As it’s October, it’s hard to get away from the long ramping up toward Halloween at the end of the month. I had someone ask me last week if I could direct him to some webcomics that might be appropriate for this time of year, something in the horror genre. I’m not a big fan of the genre, personally, so I don’t have a long list of webcomics at the ready that might qualify, but I pulled out a few. I tried to make sure I had a bit of range in what I was sending him: some were more suspense pieces, some were dramas that happened to include ghosts and hauntings, some were comedies that featured a cast of werewolves, vampires, and zombies.
But one I wanted to send over and couldn’t was actually non-fiction. It was a biography, and dealt with real people who believed in and practiced occultism. I thought it would make for an interesting mix to include some real life material among the clearly fictional pieces. The webcomic ended a few years ago, and it took a little searching to land on some search terms that might lead me to the comic itself instead of just a straight biography or actual photographs. The webcomic, as it turns out, was entitled: The Marvel: A Biography of Jack Parsons.
It had been a few years since it ended, as I said, so I wanted to scan through it again before sending the link on. The problem, however, is that the site where it had been hosted—webcomicsnation.com—no longer exists. I suspect it fell by the wayside not long after it’s founder, Joey Manley, passed away in 2013.
But what that also means is The Marvel is no longer online. I looked around, checking the creators’ personal websites, and there are only a handful of images there. Mostly previews. The Internet Archive doesn’t even have that much because of how the Webcomics Nation’s servers were set up.
The story was originally created in an environment when people who actually made money on webcomics were few and far between. You could probably have counted them all on one hand. No one had quite yet figured out a reasonably repeatable formula for making webcomics profitable. (Indeed, Webcomics Nation as a whole was an experiment to try exactly that.) Which means that The Marvel was never printed either. You can’t read the story online, and you can’t read the story in print. Until and unless creators Richard Carbonneau and Robin Simon Ng revisit the story in some manner, you simply do not have the option to read it, period.
There are hints of it still floating around. Some references to the strip on Boing Boing and Wikipedia, with links that point to where it used to be. There’s a handful of pages of art that were used to promote it on those sites, as well as some previews on the creators’ sites as I said. But nothing remotely resembling the complete story. Is it ultimately that important that you needed to have read this one webcomic? Of course not. But it does point to the emphemeral nature of the web; we often hear that everything will live on forever online, but that’s not completely true. You never know when something might suddenly vanish with scarcely a trace—like a ghost at Halloween!