The End
June 12th, 2014

The End

I’ve put this post off a lot longer than I should have: Zelda Comic is officially over.

This likely comes as no surprise to those who have been routinely checking this page for updates over the last few years. Beyond its first few months of existence, the strip was never known for punctual updates, or for sticking to any sort of schedule, but not having made a new comic since 2011 was probably a pretty strong indicator that there wouldn’t be further adventures of Link and the gang.

What happened? Like any story, we need to begin at the origin.

Zelda Comic started as a way for me to distract myself from doing college homework (it worked really well for that too) and became a great venue for silly jokes about old video games. I guess I had a lot of those kinds of thoughts that didn’t previously have a good outlet. Eventually the comic took up a lot of my free time… and then my not-free time. It introduced me to the larger Internet community of sprite comics, and then the even larger community of webcomics in general. It got me in touch with other creators with similar senses of humor and interests, and that in turn got me into the Inksandwich community, which later evolved into The Orange Belt.

Through it all, I plugged away, editing pixel by precious pixel to put together a retelling of a standard Zelda story. But through it all, there was a conceit that I failed to acknowledge until it was too late:

There was no story.

The strip started as a gag-a-day format, but a good Zelda game wraps its adventures in a larger objective. Save the princess, defeat Ganondorf, find the Triforce, find all the Skulltulas, save Hyrule from evil. I pushed Link out the door to accomplish these objectives in an amusing manner, but only really focused on how the gags would play out in each strip. I didn’t write with any sense of how the story would progress, what twists and turns would appear, which characters would get introduced in what way, how they would figure into a larger story, or how this comic relates to the games such that the reader should even care what transpires.

This showed.

Beyond Navi, Link ended up with Bub and Pit as companions. I included Bub because I liked Bubble Bobble and his sprite had expressive eyes. I put Pit in because I had at the time been recently introduced to Kid Icarus and thought it was pretty okay. Neither of these decisions were made with any forethought. It never occurred to me that their presence in an otherwise all-Zelda world wouldn’t make any sense, because I just wanted to put different characters with different fonts in the panels, characters who could say different things so Link had someone beyond Navi to bounce his silly nonsense dialog off of. If I could go back and change something, they never would have been in the comic, replaced with someone more Hyrule-appropriate.

Once I noticed how untenable the random character introductions were (probably around the time the Pikachu herd appeared), I tried to course-correct. I would take breaks and write down ideas in a notebook. I would draw storyboards before spriting to make the comic process more efficient. But this only served to slow down the comic’s productivity. Days, then weeks, would go by without updates, or with filler comics, or with Dragonball Z-style spans of time where nothing of significance would happen in an individual release. And by the time I got back after a break, the pacing didn’t change, so readers would have to patiently endure a slowly-progressing story. I felt bad about this, and my shame would cause further delays. It was a vicious cycle I perpetrated. And on top of all that, I haven’t had a copy of Photoshop in years, and though I love Pixelmator as a cheaper alternative, it doesn’t have the sprite comic-making goodies I require (no Image Interpolation settings!).

So no more cycle-perpetration. I’m shutting down the comic before letting another day pass of letting even a single reader wonder when the next strip is coming.

What does this mean for the story? Honestly, there was nothing else. My lack of overall plot-planning endured through to the last comic. I had thought ahead as far as Link trying to get a raft to cross the sea into the Western Hyrule continent (you all remember your Zelda II maps, right??), maybe introducing a King of Red Lions sprite. Eventually Link would have made it to Kasuto for a final confrontation, Zelda would finally be revealed to Link as Sheik in disguise. Blooper would have come to terms with his cross-dressing.

Kasuto, incidentally, was the most developed product of the story, as evidenced by Episode 300. From the moment he was introduced, it was intended that he be a fallen sage (his name being a reference to the only Zelda II town name not reused as an Ocarina of Time character) who sought to collect the Triforce pieces. The ancient scroll he found with the text “He who masters Wisdom, Courage and Power shall be the Fourth” referred to the space in the center of the three Triforce pieces, a Dark Triforce that would let him tap into a great power (it’s all kinda cheesy to lay out in text like this, but I feel that you as a dedicated reader should know when I actually did put some effort into my storytelling).

And how would it have ended? Of course, Link would have triumphed over Kasuto and saved Zelda. I had intended to find ways to remove Pit and Bub from the story before the end, possibly sending them back to their own games/worlds. The end of the comic would have evolved into a Serious Mode, the jokes would have gradually faded, and the more silly elements stripped away to allow for a climactic battle. I thought this was important as it’s the same journey Link takes in his games – and really, the same path every epic story takes. The world starts out bright and colorful, with a cast of fun supporting characters along the way, but eventually the need to defeat evil overwhelms the scene and the player has to adapt to the change in tone.

Carl would have come back. As one of my more complex original sprites at the time, Carl had a special place in my heart.

Though I am a fan of the 8-bit art style and aesthetic, sprites ultimately were far too limiting for the kind of imagery I wanted to create (Photoshop had some light effects that came in handy as my skill improved, but that only goes so far). My choice of source material rendered me unable to do more with Zelda Comic than the Comic part; I would have loved to create t-shirts or prints or the other things webcomics do so their readers can support the artist’s work, but I wanted to respect Nintendo and the Fair Use and Parody Laws that let me tell the story at all.

I realize I’m probably coming off as disparaging of the strip in this writeup. But ultimately, I learned a lot from Zelda Comic. It taught me a lot about how to tell a story, how to use image editing tools to put a comic together on a computer, how to run a website, how to communicate with a fan base (or what not to do). ZC introduced me to some of the greatest Internet friends I’d ever care to meet, friendships that endure to this day through The Orange Belt and through social networks. I attended conventions, met fans in person, met other webcomic creators. Though I had started communicating to people online in the AOL chatroom days, it was through the Top Web Comics, Inksandwich, and The Orange Belt forums that I really learned how to be respectful in my communication, and Zelda Comic was the primary conduit for that education. Though it could have gone better and ended much better, I will look back on this comic with fondness and respect.

Where do we go from here?

I will keep this site online as long as I am financially able (luckily it shares hosting with The Orange Belt and does not cost anything extra to keep online beyond the $10/year domain name upkeep). If zeldacomic.net is ever being taken down, I will give you as much advance notice as I can, and ideally would pay for a final year of the domain, so you should have plenty of notice. In that case, the archive would most likely find a new home on dotmatrixwithstereosound.com or whatever other personal site I’m running at that time, but if you’re the sort of person who downloads discontinued webcomics, please feel free (I’ve got more than enough bandwidth). All the bonus comics and sprite sheets will remain online as well for your enjoyment – or your usage, if people actually still make sprite comics.

I’m most likely going to disable WordPress commenting in the near future, but you should not consider yourselves censored from comment. The Orange Belt Forums never seemed to generate much interest from my readership, but I’ll make one final appeal to you all to consider signing up. The Zelda Comic forum will remain online and open to discussion, so please feel free to register and discuss there. And while you’re there, the other forums, while not super-active, are frequented by me and other community members who would love to have you. We’re actually planning to move to new forum software at some point in the not-too-distant future, but any accounts you create on the current incarnation will migrate over. Get in on the ground floor!

The place I’m most active online currently is Twitter (@mpanighetti), if you want to see other words and sentences I put together. I also just got a Wii U (WaveBirdJunkie), and can generally be found playing my Zelda II Virtual Console download or NES Remix 2 (so much NES; I’m a lost cause, current-gen game consoles). My mario@zeldacomic.net email is being disabled, but for now will forward to another email if you have anything you’d like to say to me.

I am forever humbled by the fact that some non-zero number of strangers on the Internet took the time to look at something I created, and seemingly drew enjoyment from said creation. No matter where my future takes me, I will never forget how wonderful (and patient) my readers were. Nobody could ever ask for a better bunch of fans.

~mario

[discuss]

^ 20 Comments...

  1. ColdFusion

    Say it ain’t so! Man.. and I’ve been checking every day..
    Oh well, I understand I guess. It was nice of you to tell us this much. I just hope you continue to do comics in the future, and link us to them here.
    *moves comic to ‘finished’ folder in favorites*

  2. Nego

    I’m sad to see this comic hit its end but I understand it’s not easy to keep up with a story-driven comic without a story. You did a fine job with the comic and I will have to say that I absolutely love it.

    I doubt you remember me but back in the day I used to make an Ace Attorney themed sprite comic (it spanned for 5 pages :D ) and you helped me with one of them. I asked you if I could use your Link sprite and you told me yes. You even went ahead and cleaned the sprite up for me (I was a total newbie back then). I never got around to use it though. I think I did edit the comic with your cleaned-up sprite but I never got around to publish it. I wanted to continue that comic. I had begun working on a very special episode for the comic but, since I had only the start of the plot for the comic thought out, I never finished it. So yeah, I also know what it’s like to make a comic when you don’t know how it will continue.

    Anyways, I just wanted to thank you for the amazing trip that Zelda comic has been and how much you helped me back in the day. You even posted about my comic on your forums (I found out this much later actually) and I felt I let you down by stopping the updates right after you helped me.

    In any case, good luck on your future plans!

  3. 1337F0X

    You should make a sprite sheet with every character used. (mainly Carl)

  4. mario

    In fact, Carl and the rest of the gang have sprite sheets! You can download them from the Bonus page (zeldacomic.net/bonus) under Resources. They’re mostly in PNG format but I can provide other formats if people want.

  5. Adriankun

    Hey. I read your whole comic about two years ago on my 3DS. I primarily used my 3DS back then so it was great to find an awesome comic that worked perfectly on its crappy browser. I came on to see if it was ever updated and it is understandable that you are going to end it but regardless it makes me sad. I am glad that your audience and artwork taught you alot. Well, there isn’t much to say, I just wanted to add a comment to contribute to the fact that I will miss this comic and i’ll probably reread it for the hell of it one more time. Cheers. :)

  6. Squiggy

    I kinda knew Zelda Comic was never coming back, but it’s still sad to see the official words and official end of the strip. Zelda Comic was my first sprite comic, and first webcomic really, that I ever followed. It in turn led me to Planet Zebeth, which I eventually came to do fan comics for, including an arc where Zelda Comic’s characters crossed over. That never got finished either for very similar reasons. Ran out of free time, and I had no idea where I was going with the story. My time doing fan stuff for Zebeth is what got me into the community on their forum, and that shaped my Internet experiences in ways I’d never imagined it would at the time, making friends online and discovering new things.

    So basically your comic kind of, sort of, a little bit, permanently shaped a big part of who I am today!

  7. Chris

    Well, I must say I was kinda relieved to see this. No more suspense.

    It’s still pretty sad, though. The first webcomic I’ve read over, in such a short lived way, as well.

    The good ones die young.
    Except for when they die old. Or middle aged.

  8. Some random kid

    I know you don’t really care but I just wanted to tell it : I hazardly discovered one of your Zelda Comic episode on bing images.

    It was back to end 2011 or beginning 2012, when I had a heartbreak, so I was looking for something to recomfort myself. I’ve got my hand on some sort of Zelda Comic (funnily, the one I found was the chapter 310), and decided that I’ll read it entirely, before becoming one of those who were hoping for you to post a new chapter/to be alive.

    I’m just gonna finish by telling thank you for giving me some entertainment when I needed something to stuff the hole on my hearth, 2 years and a while ago (it sure was interesting to see Ganondorf’s powerful Punch, which never worked x) ).

  9. mario

    Oh, but I DO care. I’m glad you enjoyed the comic! I think I had the most fun when I started integrating Smash Bros. move sets/character designs for Zelda/Sheik and Ganondorf. Making custom sprites and special effects was definitely a fun way to put creative energies into the artwork.

  10. Xlax Thurman

    Hey there. I, too, discovered zelda comic on my 3ds. It was right when it came out, like 09 10 or whatever. But yeah, thanks for an awesome web comic and yeah.

  11. Freddy Fazebear

    WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?! I’M GONNA END UP CRYING MYSELF TO SLEEP THANKS TO ZELDA COMIC DYING! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?! THIS WAS MY FAVORITE COMIC EVER! NOT EVEN PEANUTS COULD BEST THIS, AND CHARLIE BROWN IS AWESOME! Goodbye Zelda Comic. I’ll miss you.

  12. tabasco man

    thank you, my friend, for all you you have done.
    whatever you do, keep this site up. I intend to reread from time to time.
    best of luck in all of your future endeavors.

  13. Jared

    Hey, Mario! I’ve been with ‘ya since the early stages of this comic. I’m sad it’s over, but I have to say that I’m okay with it. I really enjoyed the comics while they lasted, and I didn’t even care if there wasn’t a story. Thank you for giving me laughs, Mario.

  14. Fred

    Thanks for all the work you did on this comic, and thanks for officially telling us you canceled it, it gives closure. Too many comics just stop updating or end in a “temporary” hiatus…

  15. OneTrueNEET

    I’m sad to see this comic go. However, not all things have to stay dead…

  16. protomegaman

    what happend to zelda and sheik

  17. Norkestra

    Just wanna say
    Damn, this comic was my childhood. This was the first web comic I ever came across and it probably influenced me a lot. i Still draw comics now!

    Somewhere in my life I guess i stopped reading, so it’s weird coming back and seeing it officially ended sorta recently (well, more recently than I expected)

    I usually don’t leave comments, but I wanna say thanks for shaping my kid-hood! Good luck in whatever you do next

  18. Maddok

    Aw jeez, it’s been a few years, for a moment I was so excited at first glance to see that there was something new on this page.
    Alas, I can’t say this came as too much of a surprise that it was just a goodbye. Thanks a ton Mario for all the good times, I loved this comic, and thanks for the closure too.

  19. Charles

    Oh. Well, good luck in your next projects. Consider donations or partreon or kickstarter if you ever want to continue

  20. Jollus

    I remember reading this back it 2006-07, it made me giggle a few times. Sad that it’s ended, but I’m glad that there’s some kind of closure. A big thanks to Mario Panighetti for creating it, and all the best in future!

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