Friday, October 16, 2009

Letting Go

Webcomics are a terrible habit.  I should know, I read a ton of them, but I really don't read THAT many.  See, there is a point when a comic that you've been reading for literally years just doesn't work any more, but you keep reading it anyway.  Why?  Well, let's discuss that.

I've given up a lot of comics.  Many I had to, they just don't update any more, or died, or worse, but there are more than a few that I read for quite a while and then stopped.

There are only two comics that really deserve mentioning here, though the list is quite long.  I don't regret ceasing to follow these two, but I do pine for the good old days when I cared about them, and it hurts a bit to think of how they turned me away.  They are General Protection Fault and College Roomies from Hell.

Both were amongst the first comics I read, and both were also the amongst the first to slide into the Non-Read column well after I started reading them.

GPF was the first and most rapid fall.  Don't let my review dates fool you on it, I didn't review it until January of 2003, but I had been reading it well before then.  Still, it was very, very fast fall, and I blame his great story, Serendipitous Machines.  In truth, both comics started out very similarly to the one that really started the ball rolling, Sluggy Freelance, and if any thing, GPF was much closer.  The thing is, Sluggy developed from it's daily comic roots into a full blown adventure comic very gradually.  I doubt you can point to a specific moment when it switched over.

With GPF, the change was much more radical, and happened within one story line of Serendipitous Machines, the storyline that set it up.  I don't mind changing the nature of a comic, in some cases it can have a very positive effect.  For GPF, though, it did not.  The comic, once funny and lovable, turned into a rather dark tale and then into a quasi-action comic that probably would have been fine if it had STARTED as one, but instead, the established humor characters were thrust into a new role.  It didn't suit any of them.  Sluggy's characters evolved into the people they are, GPF mutated them with green ooze.  It wasn't pleasant, and even when he tried to get back to the old roots, it just never fit again.  So I stopped reading it, and moved on to greener pastures.

Which included College Roomies from Hell.  CRfH's change actually was gradual, just as the art changed over time (go ahead and compare an early strip with a current one, and then tell me they're from the same comic), but in the end, it just didn't change in a way that kept me interested.  Like GPF it got darker, but unlike GPF, it didn't do it radically, but it still didn't fit what I wanted to see in the comic.  It wasn't like GPF where I went away disappointed in the comic, and a bit angry, but it wasn't something I really wanted to continue reading either.  Still, it took 3 years after I realized it wasn't going where I wanted it to go to finally stop reading it, a sign that I was still hoping for a turn around.

Sluggy Freelance, incidentally, has changed just as much as CRfH, and I even compared the two in the original review.  The changes in both, though, seemed very different, where CRfH drove me away, Sluggy drew me deeper in.  That's not to say there hasn't been a few times when I've wondered why I was reading Sluggy (Oceans Unmoving, anyone?), but it seems Abrams (the artist) got the same vibe and scaled it back.  CRfH, I suspect, may have done the same thing (I don't read the comic, but I do read other review sites), but I haven't felt the need to go back in quite a while.

Now these are just the earliest comics to push me away, there have been others, but I do understand how hard it is to finally drop the link from the bookmarks and move on (you should SEE my bookmark file).  So here's what you should ask yourself when you think you might want to give up on a comic:

1)  What caused you to start reading the comic in the first place?  Did the art catch your eye, or perhaps the characters?  Think hard about what force started you reading.

2)  What kept you reading all this time?  The story grab you?  Maybe you just had to see what happened next, or the sense of humor or general tone of the comic just felt right.

3)  Did either or both change for the better, or the worse?

4)  Do you think either will change back?

The last two questions should answer your question if you should give up.  Yeah, the last one is kind of loaded because some comics do come back from the brink, but you have to be honest with yourself and what you know about the artist simply through the comic itself.  You'll find the answer there, I assure you.

It's hard to give up on a comic, but sometimes you have to.  I know, I learned the hard way.

Until next time kiddies.

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