It’s over! … Wait.
So, apparently the biggest thing ever happened and I totally missed it because I spent the last few days with family and friends for what we Americans call Thanksgiving. Do you know who’s not a slacker, though? That’s right, Tim “MF’in” Buckley. Last week, he penned what was possibly the longest CAD ever that apparently blinked Ethan McManus out of existence.
Concerned readers weighed in almost immediately. What was going on? Why was the site replaced by bean bag chair ads? You know, the same bean bag chairs that Buckley did fan art of?
Is CAD … dead?
But it was 10 years too young!
Fear not, loyal CAD fans, for the Buckley is not so easy to kill:
So to start off by answering the BIG question hanging in the air… yes, this is really the end.
To be a little more specific, this is the end of Ctrl+Alt+Del in its current incarnation. What’s that mean? It means it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned “Hollywood reboot”.
But why kill off Ethan?
I’d spent the entire start of the comic strip (and many years afterwards) using Ethan and Lucas as a vehicle for whatever jokes came to mind. Random ninja assassinations, video game jokes,whatever. If it made me laugh, I went with it. And that’s all well and good, but what I really didn’t understand at the time is that it all starts to inform an idea of who these characters are. It begins to create a personality for them that may not necessarily be entirely planned or thought out.
So now I had to come up with lives for characters that were already in place. A perfect example of the sort of problems that can cause would be the mess I got myself into with Scott.
When I introduced Scott, I was thinking in the “now.” That I had a couple of funny jokes involving a new linux-loving roommate showing up and how Ethan would react. So I threw him in, told the jokes and… then what? Now this character was in the comic strip. And later on, when I started trying to develop a story for these characters, I had to deal with that. So I retroactively came up with the storyline for him that you now know. And I loved that storyline… but that’s all Scott was. That storyline. That ultimate reveal. So apart from that, he was largely ignored and forgotten, because I didn’t know what else to do with him.
But I planned out all of these story ideas for the characters, and things were fine for a long time… but eventually as I began to grow as a writer and wanted to try new things, I started to crash up against the boundaries of the characters and their established personalities.
That lead to becoming dissatisfied with the characters, and starting to feel stifled by them. That’snot a place any writer wants to be. I had grown as a writer, noticed ways to make the characters more well-rounded, deeper, but couldn’t come up with any graceful way for them to, let’s say, have a sudden and noticeable personality change.
Doing a “happily ever after” ending just didn’t feel right for the comic strip… it didn’t feel right for Ethan, as much as I wanted it to. Ethan has spent the last ten years doing incredibly stupid and dangerous things, with very little consequence. The end of him had to be, ultimately, a result of his own doing. And this was the grandest way possible I could think for that to happen.
This way I feel like you know that he really has nobody but himself and his own decisions to blame, but it’s removed just enough that it still feels a little bit unfair… so you still feel a little bad for him. And more importantly, it gives him an opportunity to take responsibility in the biggest way possible, something that he hasn’t done a whole lot of. He gets to go out making a sacrifice to protect the people he loves… protect them from a situation he set in motion, sure. But a sacrifice nonetheless.
It’s a little sad. It’s a little messy. But there’s closure there where I think it counts.
So what now, brown cow?
I’d made the decision to get a fresh start with the comic, and I was eager to do that, but it wasn’t something I could rush into, else I’d wind up back in the exact same position ten years from now. So for the last two years I’ve been working to not only wrap up some loose ends (Scott) and write a big finale storyline for Ethan, but also begin writing and fleshing out my plans for what comes next.
So what’s that?
First and foremost, Ctrl+Alt+Del is going to refocus on being a primarily video game and pop culture comic strip. It’s where the comic started, and it’s still something I love to do. It’s also simply the best use of the format, but we’ll get to that in a second.
You’ll see the Players take up a more prominent and regular role in the strip. I first introduced the players because I needed characters to star in the more violent comics once it no longer made sense for Ethan and Lucas to be killing eachother. The Players have become some of my favorite characters, and I’m psyched to bump them up to “main characters of the comic” status.
Now that Ethan and Lucas are gone, the Players will step up again to fill the role that Ethan and Lucas started the comic in: vehicles for jokes (and not just violent ones, though that will still be there). That means they’ll get a little bit more inviduality and personality, but that’s where it ends. No long storylines. I’m not ever going to feel the need to answer questions with them such as “How do these people afford video games? Do they have jobs? What are their hopes and dreams?”
I also intend to make an effort to relaunch the Sillies after the new year, with new updates on Tuesday and Thursday, the days the regular comic doesn’t update. Maybe Saturdays too, we’ll see. Mostly I just want to get on a regular routine with them.
Now, some of you love the characters and the stories though, and you’re probably asking “Wait, so you’re done with storylines?”
No, of course not. I’ll always be a storyteller. You will see Ethan and Lucas again, though not quite exactly as you knew them. There are some changes that I’m incredibly excited about. I’ve been spending a lot of time (and will continue over the next few months) crafting their new adventures. It will be a while, since I want to do this right, but you will see them again.
So this is basically Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson making a deal with the devil to undo the marriage. Gotcha.
And more Players? Oh. Uh, glorious!
Indeed, the new CAD is now up and running, and as a portent of things to come, we have a gag about My Little Ponies. All hail the new bronified era of CAD!
Also, if you can’t get enough of “…Will” (the official title of the End of CAD), you might be interested in the “…Will” fanfic. Because… reasons.