Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur

Some things you only see on the second time through

By Dave Menendez
Thursday, June 15, 2006, at 9:46 PM

Summary: While re-reading part of Questionable Content, I found a subtle off-hand reference to a then-unknown character.

One fun thing about re-reading is discovering things which seemed innocuous or insignificant during the first reading, but which have a new significance when you know what’s going to happen later. Inspired by a recent post at Websnark, I was reading through the Questionable Content archives and found one such moment.

The character Hannelore, a quirky/crazy blonde with a cleaning fixation, first appears in the December 18, 2005, strip. Soon enough, it is revealed that Hannelore lives in the same building as Martin and Faye, vacuums at four in the morning, and has secretly been watching them while working up the courage to introduce herself.

This might seem like a straightforward introduction of a new character, albeit one who “has been bouncing around in [the author’s] head” for a long time, as Jeph Jacques notes in his comments for December 20, 2005.

How long? Consider this: back in the strip for March 9, 2005, Martin and Faye are visiting what will become their new apartment. The sales agent makes an off-hand comment that the resident of room 226 vacuums at odd hours. That’s right: Hannelore’s appearance was foretold nine months in advance.

What’s more, there are no references to her between March and December. Unless you have a super-good memory, this is the sort of thing you’ll only notice when you’re re-reading, simply because the reference in March was so understated.

Mr Jacques, my hat is off to you.