“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

This is not the end of Dodge the Bullet. But it is. This is the last strip of the Rick Dodge main storyline. But not exactly the last strip. Let me explain.

Why? I’m not tired of doing it. I love the characters. I love drawing them. I love the insults and the banter. This has been an incredible experience and a part of me doesn’t want it to end.

The other part? Is the writer. And the writer in me always intended for this to end. And for this to end in this way. When I started this webcomic it occurred to me that one of the advantages of having archives was that you could do one story broken up into strips. A story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

An end.

Everything I wanted to say has been said and said to the best of my ability.

The Teddy Roosevelt quote that opened this post was the inspiration when I started drawing the strip but soon after I realized I didn’t want to tell that story. A critic who snipes because he can’t do what artists can do is a story that’s been told enough. It’s a fine story, not criticizing that story, but it occurred to me that a critic who actually was better than who he was criticizing hadn’t been done (to my knowledge).

That was interesting.

Who was he?

Why was he a critic and not a musician?

What problems did he have?

What damage?

Most importantly; how could he overcome those problems when those problems inherently had to be internal?

His enemy had to be himself.

Stagefright? No. He’s on stage as a critic. That wasn’t it.

Ego? No. He pretends to have an ego.

Arrogance? No. He is arrogant but I didn’t want to tell a story of a man who thought the audience was beneath him.

Finally I settled on a winnowing of choices. A man of destiny who believes in free will so strongly that he denies his own destiny in order to forge his own path.

That was interesting.

Elvis was already baked into the strip but hadn’t made his first appearance when I realized where I was taking the story but he fit in perfectly thematically. He was the man of destiny who fulfilled his destiny.

As was John Lennon.

The musicians who most captured the imaginations of their generations. Elvis-the fifties. John-the sixties. Jim Morrison-the seventies. Michael Jackson-the eighties. Kurt Cobain-the nineties. Eminem-The aughts. Taylor Swift? Maybe? The tens.

But that maybe was interesting: There wasn’t really anybody who’d captured the musical attention of the nation since Eminem. There were popular artists but nobody who was defining. There was a hole.

A Rick Dodge shaped hole.

A critic who was destined to be the biggest musical star of his generation.

Over the next while I’m going to be going over a lot of thoughts on characters and stories and how they tied into or illustrated Dodge’s character. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while but I knew I would accidentally give some endings away, some of the surprises and after building them for so long I couldn’t bring myself to risk it.

Now, I said this is the end of the main storyline, and it is, but it’s not the end of the strip. You know that thing at the end of movies where they tell you where the characters end up in the future? I wanted to do that but I didn’t want to just tell you, I wanted to show you.

So, for the next month or so, I’m going to do strips from the future as if it had carried on going. You’ll see where your favorite characters ended up and hopefully have a laugh or two along the way.

First up; Geri.

One more thing. When I say thank you for reading? I mean it with all sincerity. It has been a privilege to have been allowed to share this work with all of you as I created it and I appreciate every single one of you.

Thank you for reading,

Yours, Steve