Webcomics are a great and fun thing to read online, especially when updated daily. Sometimes they even reach the end of their intended course. But what happens when authors wander off, lose focus, or disappear into the underground sphere of the Internet? There’s no guarantee of completion, and some projects just don’t work out. Abandoned webcomics are a common trap in the online world.
More often than not, the projects disappear a few years later, either because their domain expires or because the artists land the comics themselves. But in a few cases, discontinued webcomics survive — in one form or another — online.
Here are some examples of abandoned webcomics, what made them so good, and some of the circumstances that orphaned them.
1. QUILTBAG BAG (2011-2012)
After concluding the phenomenal success Penny and Aggie, writer T Campbell decided to work on a comedy sequel. The comic named QUILTBAG after one of the many acronyms used by the queer community was meant to follow Sara Velte (P&A supporting character and lesbian) through college, along with her best friend, Lisa. Each chapter planned to focus on one letter of the acronym. (Queer/Questionnaire, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual/Romantic/Agender and Gay)
The comic soon ran into trouble. Penny and Aggie was originally conceived with Gisèle Lagacé, who eventually quit as artist but kept an active role in the comic. QUILTBAG, on the other hand, was written entirely by Campbell, and it shows in both the characterization and the treatment of queer issues. Campbell quickly realized he didn’t quite have the basics required for the comic, and canceled the comic two chapters later.
“…I feel like I’d be better off exploring intersex identity in a work on something other than in a 72-page chapter where it’s a major theme. (You risk defining characters by their sexuality when doing a project like this, something I’ve always tried to resist.)” – T Campbell
For his problems, however, QUILTBAG is always fun, quirky and well illustrated. It’s worth reading, especially if you know his run was cut short. And unusually for discontinued webcomics, its cancellation was deliberate — a planned, albeit hasty, ending.
2. WAYWARD SOUNDS: LEGENDS (2010-2013)
contrary to QUILTBAG, Wayward Sons: Legends (initially stray sons, then capricious legends, and now somewhere in the middle) lasted quite a while before finally disappearing. The comic is written by Benny R. Powell with illustrations by Weilin Yang, Youjun Yang, and Kun Song is a science fiction retelling of Earth myths and legends.
The end of capricious legends is surrounded by confusion. In 2013, it was announced that it would be getting a big screen adaptation, which is fat news for a webcomic. Then nothing. In 2014, the last comic page to date was published. Comments here and there mentioned that an artist had died, without being clear.
Finally, in 2017, the Wayward Sons Facebook page clarified what happened. Youjun Yang, one of the two artists, was hit by a bus in China and died very suddenly. All the other artists didn’t speak English. So the Wayward Sons team came to a halt.
“Shortly, we’re rebooting from Issue 1 titled WAYWARD LEGENDS which will soon hit comic book stores every month. This will be a specially priced comic at just $1.99 and will consist of FULLY remastered editions of the story. We’ve updated the story as well as the artwork from scratch, which (we think) makes it an even better experience.
This announcement, coupled with the three-year wait and two kickstarters that failed to deliver, left many fans unsympathetic and skeptical.
However, what is Wayward Sons… Legends…. Sons: Legends…is still up and free to read, for now. Whether or not they’re completely abandoned or just waiting for something to turn out right, the arcs as they stand are a fun superhero running through the myths of ancient Greece with a sci-fi lens. . Just – as with all abandoned webcomics – don’t expect to see more of it anytime soon.
3. BLUE OVER THERE (2010-2013)
When the rest of his superhero family goes missing, Blue Yonder – real name Jared Davenport – ends up hiding in a slum. Specifically, in the Claremont building, with a bunch of washed up capes. Some of them are alcoholics, others disgraced cops, but all have things to hide. Jared ends up hiding there while trying to figure out what happened to his family.
Blue Yonder is a dark, dark, and perfectly drawn take on the superhero genre, more focused on spies and trench coats than spandex. It has tints of The Incredibles in some parts and The Usual Suspects in others.
Unfortunately, after the comic published a page on December 17, 2013, it then disappeared from the map. The creators had promised that he would return after a hiatus:
“Yes, in some form or another, Blue Yonder will be back. We are currently working to put ‘Blue Yonder’ on Comixology. We are also planning to eventually release a miniseries about Jared Davenport in that Kid Sparrow identity. But due to unforeseen developments, we really had to extend our schedule, and I’m sorry to have left you in the dark!-AlpineBob (May 11, 2014)
Since then, it has been radio silence. Maybe comics will come back one day. In the meantime, it’s a fun tribute to superheroes and a stunning piece of art – one of the finest in the world of abandoned webcomics.
Candy by Starline X Hodge is a college soap opera drawn in anime style and four-panel stripes. It’s almost realistic with a touch of the weird, a touch of wish fulfillment, and ultimately just Amusing.
Unlike many discontinued webcomics, it took a long time before it broke down – it was discontinued in March 2016 after a 12-year run. Starline started a new comic in September 2017 and announced that not only Candy always on break; it will probably stay that way. She plans to either complete it with a text story or reboot it entirely.
Twelve years is a long time for a comic, and it’s a better fate for a comic than many of those above. Still, it’s sad not to find a proper solution to the school life of Candi, Trevor, Jess and the others.
5. NOT IN MY GARDEN! (1989-2001)
The oldest example on this list, and probably the oldest abandoned webcomic still free to read, Not in my garden! is a series of newspaper-style strips about a squirrel versus a dog. The artist, Dale Taylor, started drawing it in 1989. After several failed syndication attempts, he finally put the strip online in 1998, almost ten years later. The tape was streamed and updated on his domain, then ended abruptly in 2001 after several months of jet lag.
Not in my garden! is very strange to watch, thirty years after its conception. It is an artifact of old newspaper strips, closer to Garfield and Be fuzzy! then the webcomics above. It’s silly and fun to read for puns and silly shenanigans. The abrupt ending doesn’t matter for a gag-a-day comic in the way it otherwise might.
It’s an oft-quoted maxim that “nothing disappears from the internet.” Unfortunately, while this is true for social media, it’s not true for webcomics. You can still read these five webcomics, but dozens more have disappeared, only preserved in half-full torrents or Tumblr downloads. Some have print versions floating around the world – others have never gotten that far. Hanna is not a boy’s name, beyond reality, and RPG World are just three examples of webcomics that died out to their untimely end.
So when your favorite webcomic ends well or ships out in beautiful print, enjoy it. And send your favorite artist a friendly email or two.
Did one of your old favorites stick around, or was it subjected to the dreaded Eternal Break?