This has been an interesting week for endings with a lot of discussion going on as to how a long-running series should end. Of course, the general public has been fixated on the way David Chase chose to end The Sopranos after eight years.
Now, I haven’t seen this last mini-season – it’s all stored on the trusty DVR – but it was on my mind as I sat down last night for the final installment of an even longer running series.
During my first stint at DC Comics, I was always keeping an eye out on what other publishers were up to. In some cases, it was to see who was working and what they were up to. In other cases, it was because my steady diet of super-hero comics left me desiring to read comics about something else. When Patty Jeres started raving about this new miniseries form a small press, I decided to give it a try.
I haven’t missed an issue of Strangers in Paradise ever since.
This week, the final issue came out, putting an end to the long running drama about some real people who endured a lot out of love and friendship for one another. The work was nothing short of riveting, often times stunning. Terry Moore, the writer and artist, explored many themes and took his characters to some very unexpected places as he let his saga of Katchoo and Francine play out.
Along the way, I got to meet Terry on the convention circuit and had the pleasure to share a few meals with me. He was a great, unassuming guy who just wanted to be a storyteller. I was pleased to have had some time getting to know him and have been a supporter of his work ever since.
And now it is over.
Unlike Chase, Terry chose to neatly wrap up all the storylines and put his characters in specific places to leave the reader satisfied.
While his series was a little melodramatic compared to real life, how his characters acted and interrelated always felt real. And unlike real life, the ending was neat and tidy. I found myself tremendously satisfied and pleased that Terry left us with the gift of closure. I’ll miss them all, but am pleased to know how it ended.
The Sopranos, also melodramatic, was more like real life in that life goes for all the people still left breathing when the screen went blank. Like real life, we don’t always know how things turn out. I totally lost track of Duane, who for one semester was my college roommate or Heidi, my first series high school girlfriend. Their lives continue but my involvement with them, ended long ago. Am I satisfied in not knowing what became of them? I’m certainly curious.
However, after eight years of investment in Tony and his clan, viewers had come to expect a finish. After all, we watched the WJM crew turn out the lights in Minneapolis and followed Hawkeye’s chopped as it lifted above the 4077th. Even the one-armed man was captured. We’ve been trained to expect the period at the end of the sentence and get disappointed when we’re not supplied the resolution (one reason why people get pissed when serials get canceled before they can end — The Nine, for example.
Chase followed his artistic instincts and gave us the ending he wanted. No multiple endings shot, only an inconsequential page of Meadow actually entering the ice cram parlor, which changed nothing. He gave us the lives of these people and chose how he wanted things to finish…fading to black and letting our imaginations complete the story.
Terry went a different way, equally as valid. And again, thanks to conditioning as a consumer of mass media, perhaps more satisfying. I salute Terry for his achievement and can’t wait to see his new series, promised for the fall.