Mark Shallow’s ADVENTURERS! may be the longest-running console RPG comic on the interweb, and it is coming to an end.
This… probably isn’t news to anyone. Anywhere.
See, it has been coming to an end for some… oh, two and a half years now. Webrunner announced in February, 2003, that the strip would be coming to an ending. At the time, he did state that the ending wasn’t right around the corner, but I don’t imagine he realized how long it would truly take to bring things to the story’s appropriate conclusion.
Now, I’m quite the fan of the strip. It is an extreme example of a strip with rather humble beginnings that has matured and developed into something very impressive. And while some of the jokes it makes about RPGs have become cliche over time, that is in part due to its own use of them.
The ending of the strip has dragged on a bit, I think it is safe to say. Not to the extent that it isn’t worth reading, or doesn’t still hit some good notes – but I think the length of the ending has cost the strip something.
When I first learned the strip was coming to an end, it starts a process of… resignation, I suppose. Detachment. Embracing the end, and accepting that this is one story that will be wrapping up.
But when the story did not wrap up… it merely meant that I lost some level of investment in the tale. I think it finally is winding down to a close –
Webrunner has temporarily closed production of his other strip, Antihero for Hire (a great strip, by the by, and one that shows lessons learned from his first comic – it is a much stronger, much tighter story.) He has moved to fully updating just Adventurers until it is complete, which certainly implies to me that it won’t be long now.
But while I’ll enjoy the conclusions and seeing what happens to all the characters, in a lot of ways, Adventurers already has ended for me. I went through the mourning process already, as it were. So no matter how much the finale might dazzle and amaze me – there will be something personal missing from it.
Now, I’m not sure what could have been done to avoid this. I am rather confident the length of the ending was unintended. The fact that the final battle took a year and a half to conclude, and the ending sequence itself has been running for seven months… well, sometimes the story has its own demands. But somewhere along the way, amidst the long, drawn out, eternal ending… something was lost.
I suspect Webrunner is as aware of this as any fan. As I mentioned above, his other comic Antihero for Hire is a much more well-crafted strip. I’m not even 100% sure on what the lesson is – I certainly don’t believe that it is requisite for one to plot out the entirety of their strip before embarking upon it.
But while one might not need the strip to be fully fleshed out in advance, I think that an awareness of pacing is a skill that is very easy to pass by when one is starting out. Each strip can remain as golden as the one before it – but it is all too easy to be four-hundred strips later, and have a reader who has lost interest in the comic without even noticing.
In any case, let’s see that ending, Mr. Webrunner. It might be too late to have the fullest impact, but I’m sure it will still do the strip proud.