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Panel By Panel: ‘Simply Sarah" and a Visual Ending

hpkomic at 1:30PM, Feb. 10, 2023

Hello everyone, and welcome to Panel by Panel, a periodic exploration of comic panels around The Duck. This week's topic is special, covering an ending to a popular comic on The Duck. It is also unique, as I will not show the page for spoiler reasons. I'll be discussing it without spoiling much, but you owe it to yourself to read the comic and get to the ending.

This week we are discussing the ending of Simply Sarah by skyangel. This one has been on my to-read list for a while, but now that it is over, it seems I'll be able to take my time and run through the story. As I am not overly familiar with the story, I just want to talk about the final page and what it is doing that creates a sense of closure.

Are you familiar with the concept of fading out as a transition? Another term for it you may recognize is the dissolve. Essentially, it is a technique that comes in various forms that denotes a transition; sometimes, this is between scenes and sometimes between states. It is a marker of progression. In movies, this may be seen as a fade to black or a wipe, but the principle is universal: it's moving from one moment to another.

In comics, you don't necessarily have the same toolbox as filmmakers, but there are associations you can make over successive panels that work as a dissolve. Each panel is technically a transition from one moment in time to another, but beyond that, how do you “fade out?”

I really like how it is handled on this final page of the comic. In four panels depicting various stages of a train trip, you get the sense of a transition. There is also a wonderful sense of time and momentum, as the panels even reflect weather cycles. The final panel also creates a striking image with a rainbow, marking the end of a storm and a sign of the future ahead. The fact these final four panels make up their mini-narrative on the page as a closing to a larger narrative overall is quite well handled.

It can be hard to talk about this given how little context I have for the story itself - it has been on my to-read list. But seeing a final page with the hallmarks of a conclusion and generating what amounts to a final dissolve fills me with confidence about the comic.

Too few webcomics actually end. The sad reality is that there are thousands of unfinished stories floating around out there - surely hundreds on The Duck itself. The fact that Simply Sarah has reached the milestone of an actual ending is impressive and worth acknowledging. But also of note is creating an ending with metaphorical detailing and a sense of narrative that is fulfilling in its own right is also worth celebrating.

I wonder how much more fulfilling this ending will appear once I read the pages leading up to it.

Please be sure to check out Simply Sarah if you have not had a chance to yet. You are fortunate to have a complete story you can enjoy.


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skyangel at 1:05AM, Feb. 14, 2023

@PaulEberhardt: Thank you :) The comments on the first few pages are dated 2007 so the comics been running for 15 years to this point! I first joined the Duck just after a major crash where lots of comics had been lost and people were being advised to keep their own back-ups but I think the site was still in it's infancy as their was such a buzz of excitement about the place and after reading some of the already well established LGBT comics here I really wanted to get started on my own. As much as the comic has become so well established, the comments left on our pages from that time to this make an interesting portrait of life on here over the years too.

PaulEberhardt at 5:07AM, Feb. 13, 2023

@skyangel: I immediately noticed the influence of cinema in that page, and it works like a charm. Big applause for finishing this epic project. How long have you been working on it? I seem to remember it has always been around for at least as long as I've been on the Duck - and that's quite some time.

skyangel at 12:37AM, Feb. 12, 2023

It's been a wonderful ending for me too with so many heartfelt comments rolling in and now this!XD As a child I loved the idea of making movies and the link between comic art and film directing is so similar that I tend to see every scenario that plays through my mind as if I was behind a camera. -- When it comes to doing the art though I think the one thing many here might be interested in is to compare the first few pages of our comic with the last, just to see how constant practice can improve your skills over time! Thank you for this lovely series you have been running on here for some time now, I always enjoy reading them!

Ozoneocean at 12:43AM, Feb. 11, 2023

Wow... the end of an epoc!

Ironscarf at 7:22PM, Feb. 10, 2023

Such a great page to finish on with the simple layout emphasising the passage of time and an echo of the journey we've been on to get to this point. The final panel hits the perfect note, literally heading for the rainbows end. The panoramic shots give it a very cinematic quality too - insert your choice of end title music.

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