Gotta hand it to Andrew Farago — in addition to curating the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco and being married to the Nexus of All Webcomics Realities (west coast division), he does his own webcomics, and has today wrapped up the first mega-arc of The Chronicles of William Bazillion today. Across seven chapters (some of which have nearly a hundred pages), multiple digressions, and side stories, Farago has brought us the adventures of the titular William Bazillion — plucky boy adventurer, leader of similar plucky boy adventurers, and total dick.
Seriously, he spent the past however long destroying alternate (good) versions of himself from parallel universes, teaming up with the clone of Richard Nixon (and a few hundred accessory Nixons, making a Nixon Family that makes the Marvel Family look lame by comparison), leaving a swath of destruction so he could overthrow Santa and obtain the naughty/nice database for his own nefarious purposes.
Bazillion does it because he knows that world is a game, and he’s the master of its rules and loopholes. By contrast, over in Erfworld, young Parson Gotti is trapped in a literal game world and is desperately trying to learn the rules and loopholes.
A hundred and fifty comics later, we’re on summer break, and getting occasional updates that are mostly text to tell us what happens in between the big important story arcs. It’s a really clever device, actually — creators Rob Balder and Jamie Noguchi could have gone straight to the next chapter in comics form, and caught us up on the “between” plot in a few pages of panels, but breaking out the prose allows the easily-exposited points some space to breathe.
In a way, it reminds me of what Terry Moore did repeatedly during the run of Strangers in Paradise: when presented with a lot of information that needed to be conveyed quickly, lest the plot drag (or a little information necessary to the plot and a lot of color that just made the story feel more fully inhabited), Moore would abandon the comics for up to four or even six pages of plain prose. No pictures — just dense, omniscient third-person prose that got a lot across in very few pages, without requiring whole issues of talking-head exposition. It’s such an effective thing (when done well) that I’m surprised that more creators haven’t done it. Kudos to Balder and Noguchi for trying something new, and I can’t wait to see how well it integrates when Erfworld goes back to regular comics.