Tying Up Loose Ends

The biggest moment in webcomics this week, at least among the ones I read, came as something of a surprise – not in the least because it occured in Funny Farm.

Now, one thing to understand is that not so many years ago – perhaps half a dozen years back – Funny Farm was actually a pretty big name in the webcomic crowd. This was back in the day when Keenspot stood tall and proud, the only real webcomics hub around. Other collectives were small and unnoticed, or entirely nonexistent. A handful of solitary comics stood on their own, such as Penny Arcade or PvP – but most of the other contenders were found at Keenspot. And as one of Keenspot’s top dogs, Funny Farm had a certain measure of prominence.

But… times change, and the webcomic world grew, and grew, and grew. Ryan Smith’s somewhat zany comic remained a solid strip with consistent quality… but it was now simply one of many such strips. It had it’s share of regular readers, but rarely rose to the public eye. It rarely did anything truly momentous that really stood out from all the other webcomics around.

Until now.

The strip is coming to an end. I mentioned this a few months back – but really, it deserves another mention now. Because ending a comic is a challenging task – not just taking the step and doing so, but managing to actually pull it off well.

The last time I mentioned Funny Farm revolved around the resolution of a relationship between two characters that had been building up throughout the course of the strip. Today’s post is no different. Gulius, loveable dirtbag, had long found only one character who he seemed to form a real connection with – the quiet, cold, efficient Miss Reese.

Who eventually said good-bye.

Then another character was introduced, Janice Morrow, who seemed the very opposite of Miss Reese – she was charming, lively, and constantly smiling. And somehow she also ended up getting close to Gulius.

Which makes sense, as we discover she and Miss Reese are one and the same.

I like it because it is one of the more believable disguises I’ve seen in comics – a different hair color, slightly shorter hair style, contacts instead of glasses… and a different demeanor, which is what really did the job.

More than that, though, I like how well everything seems to be coming together. As I mentioned, this revelation, at its heart, deals with the relationship between these two… but it is something happening within the development of the larger plot, the endgame of the strip.

The thing to realize about many of these webcomics which have been running for close to a decade is that they have ended up with countless plots, countless characters, countless little developments that tend to hover in the background without resolution.

And yet, somehow, Funny Farm seems to be drawing all of its loose ends together. The end is in sight, but the build-up feels smooth and natural in its progression.

For a comic with this much backstory, that is damn impressive. And it gives me the feeling that the conclusion to this comic is going to feature its greatest moments yet.


2 responses

  1. So happy to see such a nice roundup of FF. I’m trying to remember why you aren’t in my feed … I’ll amend that presently.

    You’re right about FF being solid. I may be a latecomer (2004 or 5, I think), but I’ve found it consistently good. So many threads expertly woven together. And not least character development. Almost noöne is still who they started out to be. Gulius now, but Mewn’s growing up (as pointed out at ‘Tangents’ back when I still read that) was very marked too.

    And never a missed update (almost – kinda). No whining. No incessant ‘product placement’. Seven days a week. With med-school and now full-time employment ‘on the side’.

    For as long as I’ve been reading, I’ve felt that FF was the gem that everyone seemed to ignore in the webcomics world. Very glad to see it get some recognition.

  2. Yeah, definite agreement on FF’s consistent goodness. It hits all the elements that a webcomic should have to be done right, and I’m glad to help do my part to recognize its quality!

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