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Endings, and beginnings.

wiguend.png(From Wigu.)

It's a little more than an hour before the end of 2004 -- an excellent year for me and a bad year for the world, in so many ways. I won't go over the world's troubles. I'll mention a few of my own pleasures -- the surgery back in March, hard fought (and highly successful). A hundred and twenty pounds lost (quite a way to go yet, but it's an incredible start). A shift in jobs that vastly improved my world and stress. Nanowrimo. Many many many new friends. Good amounts of fiction written.

And all of you. Websnark's been vastly more successful than I had any reason to hope. I'm still stunned, and humbled, and loving every minute of it. For that, I thank all of you.

And yet, I knew this would be a bittersweet essay for me, because it's the last snark I'm doing this year, and that really means it has to be on the end of Wigu.

Jeff Rowland is the kind of guy that gives me hope. He has a gentle anarchy lurking in his brain, and he has no fear at all, it seems. A brown recluse tried its level best to take him down, but it failed. And so the man who brought us When I Grow Up and Wigu kept on keeping on.

And then, one day, with as little fanfare as he could get away with... he announced that on December 31, Wigu would be ending. His journal comic, Overcompensating, would continue, and he'd launch a new comic in mid-January, but the story of the Tinkle family would end.

And that's sad. Very, very sad. Because Wigu was nothing short of wonderful.

On paper, this was the story of young Wigu Tinkle, his imaginary friends Topato and Sheriff Pony (based on his favorite television program), his nihilist sister Paisley, his shirtless porn music impresario father Quincy, his alcoholic sex addict high powered financier mother Romy, his somewhat selfish best friend Hugo, his "romantic interest" he called Stupidetta, plus any number of monkeys, space mummies, glowing orbs, pillbugs, princesses, teachers, hot occult nurses, bigfeet, musical families and religious fanatics.

This story was whacked out. It was like reading Little Nemo in Slumberland if Windsor McCay had a mescaline habit and all the fantastic bits turned out to be real. Rowland kept it going with frenetic pacing and surprise twists -- sometimes surprising himself in the process. He wasn't afraid to decide he didn't like the direction he'd gone in, veering off suddenly and punching the strangest reset buttons known to man. Once, after Quincy and Hugo ended up facing a new archenemy on a roof, Rowland decided he didn't like the plotline, had Hugo jump off, parachuting to safety via his wide flared jeans, and summon the police. Another time, when he didn't like implying that Quincy would willingly cheat on Romy -- something Romy herself didn't have a problem with, it seems -- he pulled a sexy school nurse strip after it was posted, and replaced it with a new one that moved away from infidelity towards the occult. Another time, he essentially destroyed all of Butter Dimension3 and shifted the adventures of Topato and Sheriff Pony to Butter Dimension Quad.

Most of all, he had delight in every panel. No matter how dark the world seemed to Paisley, to all of us, it was as bright as the uniforms the cheerleading squad she found herself on wore. When Paisley experimented with drugs, it didn't lead to a tormented existence. It lead to a musical comedy about Cockfighting, where Wigu wore a costume and everything. When the kids meet a weird and frightening janitor (and Wigu tries a "hero move" that ultimately causes him to be plowed over by Topato), the janitor not only turns out to be friendly, but wealthy and eccentric. And then there was the monkey.

There were little references to When I Grow Up through it all, too. A sense of past and continuity, of outrage and delight. And always, geniality. When any given character was about to do something butt stupid, they got a delighted expression on their face just before they did it. This was a strip full of smiles.

It ended quietly, with Wigu beginning to outgrow Magical Adventures in Space (I have the Magical Adventures in Space theme and the Magical Adventures in Space: Opponent Force X theme song in iTunes and on my iPod. I'm listening to them now, in fact.) With that, Topato and Sheriff Pony move on to find someone new, Paisley continues to write and explore the depths of her despair, with signs of moving on to a Poetry phase. And we end with a vasectomy, which I think we can all agree is for the best.

It ended well, with one last adventure, including nudity and pummeling and puppies on pizza. It ended on a high note.

And that's sad, and good, all at once. I'd ask Rowland if he really wanted to end the strip, but he did it for me, over in Overcompensating:

Well, I don't know why Wigu had to end either, but I won't worry. I'll have myself a Cosmopolitan, put on some porn with some really phat sounds playing under the action, and dream of poison potatoes and their friends who crap vanilla ice cream and technically are the property of Satan.

You know, typing that is just plain fucked up.

Thanks, M. Rowland. I owe you a beer.


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Eric, by the time the 60s rolled around, Herge had come to hate Tintin with all of his heart and soul. Because, despite the fact that he was a brilliant creator, people had become so used to the idea that Herge = Tintin that none of his new ideas could find a publisher nor an audience.

I cant speak for Rowland, but I think the fear of hating your work of is one of the main motivators for finishing a comic. Some creators (like Schultz for example) can do the same thing forever and be happy, but for others it's like some twisted punishment in Hell.

You know, I've seen you give out many a tasty tastsy biscuit, but I think it's only like twice that I've witnessed you doling out the owing of a beer. Surely, this is the highest honor of them all.

Thanks, Eric! That was mighty sweet of you.

The end of Wigu reminded me of the end of Calvin & Hobbes. Nicely done.

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