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January 14, 2013
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The Edge of Forever by jbwarner86 The Edge of Forever by jbwarner86
I had another one of my unexpected brainstorms yesterday that led me to consider a massive shake-up to Forever 16. The so-called "gimmick" of the strip is spelled out right there in the title - it's a floating timeline, so no matter what year I set a story in, the main characters are always the same age. Doesn't matter if it's 1990 or 2013, they stay 16 forever.

But see, here's the thing - my characters stay the same age, and I keep getting older. In light of my 26th birthday last month, and all the unpleasant emotional grapples that come from being 20-something, single, and underemployed, I find myself having a harder and harder time identifying with high school characters. I still want to write for Joel and Michelle and Aaron, but I feel like I've burned myself out on story ideas for teenagers.

So I got the idea to pull a timeskip. I thought of aging everybody up five years to see how they handle early adulthood. I redesigned everyone ever-so-slightly to make them look like young adults - a little bit taller, slightly smaller facial features to make them look less childish, and so on. Obviously, with their high school years behind them, everyone has to find some source of gainful employment or higher education, so here's what I've come up with:

- Joel (age 21) hosts his own video-based movie review website, in the vein of That Guy With the Glasses or the Agony Booth. He doesn't make quite enough money to strike out on his own, though, so he's still living with his parents.
- Michelle (21) is still dating Joel, as well as plugging away at earning her degree in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota. She designed Joel's website, and to earn extra money, she works in the Walmart electronics department on weekends.
- Aaron (21) is attempting to rocket Westworld to superstardom, despite the fact that the band still isn't very well-known outside the Twin City area. He works at a record store and plugs the band every chance he gets. He's also still chronically dateless, though he does get lucky every once in a while.
- Steve (21) works at a comic book shop, where he sells his indie Hammerhead comics from the counter. He also contributes to Joel's website.
- Jocelyn (21) is an apprentice at a tattoo parlor. She and Steve are living together in an apartment in St. Paul.
- Kendra (21) is taking art classes at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul and supports herself through DeviantArt commissions.
- Lindsay (22) is still mooching off her wealthy parents, having never worked a day in her life and trying to get famous by auditioning for reality shows.
- Abby (18) received a scholarship at National American University in Minnetonka, going for a Bachelor of Science degree, and she's much more social and self-confident than she was in high school.

Other characters, like Katy, Ashleigh, Vince, etc., I'm still figuring out what they'd be up to. I'd also be dropping a few characters - Principal Mulroney, obviously, would no longer be Steve's primary motivation for mischief. Frieda would be gone as well, probably having gone to another college elsewhere in the country. And as much as I'm sure it pains some people, I don't know if I'd be bringing back Derek and Shawn either. (I've had an astonishingly low amount of ideas for them.) And of course, the name of the strip can't be "Forever 16" if they're not 16 anymore. I was thinking of calling it "Underemployed", but I'm not terribly gung-ho on that yet. (As I've said before, titles are hard.)

So clearly, this is a big change. But ultimately, the spirit of the strip would remain more or less the same - snarky jabs at pop culture and current events. It just tackles these things through the eyes of characters that are a little more grown up. Before I invest a lot of time and effort into reworking my comic, I'd like to get people's opinion. What would you think of seeing Joel and friends as up-and-coming young adults?

EDIT: To clarify, this isn't a replacement for Forever 16. It's more like a spinoff. I still have tons of ideas for Forever 16 that I've had in mind for three or four years and haven't put down on paper yet, but coming up with new ones was proving to be difficult.
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:iconyoungngifted:
Youngngifted Featured By Owner May 10, 2013
Man, I like your art style so much ^^
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:iconsonicgirldreamer:
SonicGirlDreamer Featured By Owner May 1, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love your style. :)
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:iconseverflame:
Severflame Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2013
I think I can identify with the spin-off more, but I'm glad that Forever 16 will still continue.:)
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:iconultraviolet-oasis:
Ultraviolet-Oasis Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013
Six or seven thumbs up. Courageous for sure to go beyond past borders...
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:iconctw36:
CTW36 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
When I found out that the old gang was growing up, I felt such a pang of bittersweetness. Dare I say, that in the years that I've been in DA and read your comic, I've grown up, or shall I say older, with them.

And in seeing them take on the challenges that only the young can face, with new responsibilities and new rewards all around them, I was struck by the utter bravery shown between both the comic's characters and their creator.

You're doing something to your characters that I haven't seen much of in a donkey's age...

You are allowing them and the story to grow, to expand to new, uncharted territories.

To evolve.

I have seen so many stories on television, like Family Guy, or read so many comics, like Spider-man, in which the creators or writers are so terrified of letting the story and the characters change and find their own voice, or their own strength, that it borders on tragic.

But here, you realized that as you are evolving, in a manner of speaking, so must your "children". The maturity of that, the love and willingness to cross that next threshold and take the gang with you to see what's next out there, to me, is nothing short of inspiring.

I think that there is much potential in your spin-off, with the gang giving voice and opinion to the world as it is today with the same spirit and snarky verve that they entered the world with.

There are comics that have that subversive, youthful attitude, that have something to say and have strong characters to say it. I'm proud to say that this evolution(which might not be bad working title for your comic) of Forever 16 will be in very good company.:)
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:iconsupersonichero:
supersonichero Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ooh, nice spinoff idea! But I wouldn't go with the title Underemployed. If memory serves, I think there's a show on MTV called that already.
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:iconheartlessslayer:
HeartlessSlayer Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013
For some reason Jocelyn there reminds me of Harley Quinn XD
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:iconzerozero204:
Zerozero204 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2013
I'm against time-jumps. But it would be fun to use it as an excuse to slip Jozzy some LSD. Having the core group join the lifelong fight to squeeze a daily wage out of the world might strain even JB's mischief-making powers.
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:iconshareyourworldwide:
shareyourworldwide Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
The idea sounds good, I wonder what you'll come up with.
I agree with you a lot, titles are hard. Like names. I had an idea for a title for your show, but it slipped my mind in nanoseconds as many things do.
I'll let you know if I remember it again.
Reply
:iconkinggigasmon:
Kinggigasmon Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Gotta say, I'm REALLY liking the new character designs! Glad to read that Abby will be more confident with herself! She really is a likeable character. But I wonder would she still have her acne at 18? Or are those freckles? :? I doubt Ashleigh could be developed much, though. No offense, but she seems a bit two-dimensional and without any defining traits.

Ha, I love Steve's goatee, there. And do I spy a "Batman Beyond" shirt on him? :wow: Not too keen on Jocelyn's hairstyle, though. Reminds me too much of that lady on NCIS. :iconewwplz:

One thing I wonder about: in this spinoff, would there be a floating timeline for this age period like with "Forever 16"? Like, will they be discussing a trend or pop culture icon from one year and then be talking about one from three years earlier? Or will the flow of time be linear?

P.S., please don't feel too bad about getting older. I'm older than you by a few months (if I understand your description) and I feel that my characters have the capacity to grow with me in traits and complexity. I'm glad you're making this step to update your OCs, because trying to make them fit a period their author no longer feels a connection to can be stressful. If anything, you should be happy to explore the Westworld gang's development! :D

P.P.S., I still think Shawn and Derek have potential, but that's just me... :P
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:iconbarehandmaster:
BarehandMaster Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The only constant is Change... therefore I say yes!
Reply
:iconrbl-m1a2tanker:
RBL-M1A2Tanker Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
I like the time skipped look for them. And the explanations of what their backgrounds would be make perfect sense.
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:iconson-void:
Son-Void Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I have a feeling that Lindsay would not last long in the real world...
Reply
:iconmissluna-kitsune:
MISSluna-kitsune Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
I have a few concerns with this I know you can do a lot with a story line with twenty something year olds but when you start with a storyline of high schoolers you may run into issues of things like other series Have may I suggest doing this in maybe a series of one shots within the forever sixteen storyline the character designs and future story lines are cool and seem promising but like I said maybe you should do some one shots within the original storyline or something like that
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
I am thinking of doing it as a series of short stories instead of as a comic strip. Seems like every new series I undertake becomes a comic strip, and I want to try something different this time. :)
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:iconalceon112:
Alceon112 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
One more thing, i dont know about this, but to me instead of becoming older, Jocelyn becomes more younger with that twin tails...well probably because i've watched too many anime character with girl with double pig-tails hairstyle, and mostly young looking, i want her hair looks a little bit back like old Jocelyn maybe a little longer and the end of the hair is spikier
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:iconkuruttra:
Kuruttra Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I like, cant wait to see more of this and THBKA YOU for keeping Joel and Michelle together. I love this Pair, even though I envy Joel. Lucky Guy *sigh*
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:iconkuruttra:
Kuruttra Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thbka? Ok weird day, Typos all over the Place, I meant Thank you.
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:iconyeldarb86:
Yeldarb86 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
A strip about twentysomethings has plenty of potential.

One thing I would suggest is an arc to close out Forever 16, at least where everyone graduates high school, so you can ease them into their next phase. Brooke McEldowny did this with 9 Chickweed Lane: The main character, Edda started out as a Catholic school pre-teen back in 1993, and is now an independent twentysomething about to get married.

As for the F16 characters, it's cool to see that Michelle still wears a hat. :)
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:icontorquesmacky:
torquesmacky Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
Would've been nice if you'd discussed this with your publisher first, before posting it HERE.....just saying.
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:icontaigan:
Taigan Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
My first worry on reading this is thinking about all the TV shows I know that faced big hiccups transitioning to post-high school settings ( Buffy, Smallville, etc.) The primary problem being that the writers had to do some serious logic gymnastics to explain why all the old cast are still together.

Reading your treatment, I can see you've given that some thought. But there's another concern. There's a reason why there are so many comic strips about high school and so few about 20's age. For all its trials, high school is a pretty homogenous experience. Pick up any teen comic and you'll see familiar situations and characters. But college age starts to be very user-dependent. Of course it can be funny. But that humor may not be as accessible or universal as high-school experiences.
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:iconjadthedog:
JadtheDog Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
I think more people will be able to identify the characters to themselves this way.
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:iconcowboycrocket:
CowboyCrocket Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Student
Man, it feels like everyone is going through changes with their art projects. I' ll say the same thing I told MDetector5, I hope you get things figured out with your stuff.
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:iconmetalheadfan2500:
MetalHeadFan2500 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
I am interested in this approach, its like those Archie comics
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:iconlimeth:
LimeTH Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Student Digital Artist
An unexpected change, but certainty a welcome one! It'd be interesting to see what comes from this.
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:icondoodley:
Doodley Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
I never considered that your characters would grow up. Since your comic always focused on pop culture in a way, it always felt good to have them as teens because they're more in tune with pop culture then adults are. But that's just my opinion.
They do all look cool, though!
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:iconalceon112:
Alceon112 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
18 years old abby is beautiful...Wait a moment, she is 18? in 5 years timeskip? Does that mean during Forever 16 strip she is 13 years old?
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:iconmaxvision92:
maxvision92 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
As long as it doesn't turn out like Funky Winkerbean or For Better or for Worse, I'm fine.
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:iconjbwarner86:
jbwarner86 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
Oh yeah, the main goal is still to be funny. I can't stand drama strips.
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:iconmaxvision92:
maxvision92 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Me neither. DEEP loathing for those "Once-funny strip now shows people trapped in the endless morass of grayness with no means of escape" strips. Every time I glimpse at them, I have the desire to see someone burn the entire town down.
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:iconvictor639514:
victor639514 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I honestly think these are very well layed out ideas you put here. :D It would most certainly be nice to see them in motion for your characters. But again, take your time and remember to stay cool in life. :pat:
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