Looking For Thoughts – Royal Squirrel Girl
Join longtime LFG fan and current LFG writer Ryan Costello as he looks at an element of Looking For Group lore, trivia, or development, and shares insight into why he appreciates it. This week, he bows before to her majesty, The Squirrel Queen.
The Legend Of The Squirrel Queen
As you might have seen me say if your follow me on Facebook, when I started writing LFG, I believe Lar’s only concern was that I would pull out a bunch of continuity references that cut so deep, he completely forgot about them. I waited a few months, but it’s time to make his fear a reality. The Squirrel Queen is the deepest I’ve cut so far.
And yet, is she a deep cut?
Squirrel Queen first showed up on page 634 (as reader Garry Cylon helpfully pointed out in the comments on page 1664). While sidequesting together, Cale and Richard found the missing children they were looking for. Found out they turn into weresquirrels, that is!
Surprisingly, in the short time since they went missing, these weresquirrels adopted a monarch, a magical squirrel of indeterminate power.
As these things tend to go, we learned the squirrel queendom’s backstory, including their creation myth, before the Squirrel Queen sends our heroes on a secondary side quest to defeat their rivals, the rakkuns.
The twelveth NPC arc revisited the Squirrel Queen, exploring her personal story. It wasn’t a silent issue, since the characters spoke Squirrelese, but the lack of language the reader understood would make Larry Hama proud.
The Squirrel Queen’s Legacy
If you read LFG via archive deep-dive, the Squirrel Saga might barely register as part of LFG history. However, you might be shocked to learn how long the arc ran if you read this era of LFG in real time.
Because Looking For Group releases two pages a week, a 28 page issue takes 14 weeks or 3.5 months to complete. That means the Squirrel Queen first appeared on Feb 7th, 2013. As of this writing, she last appeared in the main line on September 5th, 2013. That’s 7 months. Seven months where lfg.co greeted visitors with Cale and Richard’s ongoing issues with a Squirrel Queen.
To be clear, I’m not saying this was a bad thing. Not only did this one story arc squeeze in three of my favourite LFG gags, but I loved how Cale and Richard dealt with the absurdity of it all.
Squirrel Queen Highlights
My three favourite gags from the Squirrel Saga are:
Page 630 ends with Cale suggesting the way to overcome the Squirrel Hulk is to “hit it with a newspaper”. Sohmer dedicated the following page to Richard pulping a tree, writing the news, and inventing a printing press, just to have a newspaper to hit it with.
What starts as a perfectly fine anachronistic gag turns into an confusing sequence of delightful panels in which Richard wears two (two!) microcostumes. It’s also a nice change that Richard takes Cale’s suggestion and uses his antics.
We’ve seen a lot of children in peril in LFG. Usually Lar shows them as emotional wrecks or deliriously cute. For the weresqirrels in human mode, they only ever looked miffed. Resigned to their fate, just a little put off.
The most absurd example is when the caves start collapsing and Richard ties the children together to use them as an umbrella. The three panel comic concludes with another nice Cale/Richard exchange.
The punchline a few pages later actually made me laugh out loud the first time I read it. And none of that insincere LOL where all the laughing is in your head. I was silent. I saw the last panel. I made a noise. That noise? Laughter.
I love when a comic catches me off guard. LFG doesn’t benefit from page flips, so Lar had to compose these panels in a way that readers didn’t spoil the gag by glancing in the wrong way at the wrong time.
The Squirrel Queen’s portrayal up until now helps make the punchline a surprise. Even though Cale and Richard had no tolerance for the absurdity of the Squirrel Queen, they’d still treated her with more respect than most NPCs. Richard hadn’t laid a hand on her or threatened violence. He barely acknowledged her.
And then CRRAAACK into the wall in front of the shocked children. They didn’t care when Richard turned them into an umbrella, but they did not like this disrespect for their queen.
Then, on page 702, we get one of my favourite LFG payoffs. As luck would have it, the Rube Goldberg of sidequests Cale and Richard ping ponged off of before returning to the main quest worked in their favour.
Aelloon’s caster goons go to summon their back-up, the rakkuns, on page 701. Cale and Richard setup the next page by reminding us that this isn’t the first we’ve heard of them.
The Squirrel Queen shows up looking absolutely killer in rakkun skull armour. She does a mocking dance, shows off the only butthole in LFG history (to date!*) and then leaves. She hasn’t been seen since (also to date!)
The Future Of The Squirrel Queen
So if her exit from the series was so perfect, why bring her back?
I am invested in LFG’s continuity, and I like playing with its established elements. Moreover, the shift to a cyberfantasy setting means checking in on old characters comes with the opportunity to explore how they’re dealing with the world collission. Soon, we get to see how it affected the Squirrel Queen.
How easily Vat scores a win over the Squirrel Queen is yet to be seen.
Now you know,
*alternate joke: (Unless you count every appearance of Cale)