WoB Talk

July 23, 2012

The Future of West of Bathurst

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 1:22 am

This is not going to be an easy post for me to write.  I have been aware for a while that this moment has been coming, but I’m still rather in denial about it.  I know that West of Bathurst may not be the Internet’s most popular comic, but it’s kind of my baby, and I very much enjoy creating it.  Oh, look, I’m crying already.

This is more or less an announcement that the comic, in its current incarnation, probably has about a year left to go.  I’m including all those “more or less”es and “current incarnation”s and “probably”s because I’m not entirely certain how long the GRIPPING CONCLUSION is going to take to write.  The rough plan is for everything to come to a close around and about the fall of 2013, near the point at which the new term begins.  I like it when stories go around in circles, you see.

I’ve always thought of seven years as being the natural length of WoB.  It’s basically a fairy tale, after all (not a Disney fairy tale but a girl-goes-out-into-the-world-to-confront-monsters fairy tale, albeit in a somewhat unexpected form and with the monsters not quite where you think they are).  Every once in a while, I’ve rebelled against this natural length.  Why not have a ten-year comic?  What’s wrong with continuing indefinitely?  But one characteristic of WoB that sometimes attracts readers, sometimes repels them, and sometimes maddens them with helpless rage is that it is a story.  Despite its newspaper-comic-y form, it isn’t really a gag-a-day comic except in the sense that there is, in fact, a gag a day.  It’s just that all the gags are sort of joined together into this monstrously huge storyline that goes on and on and on like Lost or Battlestar Galactica, and it’s still not entirely clear whether the Cylons do have a plan.  And since monstrously huge storylines are still storylines, the impetus is always towards some kind of an ending.  This does sometimes cause problems, as it did with, oh, let’s say Lost and Battlestar Galactica.

At any rate, WoB is going to have to end.  I don’t really want it to, but it wants to.  Like the characters of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, WoB is figuratively screaming, “Get on with it!”  I do kind of see its point.  I’ll therefore attempt to get on with it as best I can, on the understanding that the story will most definitely be ending.

After that…who knows?  I can’t give up comics, so there will be some other project.  My friend House has made a suggestion I like at least as a transitional project to get me through what is, for me, probably going to be quite an extensive grieving period.  House has pointed out that there are many WoB-related gaps that can be filled in in a series of shorter graphic stories.  Characters such as Weird Beard, Kenneth the Porter, Sara, Steve, Basil, Morgan, and Ursula are crying out for their own stories.  Periods of time have been skipped.  And who knows what Evil Marie gets up to on her own when Marie isn’t around?  Maybe even poor neglected Fred will finally get his due.  (If you do not know who Fred is, that’s because he hasn’t really had anything to do since the first couple of weeks of the comic.  He was originally meant to be a major character, but Rahim, who wasn’t, shunted him aside.)

I’ll have to figure all that out over the course of the next year and a bit.  Until then, it’s worth saying that I really appreciate you guys sticking with me all this time.  I know I’ve lost a lot of readers (while gaining some new ones), but that’s how webcomics go.

Tomorrow is West of Bathurst‘s sixth birthday, so stop by for an extra comic panel, a giveaway, and possibly some unnecessary snivelling on my part.  Try not to be distracted by the shiny object.

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15 Comments »

  1. No! I’ll miss this comic 😦

    Comment by Blackwolf3 — July 23, 2012 @ 4:28 am

  2. Well, there’s still over a year to go. And after that, there will probably be little related stories. It’s just that no story can last forever without dwindling to a shadow of its former self.

    Comment by Kari Maaren (@angrykem) — July 23, 2012 @ 4:33 am

  3. I know it’s hard. I can’t really think of anything to say, other than to point out that it probably is, in fact, the right call, even if it’s really frickin hard to make. The story goes where the story goes, and stories end. It’s not something we always like, but it’s true.

    There’s also an angle that I try to be more aware of, so that, at a minimum, I don’t complain when artists I like make that difficult choice. The angle is that, well, sometimes it’s better to move on. Sometimes it’s better to go out in a blaze of glory than it is to stick around for as long as possible. I would say usually so, in fact. I doubt we’d think of Calvin and Hobbes half as fondly as we do if it were still running. My personal feeling is that although an individuals creativity may well be bottomless, it has definite limits on what it can do with a certain setting. Sooner or later you just run out of juice, and you have to do something else to get more. I mean, it’s the same author, and the same setting, but the spark that made it what it was in the first place is gone.

    In short, I think it’s the right choice. I can’t say that I’m happy about it, but I do think that it’s the right choice. Reluctant though I am to think that. Dammit, Himsa, why couldn’t you do just one more album? WHY?

    (Himsa is a band that I really like that broke up because they decided that they had achieved what they set out to achieve, and also because they were sick of touring. I mean, I understand that decision, but dammit, that last album was really frickin awesome.)

    Comment by erwaro — July 23, 2012 @ 5:02 am

  4. I was expecting this – there were hints in the story that things were coming to a head. Casey coming back without memories and completely at marie’s mercy? Then being back to his old tricks, but this time, just stays with Marie during her yearly catatonic state? Hints and portents, it’s not the same, and when cycles like that in stories are broken, it means resolution of some kind is at hand. With this group, it just takes about a year.

    It sounds like your brain is ready to GOWI as well, itching for new stories and that old spark to strike. I hope to be here to see it happen!

    Comment by Niall — July 23, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  5. I’ve been following the comic for the past five years or so, since my freshman year. Now I’m entering a PhD program and I feel like WoB has been my companion through the woes and wonders of life in academe. There really is nothing else like it, and I will be sad to see it go. But if you love something…set it free and hope that it’s author keeps updating her other academy-related website? 😉

    Comment by Annael — July 24, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  6. I wub WoB, but I’m actually pleased you have an endgame in mind. No comic actually goes on forever, so a proper conclusion is the best way for it to finish; far too many webcomics just go on ‘indefinite hiatus’ at some random point in the middle of the story, leaving everything up in the air. We will miss Marie, Casey and all the others, but I’m sure we’ll get over them once you move onto the next project 🙂

    Comment by Incompetent — July 25, 2012 @ 6:08 am

  7. I too will miss WoB but agree that it’s the right though hard decision. Continuing stories on past their natural lifespan just kills them in a much less enjoyable way and tends to spoil them forever. It must be hard though! Have some chocolate ice cream and best wishes.

    Comment by beckles — July 25, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

  8. Thanks for all the kind words, guys. I don’t deal particularly well with change, but at the same time, I hate to see comics dwindle away to shells with nothing of substance inside. I’ve seen too many comics go out that way. We’ll just have to make this as mysterious and maddening a year as possible and hope that Marie doesn’t strangle Casey before the conclusion.

    Comment by Kari Maaren (@angrykem) — July 26, 2012 @ 3:40 am

  9. Well, I console myself with
    1) There will be a conclusion! *
    2) Extra material! **
    3) Maybe inspiration will strike and Kari moves on to a new project? ***

    * All will be made clear, everything explained, and no mysteries left to our imagination. The girl gets her dream prince, and they live happily ever after! ****
    ** A trilogy in which Barbara, Rahim, and Marie go to Tentaclonia to rescue Casey, who has been imprisoned after losing a high-stakes bet. *****
    *** Otherwise she’ll have too few ways to procrastinate, right?
    **** I don’t actually expect (nor hope) that will happen.
    ***** Well, I’m seriously anticipating the extra stuff Kari announced she might perhaps do.

    Comment by fan — July 26, 2012 @ 10:25 am

  10. I’m sad to hear that, but I think having an ending is a good thing. One of the reasons why Fullmetal Alchemist is one of my favorite shows is that it was neatly plotted, and it ended, instead of dragging on without a point. May you have the Fullmetal Alchemist of comics, and thank you for your labor of love.

    Comment by Earthgirl — July 28, 2012 @ 1:58 am

  11. I hope it’s not my fault. 😦

    Comment by Errol — November 28, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  12. Errol: Er…because of…time travel? I’m ending the comic so that it doesn’t turn into Hagar the Horrible. And yes, it still makes me really, really sad.

    Comment by wobtalk — November 28, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  13. I’m sorry to see the strip end, but at the same time, I’m really enjoying what you are doing with this storyline, and I like that there will be a conclusion in the end. And then, I look forward to what you do next. I understand that sometimes you just need to move on to the next thing.

    Comment by Tony — February 6, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

  14. I agree that giving this story a gripping conclusion is a good and necessary ending. But I will miss WEST OF BATHURST. I’m in my sixties, but when I read it, somehow I feel, for just a few moments, like a college student again. That is a strange and wonderful thing. Thank you, Kari.

    Comment by Anne — August 28, 2013 @ 12:40 am

  15. Thanks, Anne. I’ll miss it too. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the comic; thanks for letting me know.

    Comment by Kari Maaren — August 28, 2013 @ 12:42 am


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