"Stranger Things Season 2 1/2" Talkback

Peter Paltridge

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The biggest storyline in Platypus Comix history begins today. This is just the opening act; the foundation of what's to come. Stick with it; it's going to get INSANE.

I approached Stranger Things Season 3 with caution, not knowing what to expect despite the deafening hype. Seeing that every season's conflict just seems to be an escalation of the one before it, you can only do that so many times before hitting diminishing returns. But....it wasn't this time. I LOVED Season 3.

The writing was great, the cinematography was vastly improved, all the jokes landed, the suspenseful scenes were geniunely intense, and that mall was amazing-looking. And the characters' personalities were so vibrant and bold you couldn't help but love them, even the ones that just arrived like Robin. The Duffers hit it out of the park, I thought.

And THEN

the season ended with Hopper supposedly dead, El powerless and JOYCE MOVING AWAY, TAKING HALF THE CAST WITH HER! THEY'RE ALL SEPARATED AND THEY'LL NEVER ADVENTURE AGAIN, SOB SOB! Though I have no doubt that some of these things are going to reverse themselves in the following season, who even knows when that season will show up. You get me so attached to these guys and then ya DESTROY EVERYTHING. What a cruel surprise at the end of a season so well-designed. It's like producing a giant chocolate cake in front of a small child, and then smashing it with a sledgehammer after he takes one bite.

Worse yet, there's no telling if the season that will resolve that stuff is going to be the last one or not. At different times they've promised four seasons, at others five. Imagine waiting another two years or so and, despite any possible happy endings, mixing it with feelings of having to say goodbye to the cast for good. Don't you want more? Don't you want just ONE MORE adventure with the original gang unspoiled and together?

So do I. Let's do this!
 

Zorak Masaki

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I literally just started Stranger Things (so far I've only seen the first two episodes of the entire series). Is this going to be very spoiler-heavy or still enjoyable for those who dont know everything about the show up to this point?
 

Peter Paltridge

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I literally just started Stranger Things (so far I've only seen the first two episodes of the entire series). Is this going to be very spoiler-heavy or still enjoyable for those who dont know everything about the show up to this point?
Knowledge of the first two seasons' events is required -- so come back after you've gotten that far. I hope you can finish them quickly.
 

Dsneybuf

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Unfortunately, it looks like someone other than me will have to start the TV Tropes page, since I still haven't seen any of Stranger Things.
 

twilicorn

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Unfortunately, it looks like someone other than me will have to start the TV Tropes page, since I still haven't seen any of Stranger Things.
*sigh* I'll do it.
I have a confession, I never really read Platypus Comix for the comics, but I'll start on that one and put together a nifty tropes page.

But yeah the ending of Season 3 was a big yikes from me. Fingers crossed that season 4 WON'T take nearly two years to show up. The pressure's gonna eat me alive.
On an unrelated note, since I've started watching Netflix again, I'll probably start Hilda or She-Ra next.
 

Peter Paltridge

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Chapter Two is now live!

Ideally, a better cutoff point for the end of Chapter Two would have been twelve pages ahead of where it currently hangs, but I can only draw so fast, especially when multiple characters appear in every panel like they did this time -- sometimes on bicycles.

Some of my favorite scenes in this story don't occur until the final chapters, but I do like the kids plummeting their bikes off a cliff because, as it turns out, Eleven has only seen the FIRST HALF of ET.
 

Peter Paltridge

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Chapter Three is up! That's 39 pages within one month...and that's not counting BANG. I haven't achieved that kind of output in a while.

One minor nitpick I have about the show, and about period settings in general, is that they seem firmly obsessed with the culture that was current at the time, when that's not how culture actually works. Culture then, as is now, is obsessed with the past, usually the past that is 20 to 30 years old. In the 1980s, you would have heard a lot about the 1950s. Stranger Things is missing oldies stations full of doo-wop, and flashback drive-in burger joints, and creepy middle-aged men who never got over their crushes on Annette Funicello. You can't just restrict a period piece to what YOU feel fuzzies about, not if you want to get it right.
 

Peter Paltridge

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Chapter Four is up, and it's comprised of what would have been chapters Four and Five, had glitches not prevented me from putting up the completed Chapter Four two weeks ago. As a result, a whopping 22 pages have just been added to the story!

I knew there would be a break between parts three and four, I just didn't know how long it would be (six friggin' months it turns out). The downtime was necessary, though, to get a running start, because once the story picks up from THIS point, it doesn't let up until the very end, and any extended breaks would kill the momentum. So I found a natural stopping point, when everyone goes to sleep, and then....Christmas and a bunch of other things happened.

Since I don't have the writer's bible in front of me, I have to take a guess at these characters' personalities based on the existing seasons of the show. My take on the original gang of four is that Mike is the impulsive one, Lucas is the smart one, Dustin is the goofy one and Will is the timid one. And Eleven can have any of these traits, because as the center of the story, she handles both funny and serious scenes and needs to be the most three-dimensional character.

I was thinking one day about how some shows end by showing "flash-forwards" to what the characters are doing in the future. And then I thought such an ending might be a mistake for Stranger Things, since it would take the characters out of the 80s (and you darn well know Netflix is going to force the story to continue at some point, rendering such an ending non-canon). Based on that, I thought it might be fun to see what Mike's own vision of his future would be, based on the trajectory his life seemed to be heading. It was very fun to make. Lots of CRT video phones and other items the 80s assumed the 21st century would have.

If Chapter Four had appeared when it was supposed to, Smurfs would have been playing on the TVs. It was Smurfs until yesterday, when I thought "LOL, what if they were watching GLOW?" Season two of GLOW happens during the same time period as season 3 of ST. The only problem is that the Netflix GLOW only has the series airing in one region (California). You could have watched the real GLOW in Hawkins though, if there was a Hawkins.

I don't know if Murray knows who El is (he knows of the lab, thanks to Nancy, but...) There was an "introduction" scene that I wrote but didn't use.

MURRAY: "I don't think I've seen YOU around before....what's your name?"
ELEVEN: "El."
MURRAY: "The letter L? Were your parents hippies?"
ELEVEN: "No, E.....L......it's short for........actually, never mind what it's short for."

Subtle joke: Dustin puts on his helmet over his hat. Because what is he going to do, take off his hat?

Part of the reason this part took so long is that there are SO MANY PANELS WITH CARS. Cars are an absolute pain to sketch, especially from weird angles. Thank goodness for our modern age and 3D reference models. Looking at the finished colored pages, most of the cars turned out fine, but getting there wasn't easy.

We lost Erica's scene! Now she doesn't appear! Originally when they ran into the unfinished mall, they heard a noise and hid. Dustin asked Lucas to casually peek around a corner. Lucas peeks and...it's just Erica standing there.

"Oh for crying out loud, you guys, it's my sister," Lucas says while standing up. "Even if she IS part of Four's army, I'm pretty sure I can take her."
Erica then proceeds to beat the living tar out of him. Funny stuff, but it broke up the tension of a situation that was supposed to be getting more dire.
 

Peter Paltridge

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But yeah the ending of Season 3 was a big yikes from me. Fingers crossed that season 4 WON'T take nearly two years to show up. The pressure's gonna eat me alive.
Bad news: it took three. And you haven't really posted since. I take it the pressure ate you alive.

It's the day you thought would never come! After departing on a cliffhanger two years ago, STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 1/2 IS RETURNING! A brand-new chapter launches TODAY!

You can read it now, or start from the beginning. Even though it's long, starting from the beginning is highly recommended...everything that happens from this point refers to something that happened earlier.

Start from Page 1:

Start from Page 75:

Yes, the most recent season lit a fire under me to come back to this. It was previously abandoned just before it reached what was my favorite scene, which you can see now.

It is now my second favorite scene. My new favorite scene is the ending. I revised the ending and, to be honest, I believe it is THE BEST ENDING I'VE EVER WRITTEN IN MY ENTIRE FREAKING LIFE. No hints yet; the comic still has a few more parts to go. BUT IT IS TURNING OUT AMAZING.

I was really into making this back in 2019 and thought coming back wouldn't feel the same, but the moment I started again, it was like I never left it. I instantly started cooking up revised scenes and dialogue for the remainder of the story that were even better than before. My mind was working just as hot as it was three years ago. I don't know what it is about THIS particular story, but this has never happened to me before.

I. LOVE. THIS. STORY. SO. MUCH.

But there were two reasons I was very reluctant to begin writing it in 2019. The first reason was, by making this, I'd be latching myself to Stranger Things on an emotional level that would not exist had I NOT written the story. When I am writing for characters, I like to get into their headspaces and try to feel what they feel, so their emotions and dialogue come off as authentic. I don't know if this is a universal writing experience, but Tumblr in its prime seemed to suggest it was. Thus, this story has the potential to ruin Stranger Things for me. I figured I was on safe ground by picking the central couple of the entire series, but you never know -- Mike could leave El for Will next month.

Which brings me to the second reason I was reluctant to write this...even though I love the story, the whole thing can be instantly negated by forces beyond my control. One major contradiction, and it becomes Star Battles. I watched what has been released of Season 4 with deep unease as
the show repeatedly, REPEATEDLY hinted that El was actually evil and her heel turn was about to hit. This would have invaildated the entirety of my story, in which the main concern is to PREVENT her from turning evil. Only at the last minute before the cutoff did they reveal who the actual villain was, and I could finally sink into my chair and breathe easy. Keep in mind, I was one of the few viewers savvy enough to actually know One would be introduced eventually. My deep hope was that the massacre was his doing, not hers, but they sure kept that close to the vest.

They finally revealed what I believe is the full backstory of Hawkins Lab, and Four's origin managed to survive. Of course it was carefully designed to avoid conflict with any future plot revelations in the first place. I picked the number Four because I figured it was less likely to be used than other numbers were, and my guess was right -- though all the experiments were present in some scenes, and there is a Four in the credits, Four was never addressed by name or played a significant role in a major scene. Four was also the first to escape, predating Kali (and the massacre), and due to his power everyone forgot him. And if all that failed, I also had the fail-safe remark of "Wouldn't be surprised if they got another Four."

The story could still be ruined. Season 5 could really suck, or the Duffers could come out as TERFs, or something else that makes the brand poison. Too much is out of my hands, at least until the series finally wraps up in 2023 (or later).

BUT I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH >_< It's been a long time since something I've written has brought me so much joy. What can I do?
 

Peter Paltridge

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Miscellaneous Variety Section #23 - Stranger Things Season 2 1/2 (Page 85)

In the latest chapter of STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 1/2, Four is just seconds away from achieving his goal of mindwarping El into his own personal weapon! She and Mike are in a standoff against him alone, with limited resources! Can they pull off a win?

I said last time that this story will end with the best ending I believe I've ever written. However, I'll be watching the actual show with nervousness when it returns a few days from now, because there's a chance it could actually ruin that ending.

I'm not talking about it somehow using the same ending (that's unlikely). I'm not talking about any significant characters dying, because this story takes place well before then. And I'm not talking about the possibility that El and Mike "break up" again because that's the kind of tropey BS the show engages in to keep romantic tension going, and would obviously be temporary. I'm talking about something different...and if it happens, I'll point it out. Hopefully it won't happen.
 

Peter Paltridge

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IT IS FINISHED!

Today's the day! It's all here! Grab your syrup bottle and just TRY to devour the 112-page waffle stack that is STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 1/2! We dare you!

Start from Page 1:

Start from Page 96:

People might ask, "If there's Steve, where's Robin?" And I'd have to reply, "I don't know if Steve knew Robin prior to Scoops Ahoy." So I avoided using her, even though I wanted to. But ultimately I realized, "there's no proof that he DIDN'T know her before then, is there?" So....here's Robin. Her ONE appearance in this story.

Though the vast majority of this story was locked down back in 2019, I went through many different versions of this final scene. It was always meant to end with El and Mike in the barn, pondering their entire lives up to that point and just where it could all be heading. But I never could decide exactly WHAT they'd be talking about.

The one thing all the versions of this conversation had in common was they were all both bittersweet and dour. I was saying goodbye to these characters -- I could not control what ultimately happened to them. If one or both of them die in the TV show, that wasn't up to me. So most of them used the basic framework of Mike and El being unsure of their future, but vowing to be there for each other as long as they could, if possible. It was sad.

And this new ending struck the same tone, at first. Mike calls back to his vision of the future -- and then El completely shatters his dreams, pointing out it is far more likely she will be discovered some day and hauled by the government away from Hawkins, never to return. This also tied back into the vision from the lodge of El's fears.

But then something unexpected happened. Mike suddenly SLAMMED his hand down, and then refuted everything she just said.

I never truly know how the daydreams that write these tales are going to go. So Mike doing this was not something I saw coming. But it was not only completely in character for him, he was 100% right. And I was wrong. That would NOT be the end. Her friends would save her.

This ending not only surprised and moved me, it changed my perception of the entire series. In order to write an effective story you need to find the emotional core; the thing the audience cares most about. What's the emotional core of Stranger Things? It's El and Mike, right? So the entire story revolves around their relationship. But Mike's speech made me realize it was much bigger than that. Stranger Things is about an entire community of people who would do anything for each other, and often have to.

That's why this is my favorite ending I've ever written. It heads toward a sad and melancholy close -- and then POW!!! Giant blast of optimism! And that closing line from Mike is so powerful: "You will never lose your friends. And we're coming for you." I loved that so much, I instantly knew it was the final line of the story.

When this comic was officially revived during the hiatus between Season 4A and 4B, I feared the new ending could be ruined. 4A ended with the suggestion that the government might be headed toward re-capturing El, and then that would be her predicament heading into Season 5. Then the Duffers started talking about a possible "time jump" between those seasons -- which would mean El would be imprisoned for possibly years, meaning her friends WOULDN'T rescue her, or at least take a ridiculously long time in doing so.

But between that comment and the suggestion they would "edit" past episodes, which never happened, I now have to question anything I hear from them. After seeing the real ending, I hardly see how a time jump would be possible in such an urgent situation. Ironically, Season 4B ended up ruining my PREVIOUS ending.

Had the comic been completed in 2020, El would have worried in the barn that the fact Four went after Mike meant she was putting her friends in danger simply by being with them. To that, Mike would have blown up much like he does here, except he would've said he hated the trope of superheroes acting like they couldn't have relationships, and that he would willingly go through anything to be with her. The final line would have been from a relieved and glowing El: "Anything you say, Lois." There is a bit of humor in this because Mike would never compare himself to Lois Lane in the actual show, would he? BUT THEN HE DID!

Three years, 112 pages (not counting the mezzanine). Officially the longest comic in the site's history, one of the biggest, and one of my all-time favorites. Right now I'm leaning back and forth between declaring this or True Believers my second favorite story. I think that ending might have bumped it up to #2 and True Believers might now be #3 -- but it depends on my mood. To everyone who read the whole thing, thanks for going on this journey with me.

But keep clicking...it may not be the end after all.
 

Dsneybuf

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I sent the completed comic to a Discord Friend who's seen much more Stranger Things than I have, and he commented, "Aww, cute."
 

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