Almost a month ago, Danielle Corsetto ended her long-running web comic, Girls with Slingshots. According to this post, Ms. Corsetto had been planning the ending for almost a year. She knew what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it, and she felt that it was time to move on from the comic’s current format. She also assured the readers that this wasn’t the end of Jamie and Hazel and that we should simply think of this as an indefinite sabbatical.
I, like many readers, was shocked to hear that Girls with Slingshots would soon be ending. I’ve been reading it almost as long as Ms. Corsetto’s been writing it (I think I started fall of 2005 or spring of 2006) and while the subject matter and the way it’s treated have occasionally made me feel squeamish (Oh, Hazel, you and your weekend of intense jacking off.), I still really loved the comic. It was funny, well-drawn, consistently-updated, had an amazing cast of characters (including one of the very few openly asexual characters in comics – or anywhere), and kept me entertained. It was also really nice to read about twenty-somethings trying to find themselves as I was a twenty-something trying to find myself. I surprised myself with how personally and how hard I took the news of its ending.
Since then, I’ve had some time to adjust. I’ve continued my daily habit of checking for updates and have completely re-read all the comics. However, coming to the ending again I have to admit that I feel dissatisfied. While Ms. Corsetto says she planned this ending far in advance, it feels rushed and non-sequitur [SPOILER ALERT]. Hazel goes to give up Goopy Kitten, who had been randomly popping up every time I forgot he existed, and then suddenly decides to see her dad. She remembers that he’s a weird, creepy asshole, goes home, her car dies, and the possible love of her life Zach shows up to take her to a gathering of friends so they can learn about a baby that was just born. The end.
I dislike ending on the dad meeting and the reconciliation between exes. I know it’s not my choice, and I admit that I was caught up in the bathos of the script the first time around, but now I can’t help but feel dissatisfied. Hazel’s dad played almost no role in the ten years the comic was around, but in the last year or so Ms. Corsetto starting writing in some references such as these two from her mom and Jamie’s weak comparison of Hazel to him. However, by giving him the final arc in the story, Ms. Corsetto places him as the cornerstone of Hazel’s entire life. We have to start re-evaluating Hazel’s actions and attitude in relation to him and how he treated his family. We have to psychoanalyze Hazel and wonder if her desire not to get married (which is perfectly valid and a great piece of her personality) is related to how her dad treated her mom and if she’s going to treat Vincent the same way or pull a complete 180. Hazel gets subsumed by this archetypal figure of the Negligent Dad and loses a lot of her agency – especially since she’s going to write her book about him and this meeting. Hazel writing a serious book with serious feelings about relationships? I can’t imagine it.
Then Zach deus ex machinas just as Hazel needs him, and Hazel – who apparently has become much more emotionally mature in the space of 24 hours – tells him that she loves him and misses him and wants him in her life again. I have no problem with this reconciliation (Their breakup and subsequent lack of contact always struck me as weak and unlikely.), but I don’t like how easy it is. I don’t like that Hazel didn’t struggle to make this confession. I don’t like that neither of them actively sought each other out. I don’t like that these two have been pining for each other for two years, have finally reconciled, will probably have some sort of relationship in the future, and I don’t get to see it. I want something especially if we’re going to get a new Hazel who will actually talk about important things instead of just trying to sex, joke, or drink her way out of it. It feels so cheap and anticlimactic not to let the reader see that.
I hate to say all this because, contrary to my bitching, I really love this web comic. I really do, and I’m going to keep following Ms. Corsetto’s work wherever it takes her. I love her art, her humor, her characters, and the way you can see her grow as a creator. I definitely want to be along for the ride, and I absolutely wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings with my criticism.
That being said, I really hope she feels up to working with Jamie and Hazel again soon. They deserve so much more than Zach and Hazel just walking off into the sunset. At the very least, it should be Jamie and Hazel doing so because at its core, Girls with Slingshots was about friendships in general and theirs in particular. For me, the real ending came at strip #2003 when Hazel finally admitted how much she loves and needs Jamie. That’s what I think Hazel should write her book about – how one woman’s friend helped her get through some horrible and hysterical times. Everything else was just filler.
Until Ms. Corsetto returns to the Girls with Slingshots world, I’ve just got to say my good-byes and move on. So long, Jamie, thanks for being so bubbly, silly, sweet, and honest. Bye, Hazel, thanks for being you (even when you were a complete dick). I hope I’ll see you soon.