Webcomic of the Week – RPG World

So, to kick off my month of covering webcomics from my youthier-youth, I figured a good place to start would be the one that introduced me to true disappointment.  Not for quality, because I always loved RPG World by Ian Jones-Quartey.  No, this disappointment came from its all too sudden demise, timed at just about the ending to the story.  That’s right – RPG World is a webcomic that went on throughout most of its story, and just as we were about to see the final battle take place between the heroes and the villains, Ian stopped.  He just lost all interest in RPG World as a whole and never ended it.  He announced that it was over for good a few years later, and here I am, a broken shell of a man.  Or perhaps that’s too extreme?

RPG World was everything it needed to be when I began reading it.  It was a parody of RPGs like Final Fantasy, even gathering most of its look and references from FFVII, which I had first played not long before I began reading.  It followed Hero, the hero of the story, and the many allies he made as he quested to fight evil and gain experience.  He was joined by Cherry, Diane, Eikre, Dragobo, Rika, Howard Wigglebottom, and Rabble-Rouser.  They made a great team and fought a number of different enemies while filling in the general roles they were expected to fill.  There was a love triangle (or square, or whatever) between Hero, Cherry and Diane, and eventually Eikre.  Dragobo communicated via small signs he held up.  Howard was a bit of a jerk (if memory serves, which it might not) and Rika was a pirate that built robots.  Rabble-Rouser didn’t wind up with the team until what eventually was known as the very end of the comic.  Together, they were a rather happy band of miscreants.

However, the team had to face a man by the name of Galgarion, who seemed to be a parody of villains Sephiroth and Garland just as much as Hero was of Cloud Strife.  Despite being depicted as a bit of a fool early on, it soon became clear that he was not to be trifled with.  Along with some other assorted villains such as Jeff, Detestai, Earl and Larry, Galgarion proceeded to screw with the team’s day on more than one occasion.  All this had to happen, you see, for that is how the game played out.  RPG World was set up like any other multi-disk game, even taking time out to show where save points were and when particular events came up that caused the disk to have to be changed out.  This is how RPG World managed to be more multi-layered than you’d think.

Outside of the world of RPG World was Jim, the guy who played the game.  He was the cause for Hero and the others moving forward as they did, showing how he reacted in situations such as the death of the heroes and his use of a cheat device (which actually caused the heroes to go through multiple odd changes in size, color and power.  It was a nice little break in-between each big section of story and gave us some jokes not only about the games but the people who play them.  But beyond that, RPG World extended beyond just the laughs and made you give a damn about the characters.  Not Jim though.

Parodying every trope and cliche you’d expect to see in an RPG was what made RPG World a success, but it had its moments of intrigue as well.  We never really got to learn all of Hero’s past.  Hell, we never even learned his name.  We never got to see what importance he, Cherry, and Diane would have in the war between the races of humans, elves and monsters.  We never got to see underneath Galgarion’s mask.  What was going to happen with the Phoenix Book?  Were they going to beat the villains?  God, at least tell us what was going to happen with Evil Soldier #347!

This was ultimately the comic’s undoing as these answers were never given.  Ian got distracted with other projects that he was more interested in, and because of that he let RPG World fall behind.  It took a while but he finally announced to the fans that had been holding out hope all that time that there would be no ending to RPG World.  We would never get the hilarious, or heartfelt, or even disappointing ending to the series, and that he was sorry.  At least, at times he was sorry.  Ian had to put up with a lot of complaints from the fans that still frequented his message board and I could imagine it got old fast.  At times he seemed to have more righteous indignation towards its cancellation, but at other times he seemed pretty apologetic, acknowledging that it was kind of messed up to leave the fans hanging.  But despite his understanding that he was doing exactly that, he just kept on leaving them hanging.  Not even a rushed final page of “and they all died, stop writing to me” for the fans to rage over.  He put up some previously published materials that had shown up in some Keenspot comics and that was it.

Look, I get it.  The dude didn’t want to be forever associated with one video game webcomic.  We’ve got assloads of those guys out there already.  Ian moved on to bigger and better things in the field of animation.  After doing his own project online entitled nockFORCE, he eventually became animation director on a little show I happen to love entitled The Venture Brothers.  Shit, I’d stop doing this article mid-sentence if I was offered a job on The Venture Brothers.  And I fully understand the loss of interest in a project.  I’ve experienced it before.  All creators have.  The only issue that gets brought up is the fans.  Ian had a fan base going and he disappointed a lot of people when he fell out of love with the story.  I don’t blame him for not loving it, but it was so close to being done, at the very least the first ongoing story was practically done.  We were at the final boss.  We could have finished the game.  But it’s like we were in the middle of playing then suddenly your little brother swings a baseball bat and smashes your system.  Jesus, is that a piece of plastic in my eye?

I’m not going to be too critical of Ian.  Mostly it’s just the disappointment of a fan.  But screw it, I’ve moved on.  I appreciate the story for what it was and how invested I was in it years ago.  Fan derision has died off and I think the wounds have healed, but it just would have been nice to see an unlikely hero beating the bad guy.  Unfortunately, it appears there’s a little flaw with the archives, and as far as I can tell you can’t see the pages on there any more.  But you can still go to the site, and read up more on what this was and why there was so much heated debate over the ending, or lack thereof.  Trust me, it was a great webcomic full of laughs and action.  I just would have loved to see it keep going.

You can visit the site here.

You can visit Ian’s website blackdotstudios.

You can also read the post that hurt the most.

Next week I’ll be covering another beloved webcomic from my earlier days, this time one that I parted ways with on more understandable and peaceful terms.  I’ll figure out what it will be when I get to it.

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