This past week I witnessed a rare and pretty shocking event. The regular comic strip Ctrl+Alt+Del ended its current format to be rebooted in a new fashion down the road. Tim Buckley, the inspiration and artist behind this online hit which has been running near 10 years. Ctrl+Alt+Del is well known as one of the longest running Webcomic out there. His format became storyline driven which could take months to complete. But the characters of Ethan, Lilah, Lucas, and Zeke became the foundation of this world. As Tim decided to reboot his series, this was no shock. But in this event, he just ended on a “Lost” like fashion with his last strip, “Will” Where Ethan sacrifices his life to save his dimension. This resulted in thousands of e-mail and post asking Tim, “WHY” do this to us, what about everyone else, what happens to them? In the kindness of his heart, he later post the strip, “Endings…and Beginnings” Which answers what happens to everyone else. Both endings I like. One gave an “anything can happen” ending while the other gave a closure to the rest of the characters on this popular Webcomic. Still, the thought of this ending is a sad one indeed. As Tim did a great job in listening to his readership, some others either do not, or can not.
Over the past 10 years I have read a large list of Webcomic and Graphic Novels. Some have ended their run while other continues. When Sarah Ellerton ended two different Graphic Novels, Inverloch and The Phoenix Requiem, both meet with some very unhappy readers. Those who did not want these worlds, which they visited every week for years, to end. The readership that one gains is something special to the artist. Sarah knows this all too well being that she ended 2 Graphic Novels after many years in production. Most recently was Lynn Hogan of the Graphic Novel “Digger” and guest on Indeed Sketchbook, pointed out that it’s a big change just after you end something which has been a part of your life for so very long. “It really does not hit you until the next update when you realize that you no longer need to update anything.” Ongoing Graphic Novels who’s times are numbers are “Earthsong” by Crystal Yates (another indeed Sketchbook Guest), and “Dreamland” by Scott Sava, and his whole team. These Wonderful Graphic Novels whose story lines will one day, END. But this is not truly the end of the artist stories. Such as Lynn, as well as Sarah found other projects to work on. But the time and characters that they bonded with, became a part of who they were.
Now Graphic Novels are a bit different than Webcomics. As a Graphic Novel has a story to tell, and also an eventual ending, a Webcomic can continue with slight changes to people and format. Case in point with PvP. A Webcomic created and produced by Scott Kurtz. The first PvP was published on May 4, 1998 and has been a cornerstone of Webcomics for years. With some changes, as well and Character developments, you can see how a webcomic can evolve. Now ask yourself, what if Scott decided to end it? How would you feel. Many would be crushed. Many would simply not understand why? And no matter how he ended it, not everyone would be happy. With Printed Comics we felt the same with Calvin and Hobbes, Great ending, but left us wanting more. Same with Peanuts, Which was the greatest ending ever, ran 50 years until it’s end in 2000.
Not all have endings, plenty simply just stop. I point to “Oh Brother” by Bob Weber and Jay Stephans, Daily Quest by Kelly Meeks, and WoWEh? By Kelly Aarons. Either personal or professional reasons caused these loved and well-read Webcomics to end. Most understood the pain and pressure and hope one day they are able to return. But the world of Webcomics are a hobby and a finical burden to the one who creates them without or very little support. Unless you are lucky to have created a business behind them such as PvP, Least I Could Do, or Penny Arcade have done. It is extremely hard to achieve this status. Ones who have achieved this have proven to be a help to ones who are working their way up. They are sharing what it takes to make it a success if you are truly working hard to do so. Karma my friends!
As to Tim and the end of Ctrl+Alt+Del. Both endings were fine. You expressed why you did what you did and you have the readership to support your next evolution of this Webcomic. I was sad to see Ethan passing, but I felt a closure with your final strip. I know the rest of that crew goes on to live wonderful and productive lives. Even in the world of each creation, one needs an ending. Bravo Tim!