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Submitted on
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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Youngngifted Featured By Owner May 10, 2013
Man, I like your art style so much ^^
SonicGirlDreamer Featured By Owner May 1, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love your style. :)
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.:)
Ultraviolet-Oasis Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013
Six or seven thumbs up. Courageous for sure to go beyond past borders...
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.:)
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.
HeartlessSlayer Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013
For some reason Jocelyn there reminds me of Harley Quinn XD
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.
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.
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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