Webcomics are a great, fun thing to read online, especially when they update every day. Sometimes, they even reach the end of their planned run. But what happens when authors wander off, lose focus, or fade off into the nethersphere of the internet? There’s no guarantee of an ending, and some projects just don’t work out. Abandoned webcomics are a common trap in the online world.
More often than not, the projects vanish a few years later, either because their domain expires or because the artists take down the comic themselves. But in a few cases, the abandoned webcomics survive – in one form or another – online.
Here’s a few examples of abandoned webcomics, what made them so good, and some of the circumstances that led to them being orphaned.
1. QUILTBAG (2011-2012)
After wrapping up the phenomenally successful Penny and Aggie, writer T Campbell decided to work on a sequel comic. The comic named QUILTBAG after one of the many acronyms used by the queer community was intended to follow Sara Velte (supporting character of P&A and out lesbian) to university, along with best friend, Lisa. Each chapter planned to focus on one letter of the acronym. (Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender, and Gay)
The comic ran into issues quickly. Penny and Aggie had been designed originally with Gisèle Lagacé, who eventually stepped down as the artist but kept an active role in the comic. QUILTBAG, on the other hand, was written entirely by Campbell, and it shows both in the characterization and in the handling of queer issues. Campbell quickly realized he didn’t have quite the grounding required for the comic and canceled the comic two chapters in.
“…I feel like I’d be better off exploring intersex identity as part of a work about other things than within a 72-page chapter where that’s a major theme. (You risk defining characters by their sexuality when you do a project like this, something I’ve always tried to resist.)” – T Campbell
For its problems, though, QUILTBAG is still fun, quirky and well-illustrated. It’s worth a read, especially if you know its run was cut short. And unusually for abandoned webcomics, its cancellation was deliberate – a planned, if hasty end.
Unlike QUILTBAG, Wayward Sons: Legends (initially Wayward Sons, then Wayward Legends, and now somewhere in the middle) ran for a good long time before finally fading out. The comic is written by Benny R. Powell with art by Weilin Yang, Youjun Yang, and Kun Song is a science-fiction retelling of the myths and legends of Earth.
The end of Wayward Legends is shrouded in confusion. In 2013, there was an announcement that it would get a big screen adaptation, which is big news for a webcomic. Then, nothing. In 2014, the last comic page to this day posted. Comments here and there mentioned that an artist had died, without being clear.
Finally, in 2017, the Wayward Sons Facebook page clarified what had happened. Youjun Yang, one of the two artists, had been hit by a bus in China and died very suddenly. All the other artists spoke no English. Thus, the Wayward Sons team ground to a halt.
“Beginning shortly, we are rebooting from issue #1 retitled WAYWARD LEGENDS which will be available in comic book stores on a monthly basis shortly. This will be a specially priced comic at only $1.99 and consist of COMPLETELY remastered editions of the story. We updated the story as well as the artwork from the ground up, making for (we believe) an even better experience.”
However, what there is of Wayward Sons…Legends…. Sons: Legends… is still up and free to read, for now. Whether or not it’s completely abandoned or just waiting for something to go right, the arcs as they stand are a fun superhero romp through the myths of Ancient Greece with a sci-fi lens. Just – like with all abandoned webcomics – don’t expect to see any more of it any time soon.
When the rest of his superhero family goes missing, Blue Yonder – real name Jared Davenport – ends up hiding out in a slum. More precisely, in the Claremont apartment block, with a bunch of washed up capes. Some of them are alcoholics, others disgraced cops, but all of them have things to hide. Jared ends up hiding there while trying to figure out what happened to his family.
Blue Yonder is a dark, somber and excellently-drawn take on the superhero genre, flavored more towards spies and trenchcoats than spandex. It’s got tinges of The Incredibles in parts, and The Usual Suspects in others.
Sadly, after the comic posted a page on December 17th, 2013, it then dropped off the map. There were promises from the creators that it would return after a hiatus:
“Yes, in some shape or form, Blue Yonder will be back. We are currently making the steps to get “Blue Yonder” up on Comixology. We are also planning to eventually release a mini-series about Jared Davenport in this Kid Sparrow identity. But due to unforeseen developments, we’ve really had to lengthen our timeline, and I’m sorry we’ve kept you guys in the dark!” -AlpineBob (May 11th 2014)
Since then it’s been radio silence. Perhaps the comic will come back someday. In the meantime, it’s a fun tribute to superheroes and a stunning work of art – one of the best beautiful in the world of abandoned webcomics.
Candi by Starline X Hodge is a college soap opera drawn in animesque style and four-panel strips. It’s almost-realistic with a touch of bizarre, a touch of wish fulfillment, and ultimately just fun.
Unlike many abandoned webcomics, it was a long run before it went down – it went onto hiatus in March 2016 after a 12-year run. Starline began a new comic in September 2017 and announced that not only is Candi still on hiatus; it’ll likely remain that way. She plans to either complete it with a text story or reboot it entirely.
Twelve years is a great length of time for any comic to run, and it’s a better fate for a comic than many of those above. Still, it’s sad not to get a proper resolution to the school lives of Candi, Trevor, Jess and the rest.
The oldest example on this list, and probably the oldest abandoned webcomic still up to read to free, Not In My Backyard! is a series of newspaper-style strips about a squirrel versus a dog. The artist, Dale Taylor, initially started drawing it in 1989. After several failed syndication attempts, he ended up posting the strip online in 1998 almost ten years later. The strip ran and updated on his domain, then ended abruptly in 2001 after several months of schedule slip.
Not In My Backyard! is very odd to look at, thirty-odd years after it was conceived. It’s an artifact of old newspaper strips, more akin to Garfield and Get Fuzzy! then the above webcomics. It’s silly and fun to read for the dumb puns and shenanigans. The abrupt ending doesn’t matter for a gag-a-day comic the same way it might otherwise.
It’s an oft-quoted maxim that ‘nothing vanishes off the Internet.’ Sadly, as much as this holds true for social media, it’s not true for webcomics. You can still read these five webcomics, but dozens more have gone, only preserved in half-complete torrents or Tumblr uploads. Some have printed versions floating around the world – others never made it that far. Hanna Is Not A Boy’s Name, Beyond Reality, and RPG World is just three examples of webcomics that vanished upon their untimely ends.
So when your favorite webcomic comes to a proper end or ships out beautiful printed books – appreciate it. And send your favorite artist a friendly email or two.
Have any of your old favorites stuck around, or alternatively, been subjected to the dreaded eternal hiatus?