Over the years since I started reviewing comics, I’ve watched some of my favorite strips succumb to hiatus. It’s understandable, seeing that few webcartoonists can make a living drawing comics online (which is undoubtedly disheartening to many cartoonists), but often real life issues and time constraints tend to be the issues most likely to send a comic into hiatus (followed by ill health). Fortunately, some comics have managed to pull themselves out of hiatus as time constraints fade and issues are dealt with… and just this evening I learned one of my favorite comics, the fantasy webcomic Runewood Abbey, had started updating again without my being aware.
As I mentioned in my initial review of the comic two years ago, RA seems primarily to be a character-centric comic, and while there is an ongoing continuity, there doesn’t appear to be any actual overarching storyline. While I initially thought each chapter focused on one specific character, taking a closer look I’ve noticed that there are no “stars” to the comic; while the first chapter served to introduce much of the cast, the second chapter (as an example) was as much about how Nansa’s sisters were concerned about her as much as being about Nansa herself.
Despite there being no all-encompassing storyline, writer Rachel Spitler and artist Michael Brewster have slowly been expanding on the back story for the sisters. One thing that I find fascinating is the hints that prior to taking up residence in the abandoned Abbey the comic is named for, they seem to have worked for the Duke (or someone in a position of power at least). Given the low fantasy setting (in which magic is not commonplace and the people live in a feudal society) and the sisters’ fears of being persecuted, their voluntary exile to the Abbey makes some sense. Still, I must admit I’d love to see more of the sisters’ past and what led to their curses… and their exile.
Hints of this were already given with the introduction of a seventh sister, Ferryn, and her nightmare of what might be the origin of the sisters’ curse; it would be fascinating to see more pieces of this puzzle out of the revived Runewood Abbey… or, for that matter, the identity of the last two sisters, and why they do not stay at the Abbey. With the hiatus now over, readers may finally start getting answers (and, no doubt, more questions) even as Spitler and Brewster continue to expand on the characterization of the sisters. Hopefully real life will be lenient toward the strip, and the comic will not succumb to hiatus once more.
Addendum note: It appears, as comments below have pointed out, that Runewood Abbey slipped back into hiatus even before I noticed it. Hopefully it’ll return to active updates sometime in the near future.