Friday, November 24, 2017

The Standard: Ending Not

I figured the next post of this series would be about the "end" of Sluggy Freelance.  HA!

To be clear, I am not surprised by this.  For one, it was always been clear that Sluggy 20+ would be "different" but not "over."  Secondly, there was no way Pete Abrams was EVER going to finish the mainline Sluggy story in the short time frame he had given himself.

Most of it comes from his own issues with keeping the updates rolling.  This ever present problem has kept the comic from really hitting any kind of stride and various failures (like Oceans Unmoving) can be traced back to it.  Once he started missing updates in the last year or so, I knew it would never quite make it.  It is a shame he has never managed to make a buffer of any kind to help him sort out this issue, so perhaps the new direction of the comic might help in that respect.

It didn't help that a LOT needed to be tied up in such a short amount of time.  So much to cover from Oasis to Chen, vampires and Kusari, Sasha and dig bots and I'm barely covering a fraction of everything.  And even at this point I don't think he can "finish" the story in 2 years from NOW.  Just too much to cover too fast.

So backing off, kind of, was a given.  In doing so he's given himself some room to work.  First he switched the update schedule from 5 days a week to, um, two I think.  Strips are at least twice as big, if not bigger in some aspects and there's more room for growth.

It also gave him breathing room to go ahead and keep developing characters again.  Torg and Riff aren't quite on the same page, even if they are on the same side.  Oasis is still dealing with her stuff and Sasha, is apparently a series of clones?  And Kusari!  Weird.

So some of the secrets are revealed, but not all, and the final resolution of the story is still a long way away.  Which means no "it's over" post from me.

My promise thus remains, to be there when it ends.  After a 20 year run, the comic is likely going for a couple more, at least.  While I likely won't update regularly after this year, I will be back for that ending.  Well, assuming I remember how to log into this thing.

Until then I'll be waiting.  In the mean time, I have more to talk about.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Retrospective: What Birds Know

I've been putting this off trying to finish up the Masterpiece, but it's time to get to it.

What Birds Know wrapped up in August and I only just went back and read through it again.  It's through this that I came to really appreciate it far more than I did on my first read through.

This is ONE story, start to finish, and really needs to be read that way.  Subtle hints and topics lose their meaning over the 12 year publishing span of the comic and I found myself realizing the importance of scenes at the end only after rereading the entire comic.

There is certainly a tragic nature to the comic, and as each of the main characters are given a bit of their backstory it reinforces the finale of the comic that much more.

Ultimately  Emelie Friberg and Mattias Thorelli manage to create believable characters with proper motivations for the actions that build up as the comic goes on.  There's a lot of emotion in this comic and while the story itself is strong, the characters hold it all together.

Artwise, they mention in their final blog post about doing some touch ups for a future published edition and while I suppose that's all well and good, I don't think it's necessary.  After reading through it again I think it managed to have a rather consistent art style and never really started on a bad foot.  Of course they only do say "touch ups" so maybe I'm just not as observant as they are (creators are their own worst critics I have found).

What I'm trying to say is that this is a good comic.  Definitely worth the time to read through and while I think it was probably hurt by the posting timeframe, now that it is complete the full story can and should be experienced.  I highly recommend it and look forward to the next project the pair get to, whenever it happens to be.

Next time, something else I've been meaning to talk about.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Masterpiece: The Last, Great Sprite Comic

We never did find that armor of invincibility.

8-Bit Theater ended with an anti-climatic clash, and the punchline from a joke established almost nine years earlier.  The final stab was White Mage using her connections to convince the world that the Dark Warriors, the band of boobs, were the ones to defeat Chaos, just so our "heroes" couldn't take the credit.

But that wasn't the last strip.  It was the SECOND to last strip.  The last strip came sometime afterwards, quite a bit if I remember right.  There is a reason for that of course.

The last strip is something different and very symbolic.  The reason it took so long is because, it isn't a sprite comic.  After nearly nine years, with only a few, very few, moments of non-sprite artwork in the whole of the comic, it ends without a single one.

The times had changed in that time.  For all the popularity of 8-Bit Theater, it would never, and could never, make Brian any money, because the art work wasn't his.  At one point there was a shop that had mouse pads and shirts, but that went away quickly because copyright is in full force, and these fell under it.  Ultimately the fact that 8-Bit finished it's story is remarkable since it was, at that point, more a work of passion than one of monetary value.

And really, there is only so much one can do with sprites, and Brian had done them all, possibly even inventing some.  Despite the actual ownership of the sprites, he made them into his own characters, and made their story memorable.  To the point that it became part of his resume and resulted him getting actual work in comics, including his next piece, Atomic Robo, which got a print version for a time.

The finale of 8-Bit Theater became a finale for a generation of comics as well,  It finished wrapping up the stories of the characters, showed how some jokes just don't end, and maybe, just maybe, left the door open for a sequel one day.  Maybe.

It represented the final transition between the wild west of webcomics and the beginning of the current era.  While the older strips like Penny Arcade and Sluggy Freelance might still be kicking around, the greatness of the comics had moved on and comics like 8-Bit Theater really didn't have a place to be any more.

The Last, Great Sprite Comic, that's a fine epitaph for 8-Bit Theater, but it was also a comic Masterpiece.  Nearly a decade in development, it's final page said more than just "this is the end of the comic," and drove home the point that webcomics, in whatever form, weren't just going to go away or get hid behind paywalls.  Nuklear Power, the website that hosts 8-Bit hasn't been updated in a few years now, but its still there, the forums still active.  All because of a silly comic based on video game sprites

And that's the end.  Next time, I have a lot of stuff to catch up on, hopefully I get some time to do so.  Until then kiddies.