Ah HA, this is why I need editors, they help me help you.
Why he's going home for the summer is self explanitory. He's still in SCHOOL in North Dakota, living in the dorms. One does not stay in the dorms over summer break. See, to me, that's always been a universal in life. Your friends leave during the summer if they live in the dorms.
So, to me he had to go home.
The only problem is...
...we'll get back to that in a bit.
I feel bad that I have to explain this. I should have made it more clear. I'm from the "less said, more seen" school of thought, which is to say, I don't like spelling things out for people. I like to see how they interpret what I'm thinking without to much nudging.
For instance, Chris does NOT think to highly of herself. There is a part of her that wants so much more out of life then what she's dealing to herself. But you're never going to see a "Beauty and the Beast" type of "I want adventure in the great white somewhere...I want it more then I can tell" type of song and dance for her...simply because I suck at parody.
And you nailed it right on the head, and I was very happy to see that the gentle nudging paid off.
You did miss something though, something that's been screaming out at me to say something about, hoping someone would pick up on it, but they haven't yet so I'm going to spill it.
the second to last pannel, check it out....
It's very important to her character. Chris COVERS herself. That's very important to the character, and I feel that it speaks volumes. I didn't even catch it myself when I was drawing it. When I was drawing the pannels I just drew what felt natural for her to do...it wasn't till I got done with the shading that I realized WHY it felt natural for her to do that.
In regards to the other concerns, (especially the dark haired woman) more will become clear in time. ALL will become clear much later, including how this woman play into everyones life. That's all I want to say about her. Speculate that there's going to be a love triangle, speculate that she's just a delusion concerning something DEEPER involving our hero, speculate that she's nothing more then an incestious urge over the spirit of a twin sister that was absorbed into his body in the womb.
Hmmmmmmm....now that's something even I haven't considered.
The reason why I don't come right out and say things is because I find it far more entertaining, and far more helpfull as a writer, to see the fans speculate on just what is going on. To see 20 brains all churning, all picking up little subtle things that I work into strips that even I haven't fully considered.
Is it going to change the overall story? No, I don't think so. The overall story is pretty well cemented in my mind.
But it DOES help me play with the nuances. it helps me see the characters in a differnet light then anticipated, and helps me give more flesh to the bony story in my head.
Which is why I wanted this forum in the first place, and got it shortly before the "big" strip ran, becuase I knew people would want to talk about it, and I knew that having people talk about it would be my greatest benefit.
So, thanks for talking about it, and I encourage you to continue.