"Dads are just a sneak preview!"
This arc, featuring guest art by Starline Hodge of Candi
, looks back at eleven-year-old Penny, Sara, Helen and Michelle, and their relationships with their fathers. At this point, only the first three are friends. Sara asks her father Theo if she's "normal," but declines to elaborate. When he passes this on to his wife Iseul, she assumes Sara has become interested in boys, and resolves to set up "play-dates" on her behalf. A flashback to Penny at age six sees her frustrated when her father, Rob, refuses to run with her, claiming he's tired. Five years later, an argument between Rob and his wife Lynda reveals that due to his high blood pressure, he's under doctor's orders to avoid physical exertion. He's unhappy about this and so is Penny, all the more because she's unaware of the reason. Helen's father chides her for having neglected to e-mail the invitations to her sister's recital. When her mother says they still love her, her father says, "But not right now," a statement that metaphorically sticks in her throat later.
Michelle, however, has a close and loving relationship with her father Bruce, in contrast to her present-day resentment of him. However, his wife (unnamed) notes that Michelle's been spending so much time with him since they moved that she hasn't made any friends, so they both encourage her to do so. Penny, Sara and Helen, in the midst of talking about how stuck-up they think Michelle is, are blindsided when she invites them out for pizza. They accept, although Helen is silently puzzled at the mutual shift in attitude, and Michelle's soon part of their group. The arc ends with Sara talking with amusement about a disastrous play-date with a paste-eating boy, and Penny wishing her dad would "spoil" her like Michelle's does. Michelle says that's what boys are for (see page quote).
For scheduling reasons, the arc ran in two parts, with Vertigo
appearing in between them in the archives. It's treated here as a single arc.
- Abusive Parents: Helen's father, in the sense of verbal abuse and implied favouritism of her older sister.
- Because I Said So: Neither Rob nor Lynda explain to Penny why he can no longer run with her. Presumably this is so she won't worry about his health, but instead, as seen in previous arcs, she feels she's lost the active, fun-loving father she used to have.
- Daddy's Girl: Michelle.
- Doting Parent: Sara's mother Iseul. (Her father Theo loves and cares for her too, but Iseul is the one who makes it her business to get her started dating boys.)
- Paste Eater: Sara's play-date Pete. She points out to Iseul that the reason he was so quiet is that his lips were stuck together.
- Shout-Out: The arc's first strip is an almost identical copy (dialogue-wise) of the first-ever Peanuts comic, right down to Michelle sharing a last name with Charlie.
- The Un Favourite: Helen.
- Unnamed Parent: Michelle's mother.