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<   No. 1423   2006-12-19   >

Comic #1423

1 Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs: But, but... I have a fireball victim waiting. That's a collection!
2 Head Death: Not any more. We'll let the victim off this time.
3 Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs: That's not fair!
4 Head Death: Immortality, freedom from normal constraints of space and time, a scenic work environment, and you want fair too?

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Sometimes I get e-mails from readers wanting to know why a certain strip isn't tagged as a crossover with some other theme. For example, this one. Some people may wonder why this isn't marked as a crossover with the Fantasy theme, since it is referring to how Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs left Lambert waiting in the dark for him to come back and finish the collection.

The way I assign comics to theme crossovers is quite specific. If there are characters from multiple themes present, then the strip qualifies as a crossover and gets labelled with both themes. However, in many cases after such a blatant crossover strip there are one or two strips that follow the story of one theme, while only making a reference back to the other theme (such as in this case). When that happens, I like to not assign the referred-to theme as a crossover label.

The reason is that the way I think of crossovers is that the theme label should only apply if the strip is necessary to the ongoing story of that theme. In this case, the fact that Death of I.O.F. has been demoted and therefore won't get to finish collecting Lambert is not important to the ongoing story of the Fantasy theme.

Put another way, if you read the Fantasy theme as a story in itself, without all of the intervening strips in other themes, you don't really need to know why I.O.F. appeared, stuck Lambert in a dark place, and then didn't return later. It actually adds to the Fantasy theme to have some air of mystery around the event.

I know that some new readers coming into Irregular Webcomic! for the first time go through the archives theme-by-theme, rather than chronologically. Such a reader may read the Fantasy theme first, as a self-contained story. This reader may then go on later to read the Death theme, as its own self-contained story. But when this is done, the reader will notice that the threads of the two stories interweave, and that motivations and reasons for what happens in one story are revealed in the other.

For long-time readers who are used to jumping from theme to theme each day, this makes no real difference. But to a new reader who chooses to go through the archives in that manner, I hope and believe that my choice of theme assignment adds to the experience of discovery, helping to reveal the structure of what I'm doing here in a way that is very different to how long-term readers are absorbing it.

And that's why this strip is not labelled as a Fantasy theme crossover.


2016-08-01 Rerun commentary: This assignment of themes has become much more pertinent with the recent Kickstarter I ran to print a collection of the Fantasy theme comics. In particular, that print collection will not include this strip. This strip will appear in a presently hypothetical future "Death" collection (if my publishing goals are fulfilled), where it will make a lot more sense in a storytelling context.

By the way, if you missed the Kickstarter, I am having a bunch of additional copies of the book printed (because I get a better deal on printing nice round numbers). The additional copies will go on sale after the Kickstarter backers have theirs. I'll announce it here in the news box when that happens.

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