Friday, July 12, 2013

The Standard: Conclusion

So after 2 months and seven parts, we're at the end.  This ended up a lot longer than I thought.  In fact, it almost feels like an ultra deep review of Sluggy Freelance, but I guess that's a given.  The point of this was to explain why it's my standard.

Being a standard is an odd role for anything.  It's what I measure every comic by, and compare it to.  Is it as good as Sluggy?  Did it have the same mistakes or avoid them?  Will I remember it as well?  These questions aren't ever explicitly asked, but they do haunt around the back of my mind.

I hope that this series has shown the sheer breadth Sluggy Freelance has covered, both good and bad.  It's sheer age makes other comics quake in fear, but it also has seen itself toppled on more than one occasion.  Making comparisons to it is valid then, because there's always something to pick out.  Want to wipe out a bunch of extra characters?  Look to Kitten.  Want to sow the seeds of a long term mystery?  Anything with Oasis is valid.  Want to see how to completely derail a successful comic despite not being awful?  Oceans Unmoving ahoy.

And it's not bad, at all.  There is a post on the "Bad Webcomic Wiki" that asked if Sluggy should be included, and the agreement was no, it should not.  It's not bad.  Has it fallen back a step from where it was?  Sure, but maintaining such quality is hard in any medium.  But in stepping back from greatness it didn't drop straight into awfulness.  It's not Blade Kitten for god sake!

There is one thing, though, that Sluggy hasn't done, and something I can't yet compare it to other comics for yet.  It hasn't ended.  Yet.  When I started writing these, back in May, Abrams put up a news post where he basically admits that Sluggy is in it's third act.  Being Act Three generally means the last act of a play, and thus the end of Sluggy Freelance is on the horizon.  Which is another way of saying we've probably got about 5 years before we get there.

There have been times when I thought Sluggy should end, I suspect mostly during the lull period after Oceans Unmoving when the comic felt lost and without direction.  Admitting that the comic is in the last act feels liberating.  There won't be any more loose threads created now, just a lot of tying up.  We might even get answers finally to the questions of Oasis and maybe he might call back to Oceans Unmoving (one that might actually be satisfying).

Ending Sluggy would be a massive event, even as the comic's popularity has shrunk a bit.  It's one of the longest lived, actively updated comics on the internet.  It's slowly worked it's way into the culture, even crossing into other mediums.  Don't believe me?  Well, there's a book out there where a giant artillery piece is named "Bun Bun."  Yeah, this exists, and it was published.  It's memorable to the point that even people who have never read Sluggy Freelance KNOW about Sluggy.  They may not know details, but say a character name, and they know it's from Sluggy, or mention Oceans Unmoving and they know where it came from.

When it ends (not if any more, it's when) I will be there and I will be there to compare it to other comics ending.  Sluggy Freelance is my Standard for all webcomics, for good or ill, from beginning to end.  I should probably find some comics to add to the pile now, shouldn't I?

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