Final story strip

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Final story strip

justsomeguy
Well, it seems like they will have plenty to do in their future adventures.

One thing that I find funny is that this comic has felt very "down to earth" and "realistic", despite the dragons, magic, vampires, humorous storylines and action, etc. It also has a very interesting interplay between the "idealism" and chivalry of Toby on one hand, and the knavery of Kira and Ulf on the other. It is one of the nice parts about it that I really like (and that interplay has also been one of the major drives for the conflicts, plots and humor : -) ). That, and the characters, the storylines, the action, and especially the humor.
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Re: Final story strip

Coop
Administrator
I appreciate your insights, especially since I think they show that you have a good grasp of what I've been doing with this webcomic.  I chose to have a fantasy setting because I like that sort of thing and because I thought it would provide more comic opportunities than a realistic environment, but really, the fantasy setting is just a backdrop.  CHIVALRY AND KNAVERY has been all about the three main characters from the start, and their interactions provide the basis for much of the humor.  As I've probably stated in other forum posts, they are all strong characters in their way; they're all very competent at their chosen professions.  But their personalities are different, their values are different, and their goals are different.  Toby strives for honor; Kira strives for wealth; and Ulf just wants the sheer fun of killing monsters.  I've tried to give the main characters realistic personalities.  None of them are perfect.  Toby is naive and sometimes tries to force his views on others, like when he tried to make the pirates leave merchant ships alone and focus on Bible study.  Kira is egocentric and snappish.  Ulf is violent, he drinks too much and he has no social skills.  But they all have their good points as well, and over the years I think all three have proven to be likable as well as competent.

If I had this 12-year experience to do over again, there are at least two things I'd change.  First, I'd probably give the main characters a quest of some sort.  They never really went on a major quest; they just sort of wandered around, getting into one mini-adventure after another.  I did that because I wanted to focus on the humor.  I thought it would be funny to have them get into trouble with a king, to meet a unicorn, to sail with pirates, to fight a sarcastic dragon, and so on.  And it was funny, but in hindsight I think an overarching quest would have been a good thing to work into the story.  The other thing I'd change is that I wish I had given the main characters a nemesis of some sort, a funny villain to contend with.  But that just never occurred to me until it was too late to bother with.  And maybe comical villains are a little too commonplace anyway.  I ended up with a long, funny story about three mismatched adventurers who were forced to work together because they needed each other's skills in order to be a well-balanced adventure team.  It ended up being mostly about the relationships between the main characters.  And it was fun, so I guess I have no serious regrets.  You can always look back and see ways things could have been better, but at least it wasn't a total train wreck.

One other thing I'll mention ... CHIVALRY AND KNAVERY was a last-minute title for this webcomic.  I originally wanted to call it ADVENTURERS THREE, and was all set to launch it under that name, but then I decided I'd better do a Google search to make sure that I wasn't infringing on a copyright somewhere, and sure enough, I found out that there had been a videogame called ADVENTURERS THREE.  So I had to come up with something else.  That seems to be the theme of my experience in doing this strip; I kept lurching from one idea, and one adventure, to another.  The only constant was the focus on Toby, Kira and Ulf.  They stayed the same, at least in terms of their personalities, from the beginning to the end.  They were the heart and soul of C&K.
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Re: Final story strip

justsomeguy
Your explanation of the main focus, namely the characters, makes sense, and I can say that I find them likable myself :- ).

Regarding changing things, I think an overarching quest would have put some constraints on the story, which I think can both help and hinder. Such a quest can also be really interesting, and having a major goal or quest is also a somewhat common experience or phenomenon. They did have mini-quests here and there, getting out of trouble (this happened many times :D), defeating the witch, escaping the king's wrath, defeating the dragon, etc. That said, I believe that one frequently major issue with an overarching quest in the story for a webcomic is, I think, that it might be more difficult to change the story later on, unless care is taken. My reasoning is in part that flexibility is frequently a very good property to have regarding webcomics as a medium; webcomics take time to both write and draw, and are often stretched out over years. And if the author commits to a schedule or other parts, it may make it more difficult for them to try out other things, other art styles, other story directions, etc. And people grow and change over time; a story that is alluring at one point may become less interesting to the author. Or the author might want to change the (existing) story in some way, and that can be difficult regarding webcomics, because reworking the existing story so far will very likely involve reworking some of the art, which can be a huge amount of work. I do know of one webcomic that did something like that, both upgrading art and changing story parts of the story significantly for their first chapters, but they also had multiple artists and (I believe) authors, and even then it was an on-going project (multi-year, I think?) for them to rework the first chapters, doing it simultaneously with updating the story itself. It should be mentioned that they do have a small company focused on that webcomic, or more accurately, multiple webcomics and other media set in the same story/universe.
That said, I also recall another strip which I read a little bit of, with humor and some plot, where the story and characters changed and got older as the author changed and got older, and that worked out fairly well, I believe. I recall something about some of the characters having children and the children becoming part of the story in time. It was (is?) a very long-running strip, I believe. I guess in such a case, the audience grows older together with the story, webcomic and author. I don't recall how much flexibility the overall story had, though I think it had a considerable amount. In other cases, the overall story instead stays more or less the same, and thus the audience for the story stays the same as well, including in regards to age. This is especially the case with very long-running stories and media focused at younger audiences, I think, since the audience at a given point in time grows up to other kinds of stories in time, and new members are introduced to the story continuously.
I think overall that giving oneself leeway in various ways regarding the story and the direction and focus it takes can be a very good idea, though it may constrain a bit which stories can be told.
But I have never made a webcomic myself, and I am not at all an author, so I might very well be (very) off in some ways regarding that. The main experience I have is reading and thinking about other stories, as well as see (a lot of) webcomics that were nice in one way or another ending up stopping mid-way through, also without wrapping it up. This is typically the case for "amateur" webcomics, where they give free access to the webcomic, and either do not use advertising, or use fairly little advertising or similar. And so the authors for such cases cannot be blamed in my opinion. That said, I think the authors typically likewise would have preferred the webcomics not stopping in the middle of things (at least judging from how many of them apologized, which I did not think was right of them; life happens after all, and they gave free access to their stories and webcomics. I think it was often the case that both they and the audience were or ended up invested in the story and webcomic). They would generally have preferred that the story at least wrapped up nicely. But the story might not have allowed for that all that easily. And that is one example where I think that some leeway and flexibility can be very useful for webcomics, for instance leeway in regards to being able to wrap up the story as necessary or useful.

Well, that turned into a bit of a rant, sorry about that :- ).

Regarding a nemesis of sorts, the king did become sort of a nemesis at times. And I think you are right regarding that; an overall challenge is a common story element, and it is also a semi-common experience to have a lasting challenge, and it does have its uses as part of writing stories. But it is also somewhat frequent, as you say, to have a nemesis of sorts in stories, I believe.
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Re: Final story strip

Coop
Administrator
You're probably right that it was best for C&K to skip the overarching quest; that allowed me the flexibility to let the characters wander around to whatever new mini-adventure struck me as potentially funny, instead of forcing them onto a narrow quest path.

I have to admit that I didn't have many long-term plans for this webcomic when I started it.  For one thing, I knew that my artwork wasn't very good, so I wasn't sure I'd get many readers ... and if nobody was reading the strip, I'd have probably stopped posting it within a year.  To my surprise it got lots of readers; at one point C&K was ranked in the top 40 of all webcomics by The Webcomic List website.  With so many readers, I felt compelled to keep going and to make every attempt to improve the artwork.  But at the time the only long-term plans I had for the comic were to (a) be funny, (b) get the characters to interact with a wide variety of fantasy beings such as kings, witches, dragons, unicorns and vampires, and (c) develop a romance between Toby and Kira.  Yes, that last part, Toby and Kira falling in love, was planned from the start.  But I let it happen very slowly and gradually, so that it would flow naturally within the storyline.  The key to the romance was that Kira came to see that Toby cared deeply for her well-being; that wasn't something which had been a regular part of Kira's life, since as we eventually saw, her father was an outlaw who wasn't home much, her mother was a grouch, her sister was a floozy and of course all the humans who met her treated her like a dumb animal.  So for this stud of a lion to look after her and to shed tears when she was harmed ... well, that got her attention.  Hey, somebody actually cares about me!  And from there they were on their way to matrimony, with a few twists and turns along the way.  I thought it worked.

I strongly considered having Ulf get married at some point, but in the end I decided it would ruin him.  He's too good just the way he is.  And anyway, who would marry Ulf?  Let's be real, here.

As for webcomics that suddenly stop right in the middle of a story ... yeah, I strongly dislike that.  I decided a year ago that it was time to wrap up C&K, but I didn't want to do so in the middle of the story, so I started moving toward a conclusion.  And I'm fairly happy with the way I wrapped it up.  I considered a lot of possibilities, even some non-humorous ones.  Believe it or not, I considered having Ulf get killed, having Kira realize that she'd never fully appreciated him, and then having Ulf come back as a ghost to let everyone know that he was having a blast in the afterlife, running around in Valhalla with the Valkyries and getting into a battle every day.  But I couldn't bear to kill off Ulf.  I like him too well.  For that matter, I like all three characters.  I hope they're moving on to lots of fun adventures, even if they're doing so without me.
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Re: Final story strip

sethtriggs
It's a very satisfying conclusion indeed.

Thanks as always for the laughs, for the fun, Coop. It's a great story!
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Re: Final story strip

justsomeguy
In reply to this post by Coop
Yeah, I think you did both the romance part and the wrapping up very, very well. It is a very nice conclusion.

And like Seth says, thank you for the webcomic, it has definitely been a blast.
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Re: Final story strip

Coop
Administrator
Thanks, guys.  I'm still trying to pull together one last comic, but haven't been able to finish it yet.  After that, I'll see about creating that PDF document containing all of the strips.  Will post a forum update when I have that ready.
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Re: Final story strip

sethtriggs
Sounds great Coop and I'll keep checking back for that update!
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Re: Final story strip

justsomeguy
That bonus strip is hilarious :D.

Also, Coop, if you need any help or assistance with creating an archive, just write a comment and I will create and send you an attempt at an archive, and you can then write if it needs any modification such that I can improve it.
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Re: Final story strip

Coop
Administrator
About the bonus strip ... it didn't fit into the storyline anywhere but I had the idea for it a long, long time ago, and I couldn't bear to sign off until after I'd posted it.  It was just too perfect for Ulf.  He doesn't care how many enemies he's facing ... as long as he's going to get to fight, he's happy.  Ulf was the strip's most popular character, so he deserves to get the last laugh.

I plan to work on the PDF at first opportunity, which will probably be next weekend, but possibly sooner.  Will post here if I need assistance.
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Re: Final story strip

sethtriggs
I got a good hearty laugh out of it. Hey you don't adventure successfully if you don't know when to run too!

Well done and thanks again for the laughs Coop!
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Re: Final story strip

Coop
Administrator
I kind of hated to depict Toby running away; he's no coward.  But he DOES have common sense.  Ulf, on the other hand ...

It's been a fun experience, these 12+ years, mostly because of the great reader feedback I've received.  Now I just need to find time to work on that PDF.