Anders Loved Maria and Still Does
February 5, 2010 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Anders Loves Maria, the funny, dramatic, romantic and quite NSFW webcomic, with its distinctive visuals, often frustrating characters and very Swedish attitude, has concluded after 3 years and 3 months (ending with a difficult delivery in more ways than one; the last 3 months were an excruciating wait for the last two extended chapters). A tale of semi-fidelity, baby birds, hitting the wrong hole and grown-up responsibility forced upon those who never grew up, A♥M was a favorite among other webcomic creators from day one, and, hey, they ought to know! If you never got into AndersMania, you can start at the beginning of the 250+ updates here.
posted by oneswellfoop (30 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
bork bork bork
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:16 AM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Maybe the word SPOILER in 96-point BOLD (with perhaps an audio link to a fire truck klaxon) would have helpful as a sign for those of us who went to your first link... um, first...
posted by Mike D at 10:18 AM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Good to see that it finally has a proper ending. It's been kind of an inevitable ride, coming to this last movement. I highly recommend that people read it from the beginning, it's not too long, and it's almost cinematic in its treatment of the characters and story.

posted by stresstwig at 10:23 AM on February 5, 2010

The site is unuseably slow for me.
posted by Perplexity at 10:31 AM on February 5, 2010

Hot tip: if you're tempted to actually read this, don't read the last one first like I just did (knowing full well it was a spoiler, might I add.)
posted by griphus at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2010

The site is (a) serving up a lot of graphics on its final update, (b) being pounded by every A♥M fan who was eagerly awaiting that final update and (c) getting a lot of traffic from newcomers going back to the beginning (as I linked to at the end of the post). It should be zippier in a few hours.

Whether I should've linked to the current front page (with the final update) first is a debatable question; I think I expected more of the MeFi audience to be among the 'waiting for the ending' rather than 'not discovered yet'. But I did rewrite the post five times to minimize SPOILERS in the post itself and overthought a hill of beans in the process, all while having a tear in my eye for the ending, and I really hoped everyone would read the entire 100 word FPP before clicking any links. *Big Sigh*
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:49 AM on February 5, 2010

AheartM is one of the really good ones, I think. I had some trouble keeping track of plot threads when I read it update-to-update, but things held together a lot better when I reread it all in one sitting. I think Engstrom's reach just slightly exceeded her grasp when it came to writing the thing (although that might just be a translation thing), but good for her. It was great to see a long-running strip that was emotionally based and featured characters with some complexity to them. And after she settled into her style, the strip looked fucking great, both in draftsmanship and overall craft (I've out-and-out stolen the no-panel-borders look from AheartM)
posted by COBRA! at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2010

I can't wait for the book, when Engstrom re-does all the "I took a picture of this strip because my scanner is broken" and I can have it spread out on my (nonexistent) coffee table in all its glory. Her art style is without a doubt my favorite among all the comics I read, and the story is heartbreaking.
posted by booknerd at 11:01 AM on February 5, 2010

Gah, never heard of this before. Am finding it very difficult to read this in either direction because the site is being sooo slow (the early art and writing seems pretty bad, too, which makes it hard to start at the beginning).

This interview seemed to be the only thing I could find online about it that gave me at all an idea of the context and what the fuss is about.

(According to this flamey page, she is Canadian, though she now lives in sweden, and her accent might be an affectation. Who knows.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:16 AM on February 5, 2010

The end is finally posted? And I find out about this while I’m at work? You, metafilter, are an evil mistress.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:25 AM on February 5, 2010


Now I am stuck waiting for Piperka to catch up with it.

And looking forward to seeing what Engstrom does next.
posted by motty at 11:30 AM on February 5, 2010

I'm so glad it's finally over. I like the comic, but the artist seems like a flake. She rushed the end to ALM after putting off new strips as often and as long as she could -- she even said she was tired of doing the strip, so she just slapped on an ending and called it done.

Also, there are ambiguous endings, and then there are loose threads that are just forgotten. I think she had way too many of the latter and tried to pass them off as the former. Oh well...maybe I'm being too harsh. But following that comic was so frustrating because she almost never followed up on anything.
posted by Toothless Willy at 12:06 PM on February 5, 2010

I agree, Toothless Willy. That ending didn't seem earned at all, more like a tourniquet for plot threads.

Ah, well. At least it's an ending.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:37 PM on February 5, 2010

As for the 'rush job' theory - just below the final strip she writes 'And this is the end. I wrote it over 3 years ago.'
posted by domakesaypat at 4:54 PM on February 5, 2010

Fair enough -- then she rushed everything leading to that end she wrote three years ago.
posted by Toothless Willy at 6:40 PM on February 5, 2010

I remember reading a bit of this comic years ago but it fell off my radar for one reason or another. I just read the whole thing in one long sitting, though, and it was totally worth it. There are certainly some unresolved plot threads and I understand the dissatisfaction, but there's a lot to love about the comic too.
posted by danb at 7:10 PM on February 5, 2010

Every single drawing with arms not down the sides of the torso has super long bendy massive arms, and every drawing of someone in bed looks like a person built out of soft fettuccine. The only thing worse than the crappy figure drawing (and the broccoli that I guess means 'tears in the eyes') is when the strips are hand-drawn, and the characters all look identical except for hair color.

Normally with comics you see people improving and refining their technique throughout the life of the strip, but I've read two years worth of these, and the art has only gotten lazier, with one or two exceptions.

So, is she really Canadian, or what?
posted by paisley henosis at 7:59 PM on February 5, 2010

paisley henosis: So, is she really Canadian, or what?

Apparently she is, and she cannot draw feet.

I have no idea why I read that whole thing tonight.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:34 PM on February 5, 2010

Looks like a great comic! But yeah, bad call on no spoiler alert.
posted by cman at 12:26 AM on February 6, 2010

I braved the painfully slow server to read all of this last night, and it was good, but man, did that make me glad to be single.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:01 AM on February 6, 2010

What MikeD said.

Great post but grade A crap link.
posted by BadMiker at 3:44 PM on February 6, 2010

One of my favorite webcomics ever. I went through all of it again this night. With all its imperfections from an evolving style and 'real' life occasionally walking in and causing the irregularity of the updates, it is a great story, told with a light touch and lots of nuance. I really hope to be able to buy a book someday, and can't wait to see what comes next.

And, by the way, at the risk of sounding a bit like a fanboy, if you get to the end of the story, you should see a yellow paypal button.
posted by _dario at 8:01 PM on February 6, 2010

At the risk of sounding dense, I don't get the message of the last strip, and I felt that the ending was rather anti-climatic (tragic, but anti-climactic). If anyone would care to explain the last one to me I'd be grateful (and yes, i read them all). You can memail me to spare everyone else the spoiler.
posted by djduckie at 10:02 PM on February 6, 2010

OK wait, nevermind, Anders grew a beard, Bjorn somehow got younger and johan didn't age at all. I get it now. I also had to go back and kind of study the panel with the "rag doll" that was tina on it befoer i got what was going on.

I enjoyed it, but i have to blame the drawing if i really had to study it that hard.
posted by djduckie at 10:07 PM on February 6, 2010

hrmph. the ending was a cop-out, I think.
(actually, I sort of feel like Maria got less and less character development as Anders started screwing more and more blondes. She just sort of turned into this pregnant thing that all the actual characters talked about. So I suppose [foo] was appropriate... but such a cop-out.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:24 PM on February 6, 2010

Thanks, I spent the last few hours reading through from the start. The story had zero resonance with my own life, but I enjoyed it. The flashbacks were an interesting device.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2010

Ok, went back last night and read through all of these. The story and art get much, much better around the time of the first flashback. In fact, just about everything in flashback is stunning. However, Anders is one of the most unlikeable characters I've ever encountered, and it's clear from both the author's blog and the comic itself that she just adores him and . . . blegh. Agree with YCTAB that Maria got the short end of the stick, there. Set up from the beginning to be a tragic, classic, stereotypical Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Somehow, the unbearable Anders gets off scott-free. Blegh.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:52 AM on February 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

I read the whole thing and... I like the art style (when she bothers to do things right) and she's a decent writer, but who cares about a man-child and the various woman/girls who mysteriously want to have sex with him? I feel like this question was not answered.
posted by selfnoise at 1:10 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was of at least two minds about nearly every aspect of the strip, since the art is on the one hand not the sort of thing I generally go for, but on the other hand pretty gorgeous, and many of the main characters would, in real life, be pretty terrible people — but it's not really a good idea to expect fiction to portray moral paragons, right? And the way that they're terrible is pretty interesting, since they're terrible in the mundane, sad way that people are terrible, like, they're unfulfilled and aren't sure how to live, and end up doing very stupid things because of that. But... the thing that pushes it over from "huh, I like this" to "failed experiment, but I'm glad someone tried!" for me pretty much is the way that Maria switched over from being bad at life in the way that people are bad at life into being an incubator for Anders' desire / lil Maria. The thing that got me to keep reading the strip after being skeptical of the first few installments was the way that in the early fights between Anders and Maria, both of them did the sort of stupid and impulsive things that humans do... and that really faded later on in the story. Though, I guess the flatness affects other characters, too; Bjorn and Johan have a lot of potential that we never really see, since the story's about Anders instead of them... same with Anders' redheaded friend and her daughter, I think.

That said, if instead of ending with the Event — or, well, Events... it's easy to forget the Tina stuff — the story kept going for a while, and actually dealt with Anders having to come to grips with his monstrosity and with the existence of birth and death and you know the real stuff that makes the universe difficult enough without folks going around being monstrous in it, and also coming to grips with the fact that being not-monstrous actually takes work, etc., etc., it would have been more satisfying. He's starting to learn, a little bit, before the Event (and that's what kept me reading), but just barely.

I guess if I had to describe A. loves M. to someone who hadn't read it, I'd say that the themes it addresses are along the same lines as those in Six Feet Under[1], and that the cast of characters has the potential to be as interesting as the ones from SFU, but that at certain key moments the author cheaps out and presents them as flatter / more idealized than they should be.

rrrgh! I'll probably read the author's next project, should she have one, but I'm expecting to get strung along again...

[1]: I mean, if Anders has an equivalent in another work, it's probably Nate Fisher... except Anders manages to be much more infuriating.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:09 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

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