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Somewhere, out there, a Queen of Wands fan is pissed that Wannabe Wiccan Girl didn't show up today.

qowend.pngFrom Queen of Wands.

It was easier when Flint ended.

That's sad to say, because I liked Flint a lot, but let's be honest here. John Troutman has three other webcomics currently updating on a regular basis, and two of those webcomics involve the same "world." And, we know come April something new's coming from him, and it sounds like it'll involve that world too.

But Aeire's leaving us. And though we know she'll be back, there's every likelihood it'll be with something entirely new. And so there's a real sense that... well, this is goodbye.

It was easier when Flint left us, and Wigu too, because we didn't have nearly as long a buildup to the ending. I've been able to turn over and over in my head what I would write today for months -- a piquant tang of wistfulness worked into my daily comics trawl. Both Wigu and Flint just came out one day and said "hey, in a week or two that's it. Thanks." But this time? It's an event long anticipated and dreaded alike. Both methods have their charms.

But, let's put the official stamp on it. The last new Queen of Wands strip came out today. Last night, really, a hint before midnight on the East Coast.

It was a good ending. Extra long -- the lightning path twisting and forking and leading us through a collage of goodbyes and last moments. And it felt like a real life goodbye. We saw Kestrel and Angela make up in an earlier strip, but she wasn't there today. That made sense, both realistically and thematically. Realistically, Angela probably wouldn't schlep out of bed at five in the morning to help load up a truck and wave goodbye. Thematically, we end the strip as we started it, with Kestrel, Shannon and Felix.

The lightning path in the backdrop was one of evolution and dialogue, and today we saw both. While it was our three leads we saw, we also saw the two additions to the household -- baby Adrienne and drugged out drooling Zot. We had echoes of where we came from -- Kestrel bursting into Felix and Shannon's bedroom way too early in the morning to wake them up, for one (though you'll notice that where once they would have sat bolt-upright, Shannon wanting to know what was wrong and Felix mumbling something incoherent, now they barely move. They have a baby now. Early morning wakeups are just part of the fun), a breast joke, baby talk, and even the doll that Linda gave her. And even personal signs of evolution, like Felix's short, blond hair.

Queen of Wands was about a lot of things, from jokes to pain. It did something of a Cerebus Syndrome, and flirted with First and Ten, but ultimately stayed absolutely true to itself. This was a strip about learning, and growing up. Kestrel, who hated all children and got annoyed when they'd crowd around her while she was sitting in the children's section of the library or reading Highlights in the doctor's office, loved little Adrienne enough to joke when she started to cry. Kestrel, who just kind of existed, striving to have fun instead of go anywhere, is going somewhere drastic, now, heading out for a real, grown-up job in a strange city where the only person left she knows at all used to sell her stolen panties on eBay.

I suppose I should make mention of the Something Positive connection. It's been a long standing theory among the Queen of Wands and Something Positive fanbases that Kestrel will become a recurring character in Something Positive. I can't say if that will happen or not, but one thing is absolutely certain -- if she does show up, it won't be as the Queen of Wands. Milholland does a very different strip, with a very different style of humor.

And, more to the point, she'd be a minor character at the most. Anyone excitedly waiting for the adventures of Davan, Aubrey, Peejee, Jason and Kestrel better have packed a snack, because it'll be a long, long wait. If we're lucky, she'll take to drinking at the Saint James Pub, and we can have a little smile of familiarity when we see her. But I seriously doubt she'll become a major player over there. That's my theory, anyway.

There's a funny thing, though. The lightning path -- my favorite infinite canvas trick to date, because it serves to stitch together snapshots in time while dialogue (or in this case, narration) floats between -- doesn't come to an end on the last panel. It trails off, just like it has in every other strip where it's been used. Which makes sense, because the narrator (Kestrel? Aeire? Adrienne eighteen years from now? Who knows?) tells us right from the start of today's strip that things end, and new things "start all over again." We're not going to be privileged enough to follow Kestrel as she follows that path any more, but it's still going on. And that says something about life, too. When our friends move out of our immediate sphere, their stories don't end. We just stop following them.

And Aeire ended on the perfect note. A punchline. Kestrel annoyed. Life giving our red haired heroine the shaft one more time for old time's sake. A moment of sarcasm, and cynicism, right at the end of sentimentality.

That's life in a nutshell. You feel all poignant and choked up, and then something happens to hit you upside the head with the clue stick. You move on.

Next week, Aeire starts rerunning the strips with a director's commentary, seven days a week. I'm looking forward to it -- to seeing this trip from beginning to end with the perspective of having seen it once, and getting her perspective in the bargain. But as for today, Salut.

And now I've got to spend the next four hours rebuilding an XServe. See? Sentimentality, then thwacked by a cluestick.

Thanks, Aeire.


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Angela and Kestrel made up? *blinks* I guess I missed a strip. Happens... I'd missed a couple months worth a year back. :/

Heh. It's sad... I keep hoping for a last minute reprieve. Something to keep Kestrel home with her new family. But... sometimes we just move on. We leave our friends and family behind as we go elsewhere... and while they remain in our hearts and a phonecall away... in time they fade.

Nothing is eternal. Not family. Not friends. Not even the deeds we do. But life goes on... and if we cling selfishly to the past... we stop living, don't we. We stop growing.

I suppose this is what Queen of Wands is about. It is about growth, of Kestrel into a grown woman, of her friends into a father and mother, of her friends even. But mostly of Kestrel, Felix, and Shannon.

The title itself is evocative: Within the Tarot the card is described as thus: A sympathetic and understanding person. Friendly. Loving. Chaste. Practical. A person possessed of charm and grace. Capable of meaningful expression and love. Gracious hostess. Sincere interest in others. (And reversed includes Jealousy. Deceit. Unstable emotions. Fickleness. Resistance. Obstacles.) These do an excellent job of describing Kestrel, who is not perfect. She is jealous at times, she is definitely fickle... but she can be (and often is) so much the positive aspects of the card. (Makes you wonder... who would Shannon and Felix be?)

Farewell, Aeire. Until we meet again. I look forward to the commentary... and definitely look forward to your next artistic endeavour.

Robert A. Howard

I think the only thing it was missing from your analysis, was like she created a circle: When she says "Hey guys, I made pancakes," is on very low voice, quite the oposite of the first strip "HEYGUYSIMADEBREAKFASTALLBYMYSELFIT'SREALLYREALYGOOD" and them proceeds to eat the pancakes sitted on the bed. (http://www.queenofwands.net/d/20020722.html)
Such small but well-crafted nod to the very first strip is worth mentioning. It's sort the more things change the more they stay the same. I mean they have a babe now, but since the first strip they weren't really morning persons.

Also, though I can't pinpoint the exact person that said for the first time "All good things must come to a end", it's was the exact reason Neil Gaiman presented when he finished Sandman in the height of it's popularity. It's is a strange and interesting similarity. I mean Aeire set out to tell story and told the story never giving up to pressure from the fans that it shouldn't end.

At the same time the ending is quite simbolic. The strip ends literally on the middle of road: Kestrel laughing at the broken car not in any specific destination. It's nice to know that even if the strip was about learning and growing up, not is magically fixed, nor Kestrel is entire sure of what she should be, but still she didnĄt lose the good humour. It speaks volumes about hope that she ends the strip laughing.

I will really miss this strip.

And since we're on the topic of endings, Sluggy Freelance has officialy gotten on my "You Had Me But You Lost Me" list.

What caused it (Sluggy) to lose you, Meagen? Heh... I've been banned from the Sluggy Forum Boards because of my "dramatic exiting of the Boards" (ie, I dared tell Pete that his comic was unfunny and how it was unfunny and why I was no longer reading on the reaction forum board) when I suffered a YHMBYLM for Sluggy...

Of course, I've only been a fan of SF for a couple of years, so I didn't have QUITE the long-term investment some fans have had...

Robert A. Howard, aka Tangent

I thought the nod to the first strip was a beautiful touch, as well.

I was also a little teary-eyed. Thanks for your post.

It amazes me that no one I talk to seems to suspect that Kestrel's going to be brought in as a love interest.

The last few strips of S*P practically chant, "Davan needs wo-man. Woooooman!"

Kestrel's moving to a place where she knows exactly one person well. Davan, it has been mentioned, strongly resists meeting new people.

I'm not endorsing this slash or saying the parties involved would wiv happiwy ever after. And maybe Milholland's got a last-minute twist in mind. But right now the foreshadowing feels crushingly obvious.

Here's the question then: How many people would start reading S*P (if they are not already) to get more Kestrel goodness?

The problem being... it won't be Kestrel. It'll look vaguely like her and might act similar to her... but it won't be Kestrel.

See the February 24 S*P. BWAHAHAHAHA!

It amazes me that no one I talk to seems to suspect that Kestrel's going to be brought in as a love interest. [...] I'm not endorsing this slash or saying the parties involved would wiv happiwy ever after. And maybe Milholland's got a last-minute twist in mind. But right now the foreshadowing feels crushingly obvious.

And then again, T, maybe not. ;)

Oh, and an addendum: Randy does his own "lightning path" in today's S*P. Dark Knight Returns lightning.

I would've loved for the whole romance thing to happen. Even though their personality types seem patently incompatible. That would've been a HUGE moment in webcomic history, two characters from two prominent webcomics by two different creators ending up together. But anyway, maybe Kestrel will turn up as a regular, but always in a body cast or something.

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