The End of Tart

The title of this post is a little underhanded. Ludo and I are barreling forward with our story and have no plans to give up on what we started. But I wanted to talk a little about how my tastes in comics have changed, and how that change relates to the story we're going to tell.

When I began reading comics I was all X-Men, all the time. It was during Claremont's extraordinary run, just after The Fall of the Mutants. My Mom once asked me why I liked comics, and I answered that I liked to read, and comics were a way that the story never ended. Sure Kitty and Wolvie had escaped the Marauders, but all I had to do was wait one month and another chapter would be on its way.

That was then. Now when I think back to the stories that stuck with me, single arcs in ongoing comics don't jump out. The ones I remember are Mage, Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I still have a love for the comics I read as a kid, but the ones that made the strongest impressions on me ended. And they didn't end because they were cancelled, they ended because they were written to end.

In my adult life I've finally read my two favorite comic series of all time, Sandman and Bone. They both end. And they end when they're supposed to. I can not recommend either of them enough.

Seriously. Go read Bone and Sandman if you haven't. Now.

I believe these series resonate better with me than the perpetually ongoing ones because when you're on the 400th issue of a title, what could be your goal? Sure you want to entertain your readers. And yes, you want to invent new and interesting conflicts/scenarios for those characters to live through. But in truth what you're really trying to do is just keep the patient on life support as long as possible.

A very recent example is Fables. From what I understand Fables was envisioned as a 70 or 80 issue series with a definitive end. And when they got there, the writer realized he had more stories to tell. Bill Willingham is an extraordinary writer (and his primary artist on the series, Mark Buckingham, is one of my all-time favorites) so each individual issue after the envisioned ending has been enjoyable. But in my opinion, they aren't memorable. To me the series ends when the war against The Adversary ends. Everything afterwards fades from my mind. Please feel free to disagree in the comments if you've read it.

So what does that have to do with Tart? Ludo and I are (perhaps, naively) ambitious with this project. We want it to be the type of series that resonates. We want it to be one that can be read multiple times. And we want it to be one that sticks with you.

Tart will end. I can't say which issue it will end on (heck, the story to issues 4-7 didn't exist when we mapped our series, and a few of our ideas will not work for various reasons so any total number of issues for this series would be no more than a guess), but it will end. And we know what that ending is.

As my mind wonders to the ending, and I plan on how to make it satisfying for the audience, it also allows me to build toward it. Just yesterday, I sent Ludo an image he'll need for the final issue. An image he may not draw for print for 5 to 10 years, but that he will draw eventually. I hope this will make each issue not a comic in your hands, but an individual chapter in one long novel (I chose not to use the term Graphic Novel here because Tart is a comic, and I'm proud it's a comic. Graphic Novel is a term people outside of comics use to forgive themselves for reading comics. Off soapbox).

Oh, and Hell No, I won't tell you what that ending is.

Have a great week, everybody!


  1. Interesting. But to play Devil's advocate... We'd have no Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Xmen, etc. for today's generation of comic readers if every series had an end. Would kids today go pick up a Superman comic that ended it's run in the 1950's? Maybe. Most likely some college kids would think it was cool and retro. But, kids? The lifeblood of comics is new, young readers. There's a reason why Manga is more popular with young kids than Dickens. Dickens is old and out of touch. Manga comes out weekly and keeps going. Think about what kind of character and universe you are trying to create rather than the types of creators and stories you liked. Xmen got YOU into comics afterall, and they're still going strong.

  2. Valid, valid points. Tart's still going to end, but I like the way your brain works.

    As for kids, I've been thinking a lot about how there needs to be more all-ages material (again, Bone. Bone people. Read Bone) to usher in the next generation of reader. I don't have any actionable ideas yet, but I'm noodling with some things.

    Added to that, there needs to be comics written by women for women. The cosplay community I saw at SuperCon is not necessarily into comics. If we can create readers in that community the comic market will be strong for another forty years. Tart is created to be enjoyed by men and women equally (my three beta readers of every script are my Wife, Ana, the woman who introduced me to Ludo and, of course, Ludo himself). And I'd happily place it into any woman's hands who haven't read comics, but I bet something much more female-entric would entice that audience even more.

    Of course, The "Scott Pilgrim" books worked very well for women and it was written by a dude, and I assume targeted for males and females. So it doesn't have to be so cynical. Just make good stories with characters they care about and women will read.

  3. I a fan of the ending series. I agree with OD that without the "infinite series" we might not have enjoyed the characters we did as kids, since the books would be over, but I'd argue that there could be even better characters, who developed from seeing what past series had done. Also, it's not like today's book readers haven't heard of Pip or the Bennett sisters. I'd argue that the series that were truly good on their own merit would still be read and enjoyed (assuming the trade collections could be reprinted as easily as text classics have been).