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May 26, 2010


Your Favorite Comics Farewells

Yesterday, CR ran an article on ten of my favorite comics "finales." I invited CR readers to share a few of their own. This is how they responded.

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Andrew Mansell

The Last of the annual Sunday Fall strips featuring Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football. Schulz brilliantly features Rerun -- the very best character of the last decade of the strip -- and provides us with a genuine punchline as well as some closure (depending on how you look at it) Perfection!

The Final Steve Canyon strip. The drawing by Bill Mauldin is splendid on so many levels; combined with the signatures of the "survivors", it truly marks the passing of an era.

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Lane Milburn

Last year I reluctantly checked out the Deathnote series from a local library and read all 12(?) volumes. I wasn't into the goth-highschool-vengeance-thriller tale at first but was soon pulled along into the taut, forward-driving plotline. I enjoyed a lot of it and found it to be a wild ride with lots of clever and tense moments.

But wow, what an ending!!! One of the book's signature (and in my mind, most annoying) features is the accruing list of rules for the Deathnote book at the beginning of each chapter. There are so many rules added every few pages that they're impossible to keep up with. But something kinda beautiful happens at the beginning of the last chapter: the two new rules are: "Once dead, they (the book's victims) cannot be brought back" and "They all go to the same place and that is Mu (nothingness)."

The final chapter is a beautiful silent sequence of a procession of robed, candle-bearing figures in the mountains, looking like pious outcasts. This little coda suggests a continued following for the defeated godlike villain Kira.

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Chad Nevett

Dashed off my own top ten list for my weekly random thoughts post on Comics Should be Good (in no particular order):

1. The final Calvin and Hobbes strip 2. Animal Man #26 3. Preacher #66 4. Transmetropolitan #60 5. Automatic Kafka #9 6. The Authority #12 7. The Dark Knight Returns #4 8. Punisher: The End 9. The Invisibles vol. 3 #1 10. The end of the original Incal

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Douglas Wolk

In the category of "last Grant Morrison issue of a series that continues after he's gone," I love the double-whammy of Doom Patrol #62 (which was, as I recall, presented as his final issue, and ends things in a pretty standard way, with a triumphal everybody-hugs note) and #63 (which turns the previous ending inside-out and recasts it as a desperate attempt at an escape from crushing awfulness). I can't think of any other serial that's pulled off that kind of fake ending/real ending trick.

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Box Brown

"Passing Before Life's Very Eyes" by Kurt Wolfgang -- a short story I first read in Best American Comics 2006 about a man's death. Ends in a perfectly placed blank page.

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William Burns

I immediately thought of Tom Strong #36.

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Chris Mautner

I was just thinking of this yesterday, as I'm currently reading the new volume of Walt & Skeezix, but Frank King's farewell strip for "Gasoline Alley," is touching and brilliant, with a older and slightly forgetful Walt looking over photos of his children and grandchildren and wondering what the future holds.

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Michael Carens-Nedelsky

Thanks for that, Tom, quite nice. The final sunday strip of Calvin and Hobbes seems a grievous omission -- that strip really was its generation's Peanuts. "It's a magical world Hobbes Ol' Buddy -- Let's go exploring!" is a line that stays forever.

In comic books proper, I think the finale of Sandman is a towering achievement, not least of which for being the first commercially successful series to end of its volition because Gaiman thought the story was done. Whether you consider "the end" issue #75, or the end of The Kindly Ones where Morpheus story concludes, or view The Wake to be a single, cohesive conclusion, the power of that resolution is undeniable.

Y: The Last Man is some craziness. Not sure how I feel about it's ending certain threads, but emotional character moments are excellent. Coincidentally, Brian K. Vaughan ended up writing for Lost.

Otherwise, never heard of Far Arden -- how was it originally published? And I thought Pluto had a decent ending, but then again it's about the only long-form manga I have ever read.

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Mark Coale

The two that immediately come to mind are Starman #80 and the last Calvin and Hobbes. Also Alan Moore's last issue of Swamp Thing (64?).

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Shannon Smith

My favorite final issue is The Invisibles Vol. 3 #1. (It counted down backwards.) Just a fantastic Morrison & Quitely comic. Blew my mind. Still does. A great breaking the fourth wall ending that (much like the final Peanuts) feels like the writer and character are speaking directly to the individual reader. But it's much more than a good bye. It's like a grand send off for the reader to begin their own adventure. As if the reader is set free as the word balloons float off the page to infect reality. While, in the spirit of the series, it is full of double meanings and pokes fun at itself. "Our sentence is up." Which means freedom. Or, just it means that the literal sentence on the page is over. Period. Alan Moore's Promethea had a nearly identical ending but it took Moore a full comic to explain what the Jack Frost character explains in the last couple of pages of The Invisibles.

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Michael Grabowski

The final Calvin & Hobbes strip is a nice variation on them heading off into the sunset. The final Far Side is memorable, though a little too cute to be truly great. The final few pages of High Society may not qualify, but it's memorable for being very different in style from the way any other Cerebus book or serial ended. I also wonder if it's not the ending Sim would keep if he could go back and change it. The original Omega The Unknown #10 very much has that "suddenly canceled TV show" quality about it even if by itself it's not the greatest comic or ending.

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John Vest

I enjoyed reading the CR Best Goodbyes feature. Here are a few goodbyes in comics I enjoyed (although maybe the first two don't count exactly).

I liked Nick Fury #15 when it came out and was always kind of sorry Marvel revived the character. I asked Mr. Friedrich at a Heroes Con about the comic and he said the original intent had been to kill Nick fury, as the comic hadn't been selling well. I'm not sure if Nick Fury has ever really been used effectively in comics since that issue.

It wasn't the end of the series, but Doctor Strange was never the same after Steve Ditko's departure with Strange Tales #146. That issue had the fantastic splash pages with the Eternity/Dormammu fight.

A couple of other goodbyes I enjoyed in comics over the years were Tomb Of Dracula #70 and the end of Fritz the Cat in The People's Comics.

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Sullivan "Sully" Elliot

Since you mentioned manga, I thought I'd mention the splash at the end of 20th Century Boys, where the band finally gets back together and plays a tune together was awesome, while the end of the enigmatic Blame! was chilling and eerie, and just a little hopeful.

For comics, the ending of Transmetropolitan is the best finale of any story I've ever read, regardless of medium, and it brought tears to my eyes. Sandman and Preacher had phenomenal endings as well.

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Leandro Damasceno

Great list, but I think Bill Waterson's Calvin & Hobbits could find a spot among the top 10.

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Danny Ceballos

1. Chester Brown's Yummy Fur #32

A grand exit for a disheveled lady of a comic book. Chester's as yet unfinished telling of the Gospels of Matthew finally takes center stage and then that stage goes dark. With a laff-out-loud depiction of Salome's dance (rendered in a mere two panels) joltingly followed by that grotesque severed head of the baptist held aloft in mockery for eternity. The back cover ends it all with a super-Jewy Jesus laying down a guilt trip so powerful that it should last you at least two or three lifetimes. Worth the original $2.95 price for the cover alone.

2. Doom Patrol Vol. 2 #63

Another "it was all a crazy dream" like ending is gratefully averted by Grant Morrison who allows our herione to slouch off onto that confetti strewn street named Danny. I hope they never find the body...

*****

Thanks, everybody! Great endings. Two editor's notes. One is that on Chris Mautner's entry the 1959 Gasoline Alley art is as close as I could find to King's last strip. Two is that while it's up to you whether Calvin and Hobbes is an egregious omission from your list, it's omitted from my favorites because I thought it was kind of obvious and ordinary. I say that as a huge fan of Watterson's work. My list would be different in five or six places if it were a list of the best endings rather than my ten favorites. I apologize for my soft labeling.

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