Thursday, March 05, 2015

On continuity

As I finish up this weird final Bobbins story,  I've repeatedly asked myself, "what am I doing?" After 16 years and counting of the same continuity, the greatest difficulty I have is making my work approachable to new readers while retaining the old ones. As a comic book reader in my youth, comics leant heavily on continuity, but I never remember it being a huge problem. If someone or something reappeared, it was never a huge mental leap to accommodate the new reality of this returning figure/recurrent situation.

But I don't have the luxuries that the creators of an issue of Alpha Flight from 1988 had. I don't have an editor to straighten things out. I have a fallible human memory of nearly 5000 pages of comics, with no master document detailing the relationships between various characters. There's no wiki to keep things straight. Frequently, I can't remember minor characters' names at all. The greatest danger is to dredge up something tempting from 2001, because I am the last person who should be allowed to curate his own history

Bringing back Bobbins was one of the most fundamentally idiotic things I have ever done and worst of all, I did it because the idea was funny to me. I was talking to my friend Jeremy one afternoon about Bobbins, and the following evening, the slogan "Bobbins is back" sprang to mind. I thought this was hilarious, and drew the original characters' faces in my sketchbook. Within a couple of weeks, I'd done the first strip that appears as part of The Case Of The Forked Road. I loved doing that little story, about how Ryan meets Amy, but I have a feeling that if you were to check it against the original Bobbins comics, there are some... fairly problematic interactions in there. I'm not sure how the project persisted past that original point. The revival has now been going on for half as long as the original comic ran.

With Bad Machinery done, and Expecting To Fly (a Bobbins prequel that also includes its fair share of misremembered/fudged history) complete, I thought I'd do some Bobbins comics to fill in while I worked on Giant Days for Boom and Bad Machinery 4 for Oni Press. I never set out to make something convoluted, but as the weeks have gone on, it's folded over and over on itself into something crazy.

People sometimes ask me why there's Bobbins, and Scary Go Round, and Bad Machinery, "when they're all just the same thing." The answer is, so that I can work out where the line is between these projects, so I don't have to remember too much, so that I can divide it all up semi-neatly. This last Bobbins story is what happens if I take out all those dividing lines in my head, just so you can see what it looks like. It's a mess. I've started to get emails from people asking for clarification on certain "historical" characters, which suggests to me that it's time to stop. Time's pretty much up for the "Tackleverse", which is why I did it - this is the end of the road for a lot of the characters. 

I hope you enjoyed the experiment as much as I have - it's gone in directions I didn't expect. At the start of April it will be time for something new.