Unended Stories

I hate comics that never ‘end’ but just vanish.

My hate started with this Vertigo comic from the 90s, about a guy with a bunch of tattoos. It was supposed to be a four part series called Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man. For some reason, the fourth part never showed up at my comic shop and I was never able to find it in any store, anywhere, in the San Diego area. Very upsetting to me at the time, and frustrating to no end, because I couldn’t see how they were going to wrap it all up in one last comic.

Eventually I gave up wondering, moved on, stopped reading quite so many comics, and grew a little in a different way. I still read comics, don’t get me wrong, I love ’em, but I only buy two right now. Detective Comics (only so long as it stars Batwoman and the Question) and Echo (which I actually only pick up in trade form). It’s perhaps more accurate to say I read one comic (Echo) and follow two DC characters (Batwoman and the Question). Thankfully there’s comiXology, which lets me pick the issues I want, punt ’em to a pull list, and my wonderful guys at Evil Squirrel hang on to them till I get back again.

But I still hate the unresolved. I hate the end of stories a great deal, because if I liked the book, then I know I’m not ready to say goodbye to the characters just yet. On the other hand, I don’t always like series. Like How Green Was My Valley is a great book, a fun read. Don’t read the sequels. They’re terrible, they retcon and screw up history, and they’re just not worth it. A story should have an ending that makes you feel like the important part of the story is over, the hero journey is complete.

The problem with comics is that there really is never an end and, really, there can’t be for most of them. Some comics, like Terry Moore’s inimitable Strangers In Paradise are epic sagas of heartache and redemption that, in the last minute, come back and end happily. By even SiP, which I love and own the special trade collective omnibus, suffers for the length. Moore, bless his heart, even calls himself on his own crap, and has a character deride the story for being too repetitive, a never ending cycle of love lost, found, and lost again. The wrap up for SiP is almost too neat, but I give Moore credit for coming to an end and not just vanishing.

Too many good comics that I’ve gotten emotionally invested in have done that. Walked off into the sunset without so much as a by your leave, or have an apple. In no particular order … except the ones I miss the most and liked the best are at the bottom, I give you my lost webcomics.

Ice Cream for Breakfast was a funky comic strip by Aimee Smith that followed five roommates and their shenanigans. There were the normal tropes: Gamer girl Xan, Art boy Gatsby, fruit and nut Miranda, virgin boy Simon and Luddite Celene (also a fruit and nut). Most of the plot I remember, outside of generic roommate woes, was Simon being in love with Xan, who had a weird ex-boyfriend. I can’t remember how I found the site but it was a regular read for a while.

One day ICfB went on hiatus. It never came back and now the site is gone.

Life of Riley was another gaming comic that I mostly remember for being about roommates, gaming, and a vampire named Gore, who was Al Gore’s son. It’s weird. I thought the comic vanished, but what it was, actually, was the website got jiggered. I remember a lot of funky things about that comic and I kind of miss it sometimes. Other times not a lot.

Real life, ironically, killed Life of Riley. It happens. You can see the mirror of all the comics at Pyrocam.com -> The Life of Riley Mirror.

Waiting for Bob by Doug Sheppard and Katrin Luessenheide Salyers, was about Sean and Jean (and their friends), two platonic roomies who had a fun life. I remember how I found this one. I was reading the, now defunct, Web Review site, to learn about ASP and ColdFusion web design in 1998 or so, and there this funny side comic called Broken By Design. That linked back to Waiting for Bob. Thankfully I was able to download and save most of Broken By Design, since the whole site is gone, and that was some funny, very topic computer humor that I loved.

Bob went on hiatus in 2002, but the fact that the domain, waitingforbob.com, is still up and running always gives me hope it’ll come back.

Lem … I actually know him. He may not remember it, but at Laura’s wedding, my partner was the wedding singer (a long time ago), and he was the Bride’s Man. I have some photos of us being dinks at Dave and Busters together. Lem would probably be the first to tell you he has the attention span of a gnat. On a good day. Lem had Lethal Doses, which ‘stars’ some mutual friends and, I admit, I wish I lived closer to him so I could finagle my way into his comics. He makes me want to write comics (I can’t draw), but all I’ve ever come up with is Dilbert stuff.

Lem switched horses to Blank It (that’s funnier if you knew the last comic on LD was about trying to get on a damn horse for a year before he put up an ‘end’ comic in 2006). There was a two year lag, between LD and BI, but BI fills that hole in my heart. I still miss LD now and then. And I do agree, the iBook looked like a toilet seat!

Red Sparrow is … Okay, I admit this freely: I adore Jett Atwood. I’ve loved her since she was JG Atwood doing a Xena Parody called Battle On! (which I downloaded in it’s entirety just in case XenaFan goes away!) and in the back of my head, I still call her Jeanette. She’s right to go by Jett, much cooler. She did a parody comic called Frakking Toasters (about Battlestar Galactica), and I understand why she dropped both that and Battle On. Fandom only carries a girl so far. Anyway, Red Sparrow is her superhero comic, and just watching her art improve is worth the price of admission. The story is sweet, funny and tragic all at once.

Red Sparrow went on hiatus in 2006 and came back last year only to stop again this past summer. The art in the ‘new’ stuff is stunning and reminds me why I adore her work. She’s working on ‘real’ stuff (har har) like animation and a graphic novel. You can follow her at T.G. Studios. Jett, pick up Red Sparrow again in your ‘free time’ please!

%d bloggers like this: