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Lame endings for web comics [Jan. 8th, 2009|09:51 am]
Hi all,

This is a topic that I E-mailed to my self, intending to save it for the weekend. However we've had a heatwave in New South Wales (poor Batty must be cooked out there in the west) and I'm trying to cheer myself up. The weather has finally cooled down today, and I just need to boost my spirits in order to survive the next few hours in the office.

2008 has been a year in which several long-running web comics have ended, or have been announced as ending. On the one hand I can see an author (DC Simpson) who spent much time working to achieve an ending worthy of the reputation that the comic has earned over the years, while elsewhere I can think of at least THREE where the endings were IMHO rather lame; insubstantial and lacking a proper sense of closure, or just cut short. Not naming any names, but one of these three web comics was linked to the Cross Time Café (the origin of a certain character).

(FYI - for my own web comic, I'd like the story to continue even after I die… or become too infirm or senile to continue writing. I can only hope I'll find people with the talent and devotion to continue my work).

Now being an especially story-driven reader and writer, I'm keen to hear opinions on the matter of how important everyone regards endings to web comics. One humble request: if you provide examples please only mention the name(s) of either the web comic or author for the positive comments. For negative comments just hint at which web comic is concerned.

Q1: How much do you appreciate when a web comic author properly ties up all the loose ends in a comic? (Personally I regard killing off characters as a very lazy means to this end).

Q2: Do you prefer comics where the author gives a clear impression that there would be an "off camera" continuity for the comic? (A good example is Calvin & Hobbes).

Q3: How much do you enjoy grand and awe-inspiring endings to a web comic?

Q4: If an author gave an abrupt or dissatisfying ending to a web comic in order to commence a whole new comic, would this make you less likely to begin reading the replacement comic?

Q5: Does receiving a non-ending to a web comic make you feel that the author has been disloyal or disrespectful to their audience? (Unplanned ending, deliberately ambiguous, non-canon ending, recursive, plagiarised etc).

[User Picture]From: dhlawrence
2009-01-08 12:38 am (UTC)
I'm never left satisfied with a webcomic's ending. I always want it to keep going. Sometimes it's better to put it out of its misery when the artist has just simply lost interest and doesn't put as much effort in--like the one where a third of the archive is recaptioned comics from the archives.
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-08 01:48 am (UTC)
LOL - well put! I certainly agree that a comic should be put out of its misery when the author(s) are no longer willing or able to maintain the standards, format or continuity. Frankly I venture my opinion that this applies to the Doctor Who series as well; it was better left to the memory than to "revive" it as this series which bears no resemblence whatsoever to the original (foxaroo digressing as usual :P)

There have been some web comics for which I'm very satisfied and impressed with the ending. Ozy and Millie gets my approval, and so too did the ending for Fur Will Fly which was grand and splendid, although in the case of both the notion of a wedding ending is lacking some originality.
(I'm very, very tired at the moment and can't recall which other web comics have ended recently).
FWF ended with a line-up of the cast, which is something that I believe should have been the way to doe for for a certain other web comic that ended just recently.

How does everyone feel though, where little or no attempt has been made for the ending? There's one particular web comic I have in mind where just before it completely went to hell, a number of uninspiring fillier episodes were bound into the strip, indicating that the author had simply lost interest. Then the plug was simply pulled. To me it's like the author thumbing their nose at the audience.
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[User Picture]From: secoh
2009-01-08 09:03 am (UTC)
Good ending


Bad ending

:( I want them both to come back.
And polymer city chronicles.
And Hellbound.
And Good Cheese
and a host of others that either went into stasis or just vanished :(
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[User Picture]From: dhlawrence
2009-01-09 03:42 am (UTC)
I want Good Cheese back too! Lousy name, but a great comic. Plus the male lead resembles my fursona slightly, despite the difference in species (bobcat vs housecat).
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[User Picture]From: secoh
2009-01-09 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah there was a great depth to all the characters which is what made the story so entertaining. I have to say I enjoyed GC more than Rosa, though I follow that too.
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-10 12:22 pm (UTC)
That would be the character who lent out his camera? If that's correct I've only just reached that point in the comic, and I'm all the more keen to continue reading now. :)
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[User Picture]From: dhlawrence
2009-01-10 04:53 pm (UTC)
Yep, Gunther. I find that the facial profile is similar to my fursona's. Plus he's very shy, especially around women--another thing we have in common!
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-09 10:11 pm (UTC)
Oooh! :)

Well that cheered me up quick! I didn't expect to be rewarded with the links to comic archives. :)

I'll be giving Good Cheese a look - I had no idea that the author of Roza and the Horse Prince had previously produced an anthromorphic web comic. I've viewed the first 8 episodes. A little slow moving, but the illustrations are amazing, and that final episode is very grand indeed. Marvelous drawing (though it hardly stands out because all the other drawings appear to be just as good).

I wouldn't get any hopes up on HB. From what I could gather Eric had well and truly given up on it. If the CTC artists want to encourage him they might try keeping Ky more in line with the character Eric originally created, but then again I'm under the impression he was annoyed at how popular Kyota was in comparrison with his other characters...
...and too bad! I like Kyota best myself :D
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[User Picture]From: secoh
2009-01-10 04:34 am (UTC)
Yeah well the vocal fans are usually interested int he obvious - promiscuous personality in a character with big knockers and not much clothes. Pretty standard formula.

Those of us that enjoy the story, characters and character interaction are usually less vocal so it would give the impression that only the promiscuous type character was the popular one.
HB was great, I loved the humour and the banter and the story.

To end the strip on the premise that only one character is popular is a misconception. A real shame for such an awesome comic.
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-10 11:48 am (UTC)
Did you join in the eyeskream forum (where the HB forum was situated) ?
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[User Picture]From: secoh
2009-01-10 12:25 pm (UTC)
no, I never did. I was on so many forums already...
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-10 12:37 pm (UTC)
There were continual exchanges between Eric and the Kyota fans. I recall one such conversation:
Kyota Fan: "Too.. much... Baxter... must have Kyota."
Eric: "It's talk like that that makes me want to write Kyota out altogether."

That kind of thing was going on all the time.
Personally I didn't find ANY of the other HB characters at all interesting. By a phenomenal co-incidence, it was my work colleague Groveffex who drew my attention to HB, when the April Fools episode appeared, as he (like myself) adored the illustration of (what would later become) Ky. All of this taking place long before the connection developed to the CTC.

Now get some sleep! I can see Pony has been a bad influence on a lot of us (including me - [yawns and stretches]!)
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[User Picture]From: secoh
2009-01-11 10:46 am (UTC)
Yeah the CTC kinda ran wild with Kyota. The halloween comic was a beauty but it was a shame to see every future reference of her in that way. Really ripped up the HB cannon.

I really enjoyed all the characters, each was a foil for someone else in the group.

I can't even remember why I was up so late lol
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[User Picture]From: deckardcanine
2009-01-08 04:20 pm (UTC)
1. Well, it depends on the loose ends. O&M had some factors vaguely unresolved, in the sense that things could go further (Avery and Felicia could reach kissing terms, for example), but I don't feel like we were left hanging. You're right that killing is usually lazy; it's also downright rude to readers who actually care. (Sentencing the protagonists of "Seinfeld" to a year in prison was only slightly better.)

2. I don't have a strong preference. The ending of "Opus" was pretty sweet, and it gave the impression there's nothing more worth seeing of the title character. C&H was fine because it managed a note that sounded conclusive as well as continuous. I might prefer endings that look like the beginning of a new chapter, tho without a cliffhanger. What I certainly don't like are endings that look like just another installment, as if the author lost so much interested he couldn't be bothered with a real ending. (TV shows usually do this, but I don't mind that as much when they're not sagas, because I don't feel a need to watch every episode in order.)

3. I'm not sure I've ever seen a grand or awe-inspiring ending to any comic, online or off. The closest I can think of is the uniquely paired final cartoons of "The Far Side," in which Gary Larson appears waking from a dream a la Dorothy Gale. If you mean that it culminates in a huge spectacle, well, that could be taken as a declaration that it's jumped the shark anyway.

4. That may depend on how I myself was feeling about the ending comic as well as the starting comic. When RHJunior dropped "Hard Onions" to make way for "Fellowship of Heroes," nobody really minded; nor does anyone now, for FoH is more fun than HO ever was. But if D.C. Simpson had completely ended O&M in the middle of, say, the March storyline, I might avoid her next project out of contempt, as well as doubt that she really cared about that one either. Care means a lot to me, even in farcical contexts.

5. I try not to feel betrayed when that happens. The comic is a part of the cartoonist's life more than anyone else's. They put a lot into it and usually get little in return besides the satisfaction of having made it. They should be free to stop at any moment with as little effort as they please. More effort is just a bonus for the readers. But plagiarism is very bad in any context.

I'm more concerned about when a comic "ends" briefly and then returns with the same title and characters but a different mood. "Newshounds" and "Zortic" come to mind. I came looking for antics, not a soap opera.
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-09 10:19 pm (UTC)
Aha! A fully-worded response to my LJ entry! :) This deserves a meaningful reply. I'm getting ready to leave for Fox Valley just at the mo. I'll reply in full when I return this afternoon. SJC
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-10 12:18 pm (UTC)
1. It did indeed seem that Avery and Felicia were heading into a story arc, which abruptly vanished. For myself I found that the spotlight became narrowed on the main characters. Felicia was there toward the end, but in a story arc focussing on her (failed) intention to make herself popular in the goth culture. Avery and Tumulty made only rare appearances, Stephan made one last cameo after a long absence, and Jeremy appears to have vanished altogether. Certainly we (the audience) are left with the desire to see further opportunities explored for the characters, but I don't think there are any especially glaring loose ends flapping in the breeze (the weather is unusually pleasant right now and I'm in metaphor mode :) ).

2. Opus I've seen mentioned here and there, but I never actually read any of his stories. After your post I looked him up in Wiki and read the ending to his tale. Sounds rather sureal and wierd to me. With regard to the other comments you've made for Q2, I couldn't agree more.

3. To clarify "grand" or "awe inspiring." If the author has taken time to draw an especially good illustration for the ending episodes I would label that "grand." Best example to hand are the cast line-ups in Fur Will Fly. If the author has gone beyond that to produce an outstanding illustration, and/or finished up with a particularly thought-provoking story, I'd describe that as "awe inspiring." O&M's ending I would merely describe as "comfortable." Unfortunately at present I don't have any prime examples of an awe inspiring ending. My brother has my entire collection of comics from the 70's and 80's (I can only hope...)

4. Yes, I'm in accordance with that as well.

5. When I view a web comic I try to take into account what I know about the comic (albeit some of it psychoanalysis guess work). If it's quite clear that they are making an effort in spite of their lack of training or natural talent then I'll grant them that if they're unable to provide their audience with a big send-off. If on the other hand they've demonstrated ample talent, and had maintained regular updates for a good length of time, then to me they have no excuse for an abrupt ending unless they state on their forum, or in the comic itself, that a change in their personal life has brought about the abrupt ending. I know Mark Stanley's family has endured some misfortunes in recent years and I find it incredible that he's rarely been even late with an episode. If Freefall were to go into an unnanounced hiatus I would automatically know there's a perfectly good reason, and I wouldn't feel betrayed about it.

Continuing Q5, authors of web comics have different reasons for creating them. For some it's merely to show off, others are about telling a story. The former receive their rewards in the form of positive feedback from their audience, and if they abandon their audience by cutting the comic short then I regard that as betrayal.

Lastly, yes I agree that it's not good form to radically alter the format of a comic merely because the author's tastes have changed. It's worse still when a comic is shared between artists and one hijacks the comic.
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[User Picture]From: carlfoxmarten
2009-01-09 04:11 am (UTC)
I don't know if you read Schlock Mercenary, but quite a while ago, the cartoonist mentioned the fact that he had about eight months' worth of strips and over a year's worth of story written, so that if/when he goes, his successor will have lots of time to get up to speed on his writing and drawing styles.

Personally, there are many stories that cartoonists start that get so interesting and involving that you can help but want them to continue forever!

However, there are some that seem to lose steam over time (such as story arcs getting shorter and shorter with increasing amounts of one-off jokes) that just aren't worth reading anymore...
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-10 12:30 pm (UTC)
Hiya! I haven't read Schlock Mercenary, but I think I have an idea what you mean. With regard to wanting them to continue forever, I *REALLY* know what you mean.

carlfoxmarten said:"However, there are some that seem to lose steam over time (such as story arcs getting shorter and shorter with increasing amounts of one-off jokes) that just aren't worth reading anymore...",
Yes... I couldn't agree more... and I wonder if we're both thinking the same specific comic. If we are, I recall saying mid last year that I hoped it would continue. Well I take that back now... it has utterly degenerated into a rambling, disjointed and meaningless residue of its former glory, and to quote DHLawrence I think it should be put out of its misery. I don't think there's any chance for a grand or awe inspiring ending either; it's too far gone...
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[User Picture]From: carlfoxmarten
2009-01-13 01:36 am (UTC)
If you want to put this through an ASCII converter: 0x4B, 0x26, 0x4B
But I don't think we're thinking about the same comic...
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[User Picture]From: thefoxaroo
2009-01-13 11:09 am (UTC)
ROFLOL! Clever tool for conveying the message :D Nice to be able to use my old IT skills for the first time in about 10 years.

You're right; we weren't talking about the same comic. I never got into that one anyhow. To me it seemed like an endless series of gags alternating between preditation and jokes about online forums. Also the characters lacked the type of substance that attracts my attention.
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