Why I Liked the End of HIMYM, But Not the Finale

April 4th, 2014, 10:12 am

Judging by the reactions on the internet, I’m clearly in the minority. There are people who think it’s the worst finale since Seinfeld. I don’t think it was.

HIMYM remains one of my favorite sitcoms, favorite shows, of all time. When it was on, it was clever, touching and funny. The Three Day Storm never leaves me with a dry eye, no matter how often I’ve seen it. The Robin Sparkles episodes kept getting funnier. I just adored it.

In crafting the finale, though, they set out a pretty herculean task. To make nine seasons of build up come to a satisfying conclusion. There, they didn’t do quite as well.

How I Met Your Mother tried to do the bold thing. They created a sitcom that tried to do things different. Characters didn’t always get the happy ending. Nothing turns out like you expect. Heck, the creators tried to make the gang sit at different tables at their bar until the realities of making a sitcom intruded and they needed to have a regular table.

Lily never became a successful artist. Marshall never became an environmental lawyer. And his father never lived to see his grandson. Ted and Barney were never the same after Barney started dating Robin. Things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to or the way they wanted to.

Tragedy was always part of the show. The Mother (yeah, I know her name is Tracy, but she’ll always be The Mother to me) lost her first true love early on. We already mentioned Marshall’s dad. Robin finding out she could never have kids, even when she didn’t want them, was heartbreaking. It was woven into the fabric of the show.

So, it feels organic to me that Ted’s story includes The Mother dying too young and leaving Ted alone. It’s not out of left field. They foreshadowed it this year and even last year in The Time Travelers episode where Ted gives an impassioned speech to an unseen Mother about how, if he had those forty days extra he’d want to spend them with her.

(Full disclosure: That’s when I figured out The Mother would die. I say this not to show off how smart I am, but because I know me well enough to think that part of why I liked the end was the satisfaction of being proven right. But seeing the bad coming, like the countdown when Marshall’s dad died, helps you prepare for it, too.)

But, while I liked where the show ended, I wasn’t thrilled with the last episode.

It reminded me of that one episode of Moonlighting where they run out of time and budget and Dave and Maddie wind up telling Whoopi Goldberg and Judd Nelson how the episode was supposed to end. The last hour was a series of vignettes that touch on the high points quickly, and as such it’s hard to get the true impact of them.

We’re left trying to intellectually fill in emotional gaps, and that’s always unsatisfying. I fully believe that Ted never looked back once he met The Mother. He never pined for Robin or wondered what could have been. When they met, she was his everything. But, one hour of seeing them as a couple isn’t enough to make feel that.

We spent nine years with the gang as they were, and no matter how good Cristin Milioti was, and believe me she was great, we’re just not going to love her the way we really needed to.

I’m okay with Ted winding up with Robin. I’ve heard that The Mother is the consolation prize until he can wind up with Robin, but that’s not so. If anything, Robin is the consolation prize to Ted for losing his true love. But true love, that’s the thing…

The show played with so many tropes, that I think it was also playing with the “There’s only one person for everyone.” There’s certainly a right person for everyone, but everyone doesn’t stay the same. There’s no way Ted and Robin would have ever worked as a couple. Ted wanted a family way too much. Robin wanted her career way too much. But neither the Ted nor Robin at the end of the show is the same one from the beginning of the show. They’ve achieved things and they’re different people.

Change has always been part of the show. Ted even says it to Robin during her moment of crisis before the wedding. “I’m not that guy anymore.” None of them are the same. Marshall realizes that environmental law isn’t where he wants to make a difference. Ted becomes a teacher to share his love of architecture. The Ted that meets The Mother is the one that would have been blissfully happy to stay with her forever. But because he loses her, he’s a different person.

There were things I didn’t like about the ending, most of them with Barney. It’s so obvious that Robin is his gateway to changing to be a different person that it’s painful to see him try to convince himself that he likes being the Old Barney through the last hour until the birth of his daughter. In fact, I would have preferred that he and Robin had never gotten married at all. It’s the biggest seam where I think they were finding new things to do when the series kept going.

I didn’t like Ted’s wedding, or lack thereof, either. He seems like too much a traditionalist to skip out on having a big ceremony. It’s okay that it wasn’t a big grand one (thought it probably should have been) but it served to make things feel small. I think they were trying to make the wedding the thing that brings Robin back, but there are other things they could have found to make that work.

I wanted to see more of what happened to The Mother. Her death was too quick. And from the construct, Ted probably doesn’t need to tell his kids what she died of, but we needed to know. We needed to feel Ted’s pain so it wasn’t an afterthought, or one we needed to intellectually fill in.

But there were lots of things I did like. I like that we found out about nearly everyone from the show, and that they went to the trouble of shooting images of everyone we’d seen in this season sitting in a pew watching the wedding. It made it feel like the moment it should have been.

Of course, that’s what part of the problem was. A year build up to a marriage that, ultimately, fails and becomes an obstacle. Meanwhile, Ted’s wedding is introduced and executed in a minute. I wanted to feel the same way about Ted and The Mother’s wedding as I did about Robin and Barney’s.

And the biggest thing I liked was that they executed the plan they had nine years ago. And it never occurred to me that the kids would participate in the story rather than just listen to it. They’re the ones who tell Ted that it’s okay to go after Robin. And they’re the ones who figure out what the story is really about. It’s not Ted trying to convince the kids as some people have said, and as I suspected it might be, it’s about the kids realizing what the story really means before Ted does.

The ending should have been bigger. It should have been longer. There are a lot of little things that I would have done differently. But their failing wasn’t the ending itself but how they chose to tell that ending.

It’s not everything I wanted, but I’m so happy I went on the journey that was How I Met Your Mother. No misstep at the end is going to take away my enjoyment and love of the show. For that, I give it the highest of high fives.

My Fluttershy/Zecora Cover!

February 27th, 2014, 1:42 pm

Remember I said that I was writing the fifth issue of My Little Pony: Friends Forever? Well, that’s not all. I’ll be doing one of the alternate covers for the issue, too. BEHOLD WITH YOUR EYES!

I Choo Choo Choose Conventions!

February 26th, 2014, 10:41 am

I’m back from Chattanooga and ConNooga!

It was my first time at the show, and it was a lot of fun. It’s a little show, but it’s one that has a lot of character. You can tell the influence of it being so close to DragonCon, too. There was a definite party track, as I could see outside my hotel room balcony on Friday and Saturday, and the costuming was exquisite!

So you’re prepeared for the 2014 con season, the hot (or cool) trend in costumes is Frozen. Lots of Frozen. If I could get stock in a magenta cape factory, I would be a rich, rich man this year.

I did a couple of kids’ track panels, too. Both my "How to draw My Little Pony" and "Create a Superhero" panel were really well attended. The kids were great and they all did really well. It’s one of my true honors to help foster new talent, if even if such a small way.

I have to thank the Berns, the family who were my handlers for most of the trip and made sure I got to and from the airport and, when I left it at home, made sure I had toothpaste, too. They were even nice enought to take me to see Ruby Falls before I left. It was the coolest cave I’ve ever been to that didn’t have a giant penny and a dinosaur in it. Todd, the con director, treated me really well, too. Check out what was featured on the Saturday badges.

Chattanooga was a nice town. I got the chance to walk around, try some restaurants and Clumper’s Ice Cream, and then walk some more. And I stayed at the Choo Choo Hotel, which is the site of the famous train station, now converted to a pretty neat looking hotel. Some of the railroad cars have been converted to hotel rooms, diners, and more.

Now, I’m going to bask in the two weeks I have off before I have a hat trick of shows in March. Please come see me!

I’m Writing Ponies Again!

February 19th, 2014, 12:12 pm

It’s in the newly-released March Previews, so I can finally talk about it! I’m returning to writing Ponies!

I’m writing issue #5 of My Little Pony: Friends Forever, which is kind of like Pony Brave and the Bold. My issue teams up Fluttershy and Zecora, which seemed like a great idea until I wrote my fourth page of rhyming dialogue. Still tons of fun. Here’s the official solicitation:

Fluttershy and Zecora take the spotlight in the new fan-favorite series! Fluttershy wakes up one day to find that all of her animal friends can talk to her! But what secret are they hiding? It will be up to everyone’s favorite rhyming zebra to determine the nature of this strange occurrence!

I am doing one of the covers, which I’ll show as soon as I can. In the meantime, Amy Mebberson did a killer cover that I can show. Wow, does that look good!

It’s order code MAR140390. It should be out a couple days before my birthday. You know, if you’re looking for something to get me, a crazy stack of orders wouldn’t be the worse thing.

Donut Be Too Hasty

February 10th, 2014, 10:45 am

Yesterday, I stopped at my local Dunkin Donuts to bring some coffee back to the house and fulfill my hunter-gatherer instincts. I had to get up a little earlier than I would have liked to get to church, and it was particularly snowy and sloppy, all of which may have grumpified my mood a bit. But as I turned into the parking lot, which has a weird little curly drive to get into the drive through line, this blue truck with South Carolina plates cut me off and hopped in front of me.

I’m generally a pretty calm guy. I try not to sweat the small stuff. But for some reason, this just burned me. I yelled some things in the car. When his rear wheel drive started to fishtail, I may have even rooted for him to smack into the big yellow pole. (That didn’t happen.) And look, I fully realize that this person cost me all of three extra minutes. In the grand scheme of things, this was nothing.

But, when I got to the window with my money out, the lady working there waved me off. "The guy in the truck paid for you. He realized he cut you off and felt bad about it."

It totally changed my morning. It was such a nice thing to do and shows the value of the little things. I don’t think I would have thought of doing what he did, even if I realized that I’d made the same mistake. This gentleman raised the bar. I hope I keep it in mind the next time I do something stupid.

Saluting the Comic-Con Ticket Warriors

February 9th, 2014, 10:43 am

Saturday was the big rush for Comic-Con tickets. I appreciate these people like you wouldn’t believe.

It’s easy to tease and make the Hunger Games references and watch from a distance. There’s certainly a place for that. But the thing I try to keep in mind is what these fans have to go through to attend the show. Heck, it’s hard enough for me to get a hotel and a guest badge, and I’m an exhibitor.

I have a very charmed life. Every day, I get to wake up, usually whenever the heck I feel like it, kiss my sweetie, and then put on some awesomely geeky t-shirt, pour some coffee in an equally geeky mug, and draw things and tell stories. I don’t have to wear a tie or go to an office or have to ask for time off to do a convention. The freedom I have is largely because my industry and I have fans who are willing to support our work, buy our products, and jump through the flaming hoops to attend these conventions.

So I just wanted to take a minute and say a big "thank you" to these Comic-Con warriors.

(Also, it was cool to see my little cartoon knocked out the morning of the big ticket rush show up on Robot6 with attribution. Thanks, guys!)

Zecora Premium Commission

February 7th, 2014, 9:21 am

Here’s the second of my runs at doing a premium commission: Zecora. I really like the way these watercolor pieces are coming.

Zecora’s kind of a favorite of mine. It’s probably the Z thing.


I’ll be at Indiana Comic Con with a new print!

February 6th, 2014, 1:19 pm

This year I’ll be making my first trip to the Indiana Comic Con. I’m looking forward to it, both to experience a new show and to see some old friends. And, since it’s a new place for me to visit, I’ve done another new con print. These things are expanding a bit, aren’t they?

You know, I’d love to do a Sydney one. Hint hint.

New for 2014: Premium Commissions

January 31st, 2014, 9:53 am

I want to try some new things at my 2014 conventions. One of them is this: a new "premium" commission. I want to take a limited number of much more complicated pieces, colored in watercolor rather than marker. I’m only going to do a couple for each show, and you can either place an order or select out of the ones that I already have done.

To start, I’m trying some My Little Pony stuff. I draw the ponies a lot, but I haven’t had much of an opportunity to play with the backgrounds and those are a lot of fun. Also, I haven’t done watercolors in a long time, so it’s nice to start refreshing that skill. Here’s Twilight Sparkle as a premium commission. I’ve got a Zecora one on the drawing board that I’ll be showing soon, too. Both of them will be available at Connooga next month.

If you’re interested in getting one, give me a shout and let me know. I’ll certainly do a few through the mail. For these, 9×12 in full color, one character in an environment, I’m going to charge $125.

Coming Soon: The Complete Love and Capes!

January 28th, 2014, 12:24 pm

The news broke on Twitter last week, but I wanted to officially announce that there will be a Complete Love and Capes collection from IDW this summer. It’s going to include all 24 issues of the series. The only new story page will be the one-page "Hostess" ad I did with Just Jenn (which is the only post-baby story so far). I’m going to put some rarely-seen things in the back matter, including the complete collection of Love and Capes con prints, art done by some comics pros that haven’t been seen before, all the t-shirt designs and more.

It’s going to be quite the package of goodness. You can preorder the book on Amazon here.

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