« A difficult admission | Main | So, do we call his hit count "nielson ratings" now, or is that unique visitors? »

This is me in a bitchy mood.

In a day where the level of whining about who said what bad things about webcartoonists has reached absurd proportions, I am having an evening where, due to events that have nothing to do with anything, I'm not in a good mood. I'm just not. And yet, there are big things afoot in the world of Webcomics, and it was time I went back to work. So I turned to the Night Trawl, excited to talk about the inauguration of WIGU-TV, which I glanced at at work and had a moderate-sized snark in my brain about it, and I come to discover that there's some kind of major issue with the account.

Which, clearly, is not Jeff Rowland's fault. So even though I'm in a bad mood, I just kind of deal with that. And I had a sudden moment of pleasure, moving to the very next site on the trawl, because that next site is Clan Bob, and Clan Bob's been down for something in the neighborhood of a full year. It went down in the wake of the death of a friend and collaborator of the Bobs, and it stayed down after hosting and server collapses and who knows what else. For weeks now, the site has pointed to a series of quotes from many sources -- Blade Runner and Ferris Bueller's Day Off leaping to mind. There was a sense that faith would be rewarded, that stories started would be completed, that all that is Bob would be returned. And today, the all new Clan Bob returned.

Most other nights, I'd just give this a bye. Most other nights, I'd just say "well, that's life in the webcomics world." But tonight, I'm in a bitchy mood, and the Bobs are the ones to prop themselves up in the way of it. So let's do this fucking thing.

The centerpiece and most popular element of Clan Bob over the years has been a webcomic called Life of Riley. This started as a goofy little strip, and over time expanded to be an epic, surreal, sexy romp. And then became serious and far grander and depressing in places and... and....

Yeah, you know the drill by now. They went for a Cerebus Syndrome, and they landed in First and Ten. But somehow, it was still fun to read. And they created a mythology that I found compelling even if it seemed a bit ridiculous at times. And it maintained a visual quality that was considerable, and even if it was pretty damn First and Tennish, it did it as well as you could ask. And, rather than just go three day a week, they updated as often as they could, and on the alternate days they put up artwork, or a sprite comic called Dreams in Digital devoted to... well, babbling about Final Fantasy XI stuff. It showed commitment.

All in all, I liked it. Life of Riley was distinctive, and when it vanished -- in the middle not only of a climax point but a fight scene within that climax point, it was sad.

But, as I said, I had faith. We had faith. Fans got information where they could, making reference to the fact that the downtime had turned to a disappearance of the site, then getting bits of information back. And, despite the fact that it had been many months, I left it on my trawl -- a hole that didn't resolve, over and over again. And then began to resolve with quotes, with messages... we were getting closer. The commitment they'd built up all that time ago kept a certain core of fans waiting and hoping.

Faith rewarded, as I said. It finally returned.

Except, there's no Life of Riley. They decided not to revive it "yet," though it's on "indefinite hiatus," which most of the time means "we're never going to actually do this, but we're not going to declare it ended, either." They announced that they'd continue to do Dreams in Digital (apparently as animations you have to download to watch, for reasons passing understanding), but that that there would be no more Life of Riley.

Now, even that wouldn't warrant more than annoyance. Annoyance mostly born of the fact that over all these months they might have mentioned they weren't actually bringing the comic back, so that the folks who came for other Clan Bob things could anticipate and the people who came to see if the Third Stage Dan could effectively fight Lilith would know it wasn't gonna happen and move on. That's minor.

Only, coming back, the front page had the following message from William (MentantBOB) on it:

Over the past year, and several failed attempts at getting the site back up and running (for too many reasons to list here) it is with great satisfaction that the site is here for all of you to visit again. Most of you will note that the 'Life of Riley' comic is missing. We have setup an FAQ where you will find many of the answers to the questions that you are sure to be asking.

Going to that FAQ page gives you:

LOR has been around for over four years now and there is much more we want to do with the current story line. However, after ***MUCH*** deliberation it was decided that we are going to take an indefinate hiatus on the LOR project until we can dedicate the time we feel it deserves.

That's it. There's nothing else about it. Nor is there any element of appreciation for their past fans, or anything like that. It was a short paragraph that, in the world of webcomics, means "we're not officially saying it won't be back, but duh. It won't be back, sparky."

Not letting your fanbase know your comic won't be returning while they wait for your site to return was an annoyance, because it strings them out and then lets them drop. Not having your comic return, and not even putting up a decent announcement message on the front page, but instead putting a link up to a FAQ page which itself is perfunctory shows contempt for your fanbase. These are people who have patiently held on, long after the casual fans had dropped off. They believed in the storytelling that Aaron and Dan had been weaving (I have no reason to think Dan's even still affiliated with the site, though again there's no info so he might be). They believed that with enough time, they'd get the technical issues resolved and pick the story back up.

There's nothing wrong with deciding not to continue providing the free comic strip you've been giving people for all this time. But to shaft your faithful readers, fail to give an appropriate announcement, and shlep them off the front page for what amounts to a brushoff? That, as I said, is contempt. "You weren't ever that important to us" is the message that gets sent. "We're a gaming clan. Anything else was secondary, and we've cut the secondary out."

And most nights, I'd just snort, say "that's bullshit," and move on. But today I'm in a bad mood, so I'll publicly say "wow, that's total bullshit. What a crappy way to treat your fans."

And then move on, because there's no reason anyone over at Clan Bob gives a damn what I think -- Websnark didn't even exist back in the day. But when I first put my Evening Trawl together, this is what it said:

Clan Bob. This is on the list in hopes that they may yet actually update. Until it does... no snark for you. NO SNARK FOR YOU!

Well, it's 'updated.' Whoo fucking hoo.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Eric! Pull yourself together, man! I mean, listen to yourself! "On the alternate days they put up artwork, or a sprite comic called Dreams in Digital devoted to... well, babbling about Final Fantasy XI stuff. It showed commitment." This is what you're reduced to? Pathetic gratitude for sporadic Final Fantasy sprite comics?

This is not healthy, dude. You need to read better comics. You need to read comics that will treat you right. Otherwise, you're just going to remain trapped in a cycle of Bad Comics Enabling, and that doesn't just hurt you. It hurts us. Your friends.

Come on, Achewood was funny today. Ha ha! Stupid furries! It's funny 'cause it's not about me yet!

I liked Life of Riley, I remember first getting into it from ads they placed on pvp
although sometimes the fight sequences got stale after a while, the escalating ability, I have greater power, oh yeah, I have greater power, no I have a secret power.........zzzzzzzzzzz --- Monty haulism mixed with bad anime writing
but the living together, the vampire Gore and his stalker admirer succubus, and all the various intrigues were pretty cool.
So much potential left out to die

Re: WIGU TV - Jeff's put the comic up on the forums, in this thread here,
so you can snark away if you like.

The Achewood forum's all steeling itself for drama that isn't happening there yet. Dude.

Shaenon -- DiD doesn't begin to be enough reason to read that thing. ;)

But I liked Life of Riley, First and Ten and all. Go fig. ;)

Frustrating, isn't it?

To me, LoR's death is made even more frustrating because there are 3 strips posted in the archive that I hadn't gotten to see before it went down...and now it's just in the 2nd worst possible sport for a cliffhanger that I could think of.

The lack of any "classic" art from Dan Jaaren or some of the other regular artists (Manda and Cowkitty in particular) definently makes me wonder if there was a falling out between the writers and the drawing-types. Very sad buisness, really.

Incidentally, WIGU TV appears to be up now.




damn. Now I'm in a less-than-pleasant mood. I *liked* Life of Riley. It was fun, funny, and even when it went overtly dramatic it still managed to keep some humor in it. Even if Gore was missing (what, did his little Succubus girlfriend tie him up again? *chuckle*)

Makes me feel guilty too. Now I know a little more what the tiny group of fans felt when I discontinued Tangents. (Except that I *do* intend on bringing it back... at least to the point I've been mapping out the story again, and want to get a backlog of strips started before I go about and ressurrect the site...)

Oh well. There are other comics out there. Hey, Nukees was cute tonight? And Narbonic always rocks, no? Just dwell on the good, and forget about posers who don't think highly enough of their fans to finish their story. (Well, except for me... *shiftyeyes* *chuckle*)

Robert A. Howard

Perhaps this might pick up the mood 'round here a tad... I have never seen this comic mentioned here, but I've grown to quite enjoy it. Wapsi Square is a light, cute, funny/romance comic which has been subtly building for some time toward a Cerebus Transformation. And I'll be damned if it didn't sink its hooks in me deep when that... thing... came slithering down the hall toward the weeping Monica. The art is like nothing else out there either. Just try it. I can't wait to find out what happens.

Well, Wapsi Square got mentioned here, in a "recommend comics for me to check out" trawl. I'll ditto your current recommendation, FWIW: It's currently sitting right near the "sweet spot" of my daily trawl, between Queen of Wands and The Devil's Panties.

By the way, speaking of sporadic updates, does anyone know what's up with Dave Kelly? By my calculations, he used to account for something like 73% of the entire comics output of Keenspot; but Lizard ended, and now he's only updated Purple Pussy once or twice (admittedly, the most recent update was one giant two-week long splurge) in the last several months.

Long time reader, first time commentator. I love this site.

I've been reading the archives of Life of Riley. I find it vaguely karmic that some early strips (any one with Celdih) are crossovers with Avalon, a strip that notoriously went into prolonged limbo before finally ending prematurely.

Life of Riley was the first web comic I started reading and I started with episode #2.. so I think I can call myself a "long time fan" ^_^;

I'm not pissed off with LoR if their plan really is "Dan just graduated school and is supporting his wife while she goes through law school [or whatever] and will return to the wonderful world of art after he's back to his usual 2 hours of sleep every 30." If the hiatus is really a hiatus while everything gets back on it's feet - I am fine with it.

However, if it is as you predict and it's going the way of the Dodo- oh yeah I'll be cranky! But at this point, I'm going to believe they have the best of intentions. LoR has had hiatus before and come back better than ever.


First time posting here...

You think this is frustrating for you, Eric? I know the Bobs personally. I was invited to a few parties they've thrown. Know the characters Evil Dan and Electryk Pyxie? That's my brother-in-law and sister (well, former brother-in-law, but we still get along). I *knew* those people, and it was neat to point and say "I know those guys."

I've no idea what Little Dan (Dan Jaaren to those who don't know him) is up to now, but I think he's due for some noogies for this. I'll just end this with a frustrated sigh.

The said thing about LoR is I still have faith. I still have the faith to say. "Maybe". I guess I waited 8 months for Clan Bob to come back anyhow, whats a few more gonna hurt? Why not wait another year? Maybe two?

Yeah, its sad, but Clan Bob will probably stay in my list, and I'll check it every day waiting and yearning for confirmation of either "Its back!" or an outright "Fuck you!!! Ahahahahah!!"

I liked LoR, especially for the variety of plot lines. I don't recall if they were the people who originally pointed me to Michael B's work, but that connection helped endear them to me.

I'd be all ticked and indignant if this sort of thing hadn't happened to dozens of other decent and semi-decent webcomics before now.

If I ever hear it's come back, I'll probably go back to reading it, since they haven't made a career out of dumping comics in the middle of a story, like some other artists, but this is a big ding in their integrity account with me.

I won't be checking back on it myself on any sort of regular basis. There's way too much other stuff to read out there.


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)