip, Pibgorn) for years, and this arc in particular is my favorite (so far). I dearly hope we can have a print edition in the near future.

  • Daddyb

    I used to like comic strips, but since the greats have retired it hasn’t been the same. I will give props to those who continue to do it in this cut-throat blood-from-a-turnip comic strip less world (Not much profit in it and the major syndicates don’t pay much is what I’m trying to say). I still sometimes enjoy non-sequitor and usually enjoy Zits. Used to love “The Norm” too. Never a big fan of 9 chickweed, though.

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