Eric Burns, of Websnark fame, does an unsurprisingly good job of discussing the end of HotS. It is certainly a shame to see it come to an end, and there is a sense that many more storylines could have been explored – but the comic wrapped things up as well as could be expected, which is more than many fallen webcomics can say. Fading away into memory and the land of the Great Hiatus is no proper way to go, and HotS concluded things in the same way it did everything else – with a mix of professionalism and good humor.
I am sad to see it go, and I do hope we are able to hear the end of Branch’s story – but there are many other webcomics in the same vein, and I don’t suspect I’ll feel its absence for long.
Bang Barstal, on the other hand, will be more thoroughly missed. I won’t claim this is due to some nebulous sense of superiority, though – they are both great comics in their own way. But Bang Barstal was relatively unique in the webcomic world, embarking upon storylines that stood alone, with a “hero” whose sense of style and purpose was both original and compelling. Even the art is visually distinct, something especially felt in the last few chapters of the strip. And the ending, as sad as I was to face it, managed to finish things on an absolutely perfect note.
It is also the creation of one the William G, internet critic and webcomic rabblerouser.
I should make something clear – a few years back, I don’t believe there was a single figure involved in webcomicdom that I had a lower opinion of than William G. This was following the height of his prominence, a time when, it seemed, he was at the height of his troublemaking and attacks on the fools who dared to enjoy popular webcomics.
But you know what? Hating folks for having unpopular opinions is boring. And I came to realize most of my problems with the fellow stemmed less from what he was saying, and more from how he said it. Oh, I still disagreed on any number of topics – but I didn’t regard his presence on the internets as a personal insult. Sometimes, sure, he was still a dick – but there were also times he had genuinely insightful things to say. My view of fandom (and its dangers) isn’t nearly as extreme as his – but I’ve also come to realize a lot of things about it that I wouldn’t have without his rants.
The thing of it is, though, that even when I very thoroughly disliked William G as a person, I was still a fan of his work. That was when he was doing It’s About Girls, which was a powerful and realistic personal drama strip at a time when the web was remarkably lacking in such comics. (It’s still around today, though I am not sure for how much longer, with script still provided by Mr. G, and art done by the talented Sahsha Andrade.)
Now, I’ve done this with other comics as well – I continue to read Ctrl+Alt+Del despite the many signs that Tim Buckley is not all that nice a guy. But I’ve always felt somewhat dirty doing so, at supporting someone who really didn’t deserve it.
I never felt that with It’s About Girls, or with Bang Barstal – because they were just that good. They were strong, solid, independant strips that stood out from the crowd. They were legitimately well done works of art, and they deserved every reader they got. I couldn’t feel ashamed of reading them; I think I would have only felt ashamed had I walked away simply because I didn’t like what the man had to say. And I always felt the biggest crime of all the drama surrounding William G was that it did drive away many others who would have otherwise enjoyed his comics.
Bang Barstal has come to a very satisfactory end… and also left some possible room open for a sequel, some time down the road. Will has sworn off webcomics several times before, and returned every time – and this time even he seems to expect that one day he’ll return to the drawing board.
And I have to say, regardless of all the drama and flames and silliness that has followed in his wake… if his next work is anywhere on par with what he did with Bang Barstal, I’m looking forward to it.