Around three years ago, I reviewed a coming-of-age comic called Taiki about a teenage girl in high school. While I initially considered the comic to be yet another high school comic, Taiki ended up being more about Taiki’s realization that she was gay, and her relationships and friendships while in school. Still, I must admit one of the reasons I read the comic was it was on my update schedule; there weren’t really any special moments or elements that stood out and encouraged me to review the strip after the initial review.
This saddens me as the notable event that has finally drawn a Secant from me is cartoonist Laura Knatt’s decision to wrap up the comic with Taiki’s graduation from high school. While Knatt originally intended on the storyline continuing past high school, her decision to end things here make sense. The comic first began when Taiki started school (though I don’t recall if she was in her Junior or Senior year; she was sixteen, so it seems likely the comic went through a couple years of school). Thematically, ending things now creates a proper sense of closure for the strip.
If there’s one problem that Taiki suffered from, it would be the diffuse nature of the strip. The comic accurately portrayed the lack of purpose that many teenagers in high school suffer from… but when telling a story, it’s helpful to have a clear objective in mind. The lack of a significant plotline resulted in the comic drifting from story to story without leaving a true impact. This isn’t to say the comic wasn’t enjoyable; it is (and worth reading even as it has ended). But while the comic touches upon several elements including a young lesbian’s realization of who and what she is, it failed to impart much emotion into these revelations.
For seven years now, I’ve been writing reviews, though I never quite realized how many comics I’d reviewed until I compiled a list of strips I’d reviewed. Along the way, I’ve had updates sputter almost to a stop, struggled with writer’s block, and revamped how I write reviews several times. In some ways I suppose the sheer art of reviewing has mimicked the webcomics I review. But the one thing I’ve always regretted is when a comic comes to an end, be it a natural end of a storyline, or the abrupt cessation of a comic when a cartoonist decides to walk away. The latter just occurred with Al Schroeder’s superhero comic Mindmistress, which he terminated halfway through a storyline he’d been struggling heavily to write. And yet, I honestly can’t hold it against Schroeder; he’d realized that he’s told all the stories of Mindmistress he needs to… even with the one failed story he’s terminating prematurely. When you get down to it, webcartooning is as much for the cartoonist as for the audience. And after a decade of creating, Schroeder deserves a break. I just hope he doesn’t decide to retire from webcomics for too long, as I’ve grown to enjoy his storytelling.
Webcomics come to an end for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the ultimate reason comes down to time… or a lack of it. Even the simplest of webcomics can take an hour or more to draw, upload, and post on the internet, and when actual effort goes into the artistry and writing of a comic, that time increases significantly. Still, I can’t feel bad for the end of the science fiction webcomic Crimson Dark, as the author has gone on to be hired to work for a computer game studio on the game Star Wars: The Old Republic. Furthermore, David C. Simon finished the first book of the comic. Far too many webcomics end in the middle of stories with no closure at all.
What’s more, Simon doesn’t plan on simply abandoning the world of Crimson Dark. Instead, he has plans to continue the story as an illustrated online novel (which I must admit is not nearly as easy as it sounds). Personally, when you consider there are a number of webcomics that update every other week or even monthly, I wouldn’t mind seeing the next “book” of Crimson Dark to be told as a webcomic but with a more gradual pace. But I understand the frustration that authors feel with the glacial pace of monthly (or even weekly) webcomics, which would make an illustrated online novel more attractive. But whether Simon goes down the route of illustrated online novel or continues the webcomic with a slower update schedule, I look forward to seeing his future work, and wish him luck with his new job at BioWare.
After seven years, T Campbell’s high school webcomic Penny and Aggie has finally come to an end. Interestingly enough, Campbell’s epilogue showed that his titular pair didn’t have a “happily ever after” together after graduating from high school. While we didn’t get a precise reason for their breakup, it’s fairly easy to piece things together, what with Aggie’s qualms about her relationship with Penny leading up to the epilogue. As to what happens next? In all likelihood the two get back together (as that surreal “future mindscape” comic when Penny went off with Rich hinted at). But I’m not really sure why. It’s been several years, and both characters moved on. It feels more like “destiny” (or Campbell’s whims) is dragging them back together rather than any legitimate reason. Nor does this epilogue really do anything. Campbell could have left it off with Penny and Aggie going off to college… maybe even parting ways in the final strip, rather than this awkward dance after the music comes to a close. It doesn’t matter; Penny and Aggie has ended, after all. But there are lessons here on how not to end a comic: with a “huh” rather than a bang or whimper.
One concept I’ve found fascinating is how science fiction authors often run with the belief that a cybernetically-enhanced person hardwired into a vehicle or ship would feel pain when the machine they’re wired into is damaged. I suppose it’s a natural extension to the concept that the vehicle becomes an extension of the person, with the machine “becoming” the cyborg’s body. Still, I must admit I was initially confused with the latest update for Crimson Dark, when the Scarborough (which has finally joined the ongoing battle) was fired upon by an enemy destroyer (in retribution for the Scarborough blowing a hole into their engine, admittedly enough); I wasn’t quite sure why there was a word bubble with “ow ow ow” in it until I thought it over a little. It’s a fun idea. Unfortunately, it can be difficult getting the concept across to readers without taking up more time than it’s worth.
As an aside, I want to wish cartoonist David C. Simon good luck at his new job at the gaming company Bioware as a writer for the MMORPG “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” Unfortunately, this means that Crimson Dark will be coming to an end at the end of Chapter 12; given the climactic nature of this chapter, I was half-expecting the comic to come to an end (as it felt like it was coming close to wrapping up). Simon plans on resuming the story once he’s moved to his new job and settled in, but will likely alter the format to an illustrated prose form instead of the existing graphic format.
After almost eleven years, the webcomic Striptease has finally come to an end. Amusingly enough, considering my previous complaints about how the last storyline was dragging and taking too long, Chris Daily took his foot of the brakes and wrapped up the epilogue in five updates. In doing so, there were a couple minor holes left unanswered (such as why Max and Allie moved to California or what Max was doing instead of drawing comics – I doubt he’s working in a comic book store out West, after all!), but in all it was a refreshing change of pace and helped avoid ending fatigue. I wish him luck in his future webcomic endeavors.
All good things must come to an end. Today, Sarah Ellerton’s Victorian horror webcomic The Phoenix Requiem has wrapped up its storyline that first started over three years ago. Back in September of 2008 I referred to TPR as Ellerton’s opus, and that remains true even now with the story come to a close. I must admit, it has been a wild ride along the way, with Jonas taking up the abandoned mantle of the Mehdiea to become the caretaker of the dead even as his dead wife sacrificed her immortal soul for him and to protect humanity from the Spirits. It’s a fascinating evolution of a character who when introduced was whimsical and half-mad to this resolute shepherd whose job will likely not end for millennia. While Ellerton never explained why Anya didn’t join Jonas in his travels (or if she is still bound to him much as he’d been bound to Ksendra, which I suspect may be the case), she did wrap things up nicely with Jonas returning for a brief time to be with Anya before he returns to his duty. As for Ellerton, it appears she’s taking a long-deserved break (as she’s been cartooning for close to eight years now, starting with Inverloch) before hopefully starting up another webcomic.