I want to share Achewood with you guys. You've probably seen it at one point or another, I've been following it since sometime late in 2002 I think. The basic info on it is: Achewood is an online comic strip by a guy named Chris Onstad. It has been running since October 1st, 2001. The comic has evolved entirely post 9-11, it practically is post 9-11.
There is no over-arching, main story arc. Instead, Onstad uses short-term story arcs which develop the recurring characters. This isn't exactly revolutionary (Larry David), in fact it seems to be the MO of most webcomics I've seen or followed, but still, no one does it like Chris Onstad. I would normally have linked to Achewood's main page by now but the whole reason this is on my mind at the moment is that the current story arc has gotten so crazy that I noticed how important one (or each?) character's arc has grown despite the lack of a main story arc. I also noticed how much would be lost on a new reader, and I feel like this quality. . . feels like Quality.
So, with respect to the greater work that is Achewood I present the following link from 03/12/2002:
I would recommend reading from there until at least 04/22/02.
This storyline marks the first time I feel Chris Onstad moves into the real form that Achewood employs as the comic progresses. So many new characters are introduced and interact with each other that the scope of the comic itself is widened substantially from what it was before. And from this point on none of these many and diverse recurring characters is written as a stereotype, from here on out the scope of the narrative is constantly widened.
Of course, this is what happens with ANY serialized, episodic narrative- this is why any show that lasts for a good handfull of seasons eventually feels its own weight and becomes self aware. Postmodernism brings this moment to the front much sooner, and I think moving past it gracefully is really the first test anything/anyone faces in our times. In a way, The Party storyline here works as a structural metaphor as much as it functions narratively. Here Chris Onstad creates a massive party where all the existing and conceptualized characters in this world he is creating come together as friends and exert their personalities so we all have a good time with them and at the end of it, everyone is ready to see what else life brings and they're all friends at the core, they know that and we know that. And isn't that the point of a party. . . at its core?
I'd also like to point out that the messageboard/blog posts for each strip are included in the archives. They have an interesting feature where blog memebers can cheer or boo over comments to the point where the comments can actually be removed for acting like too much of a "lamer." The followers of the site can pretty much write their own history. I never paid much attention to the messageboard before today but, there's something interesting happening there too.