Something pro-choice people talk about is that pro-life billboards often don’t show the mother’s face, which apparently makes her into an object, or some sort of baby factory. That might be true, but the baby’s face is even less visible. In fact, you can’t see the baby at all. It’s hidden.
Once, art was like that. You only got to see the end result – the laborious and painful creation process was hidden from public view. A project was announced, and then you’d have no idea of how it was going. Maybe the creator was having the time of his life, or was reaching for the shotgun, or was farming the project off on to an unpaid and uncredited assistant. You didn’t know.
The internet in general and the webcomic in particular changed that. People would upload comics sequentially, page by page. If a update was late, you might get an apology and an explanation why. A bit destructive to the artist’s mystique, but it was interesting. Like if pregnant women had transparent stomachs and you could see the fetus twist and writhe and struggle.
The Blackblood Alliance was a webcomic I liked when my age was less than it is now (tautology). It was a story about talking wolves, with lots of action, and art heavily inspired by The Lion King and Balto. It was familiar and safe, but good for what it was. The creator, Kay Fedewa, would upload pages and talk about them and redraw them as her skills became better.
Unfortunately, not all pregnancies result in a birth. This one ended in a miscarriage. The first issue was completed, and then updates became less frequent, and then stopped altogether. From time to time Kay would announce on DeviantArt that she had turned a corner, was resuming work on the comic, was more inspired than ever, etc. Nothing happened. I heard rumors of personal trouble: the death of a mother. Either way, it was clear that Kay was no longer capable of finishing The Blackblood Alliance.
Maybe she aimed too high. She had big plans for the Blackblood Alliance, such as an MMORPG and a cartoon series. Maybe when those things failed, they took the comic down with them. I don’t know. I got to see part of the comic’s creation, but the really crucial parts remained close to me. Eventually she admitted defeat and handed the comic over to partner Erin Siegel, who has done a whole lot of nothing with it. I wonder if both Kay and Erin regard The Blackblood Alliance as something they did when they were kids – what excites you now won’t excite you forever. Mario Puzo actually wanted to write another book instead of the Godfather. When questioned about it years later, he said “subject matter rots like everything else.”
The fragmentary first issue of The Blackblood Alliance still exists online. Has the rest of it rotted in Kay’s head? Maybe. But that to me makes it really special – probably more special than if the comic had been completed. It’s forever a question mark, forever a mystery. The story is stuck in limbo: it hasn’t ended, and it never will. The internet was the way Kay chose to distribute the comic, but ultimately all it did was show readers exactly how a comic can wither and die on the vine.