My earlier article, Letting Go, covered when a webcomic reader should stop reading a webcomic, particularly one that they enjoyed originally. This one goes with it, as its about when the artist should stop the comic.
I imagine that this is the hardest decision any webcomic artist has to make, and I've only seen a few examples where it's explicitly stated that the artist did decide to stop the comic, often the comic just simply dies or there was a planned ending already. Still, hard as it is, often it is the best decision for the artist and the comic. So here are some questions the artist should ask themselves before ending a comic.
1) Are you making money off of it? More specifically, enough to LIVE off? If so, congratulations, you have a JOB, and you probably shouldn't give it up unless you have another JOB all lined up. So no matter what you answer for the rest of this, stopping your comic will likely be a BAD thing, especially for you. Of course, this coming from the guy who quit a job without another job lined up, but man, that job SUCKED.
2) Is the story going the way you want? I've had this happen myself, where the story gets away from you and goes somewhere I didn't want to go, or often I didn't have the skills or knowledge to make it go in that direction. To go along with this question, there is the question of whether the story is at it's natural end or not. Some comics do reach this point, like The Call of Whatever, and when that point comes, it's time to consider ending it.
3) Do you have the time to continue it? Webcomics are mostly a hobby, and if you're too busy with real work or life, then the comic should be on the list of "things to drop." This, I think, is the general cause of Death by Hiatus, and while I weep for lost comics, I understand the reason. Of course, just putting a comic on hiatus and NOT admitting to your readers (and yourself) that it might be the end is perhaps the worst thing you can do.
4) Do you still have the will to draw it? Are you still having fun? Two questions that mean the same thing, and it is the deal breaker for continuing a comic. If you can't sit down at the drawing board or wacom and draw the comic, it's probably time to give up. Without the will to continue, there really isn't one.
If you do decide to end the comic, TELL YOUR READERS. You don't HAVE to tell us the rest of the story, if you have it, but at least don't let the comic fade into nothing. Of course, there is one advantage to ending a comic: You can start another one, and I'm willing to bet your new comic will be much, much better than the previous one.
Well, that's enough for now. Until next time kiddies.