Just last week, Paul Southworth posted that he was ending Ugly Hill, with the final strip to hit sometime in the near future. As an avid reader of the misadventures of Hastings Kilgore and all the other misfit monsters of Ugly Hill, I felt it my duty to get to the bottom of this sudden, unexpected announcement. The following is my conversation with Paul:
Digital Strips: Did it hurt at all to submit that post announcing the end of Ugly Hill?
Paul Southworth: Of course! All those maladjusted little tools are like my family at this point. I knew it was coming for a long time, though. It was just a matter of me getting up the cajones to go through with it. It’s hard to quit something like this, to conclude the stories of characters you’ve been working with for years. It’s like they become part of your brain, and they’re always back there, whispering ideas to you about what they want to do next.
But sometimes you just get the itch to try something else, to expand your horizons, and if there’s nothing in particular holding you down to a project (like supporting your family, for instance), it’s hard to resist that impulse, and it makes little sense to limit yourself to it other than gooey sentimentality. The project you’re working on will become stale, repetitive, and passionless if you’re always thinking about doing something else. I didn’t want that to happen to Ugly Hill, so I decided to end it on my own terms instead of letting it just sputter out, like I did with my last strip.
I always regretted not giving Krazy Larry a proper ending. People occasionally ask me about it, about when I’m going back to it, and of course, the answer is “never”. I don’t think I could stomach TWO unfinished stories on my conscience.
DS: Is it bad that I was silently joyous over the news of Kilgore’s mother’s passing (pictured, below)?
PS: Oh man, I’ve been waiting to kill that bitch for YEARS. Celebrate away!
Funnily enough, I had originally planned to have the entire cast crushed by a rogue meteor just as they were about to attain true happiness, ending the strip, but then I thought: “Oh man, I haven’t killed Hastings’ mother yet!”, which is something I’d always planned to do. I also realized, first of all, that the readers would probably murder me if I ended things that suddenly (even though I maintain that it would have been funnier),Â and secondly that I would probably regret not giving the cast proper closure. So I decided to buckle down and give everyone the ending I felt they deserved for sticking around so long.
DS: Do you have the script written all the way through the final panel?
PS: Just about! What isn’t typed out yet is certainly in my head, I just have to find a funny way to get it on the page. But yes, it’s all planned out, and has been in one form or another for quite some time. I’ve been kind of building to it in a roundabout way for years. Additionally, you’ll be happy to know that, as of this writing, 90% of the Ugly Hill finale takes place in a SINGLE ROOM. If that doesn’t get you people to read it, well, maybe I’ve critically misread my audience.
DS: Considering the great depth and humor that the characters have exuded in the last year or so, do you see this as a case of going out on a high note?
PS: Thank you! When people say that the characters have depth, it makes me happy. Other than “be funny”, that’s the single most important thing to me: to create characters that seem real. Oddly enough, the easiest way to create a connection between the reader and the characters is to make them of the same SPECIES, but so far I haven’t been able to crack that threshold. Maybe I’m just working my way up to it. Animals —> Monsters —> Humans? Only my hairdresser knows for sure.
As far as “going out on a high note”, I can only hope! I guess time will tell. If not a commercial high note, then hopefully a critical one.
DS: Though there have been a multitude of storylines throughout the years, centering on various characters, the strip’s main protagonist is Kilgore. Can you tell us who is featured in the final panel of the strip?
PS: Who’s NOT going to be in it? *WINK*
DS: Paul Southworth just winked at me. (*crosses off item on bucket list*) Ok, so is your next project another webcomic or will you be venturing into other realms of publishing?
PS: A webcomic, for sure. I’ve got about four ideas on the burner right now, stuff I’ve been wanting to do for years, but never had the time. Plus something else possibly cooking that I can’t talk about yet. Some of it might be limited to single stories rather than an ongoing webcomic, like an online graphic novel. If I go the that route, I’d certainly try to publish the finished product on bleached and bounded sheafs of pressed tree pulp, but either way, I’m not giving up on webcomics anytime soon. You can’t get rid of me that easily!
DS: Are you planning a collected, print edition of the whole Ugly Hill series to release sometime after the conclusion?
PS: I don’t know how realistic that would be in terms of profitability, publishing a book containing strips from a defunct webcomic, but that would make me really, really happy. I’d like to ask everyone, at this point, to cross their fingers and wish REALLY hard.
DS: What was the first webcomic you remember reading?
PS: Geez… probably either PvP or Superosity, back in 2000. [Chris] Crosby, [Scott] Kurtz: I think you owe us all an apology.
DS: Name five webcomics you regularly read now.
PS: Five? No no, please don’t do this to me. That’s like asking those goofball freaks with the 18 kids to pick five favorite children. If I leave anything out, I’ll feel terrible! I’m just going to give you my regular reading list, verbatim, right here:
- Evil Inc.
- Diesel Sweeties
- American Elf (the only one besides mine that my wife also reads)
- Toothpaste for Dinner
- Penny Arcade
- Pictures for Sad Children
- Octopus Pie
- Dr. McNinja
- Questionable Content
- Bob the Angry Flower
- Girls with Slingshots
- Anders Loves Maria
- We the Robots
- The Abominable Charles Christopher
- Joe Loves Crappy Movies
- Scary Go Round
- Least I Could Do
- Kate Beaton
- Creatures in my Head
- Boy on a Stick and Slither
- aaaaaaand F-Chords.
As you can see, I may arrive at my day job by 7:30 am, but I seldom actually START work until at least 8:00 am.
8:00? More like noon! Well a great big thanks to Paul for taking the time to calm my fears about the end of a great comic and make sure to check out the upcoming end of Ugly Hill in the coming weeks and take a moment or two to scope some of the strips he listed. I know I’ve already added two to my RSS list, with many, many more to follow.