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About The Comic

Between 2004 and 2009, Moose River was a “daily” web comic by me. It follows the “adventures” of a five specific residents of the City of “Moose River”:

  • Avery Mann, who recently moved to the area for college (UCMR)
  • Anne Amoureux, who was born and raised in MR and was Avery’s contact to Moose River
  • Shea Marerra, Anne’s best friend since forever
  • Emo Kim, the token emo boy, and,
  • Betty Wilson, Anne’s mother

Many other characters show up as well.

While working on Moose River #0 early in 2004, I kicked around an idea for a regular online comic involving Moose River-related stories. I wanted to do something a bit more complicated than merely narration with pictures, but I never had the opportunity or will to do something on a scale like this before. After the 2004 San Diego Comic Con, I started work on Moose River (then called Moose River Regular), but I quickly lost interest and became discouraged. One year later though, mostly after a period of self evaluation and pre-production, I gave the story another go, which became the story as it exists today.

Now, traditionally, the overall Moose River concept has never really been anything I put much thought into. The stories from my earliest Moose River mini-comics were simply whatever came naturally from my head, and the Moose River series were of no exception; they merely pitted many of my long time everyman/everywoman characters in an actual, narrative story. Only this time there was going to be an actual beginning, middle and end to the story, and there was going to be a more dramedy aim to it. Kinda like a Wes Anderson film.

Unlike in The Simpsons where Springfield is a very ambiguous town, I decided to simply rewrite reality to fit Moose River in. The city of Moose River is a suburb in Tuolumne County, California. But unlike the real Tuolumne County (with a population of 55,000), my Tuolumne County is a large metropolitan area of around 10 million people. Most of its size was growth during and after the 1848 Gold Rush. The city of Moose River itself is a relatively small town about 15 minutes away from downtown Sonora (the largest city in the area). Despite the fact that it is home to one of the largest state colleges in California, Moose River still has that “small town” feel. Things never change, and people are more closed off to the rest of the world than you would be living in downtown Sonora. It’s a quaint town, but it’s not without it’s issues.

Furthermore, the world of Moose River itself is slightly different from reality. This world represents a more idealized representation of California and the United States of America. Some of the more significant changes include a far greater American-Indian presence (there are about 65 million living in the nation with a number of them being regular characters in the story, especially Shea Marerra), Americans landing on Mars in the 1980’s (as there was no Vietnam War to divert money from the space program), and trains having a greater impact on modern life than airplanes. However, these differences do absolutely nothing to move the story, and can easily be ignored without forcing you to miss any of the important details. I figure though that if I’m gonna write some realistic-fiction, I might as well have fun with the fiction part of it… it does help pepper up the story a bit.

My original intent back in 2004 was to write a journal comic entitled Sometimes I Think It’s All Just A Dream…, which covered my most recent breakup (at the time) to the woman I lost my virginity to and the emotional fallout that created…. buuuuuuut, I ultimately chose not to because it kinda felt like that was a very egocentric thing for me to do and one that gave me little creative freedom, especially since my interpretation of the events might have been warped and skewed from what actually happened. A retelling of my experiences verbatim is not fun for me to do, and Lord knows how it would’ve made my ex-girlfriend feel because she would not have had an opportunity to challenge any of my claims. (But then again I was was planning to write that comic as a way to try to convince her that I was worth taking back again.)

On the other hand, rearranging the elements and events of the lives of myself and my friends and family is definitely a far more entertaining story for me to tell; mostly because it allows me to rewrite or swap around actions and feelings to different people without worrying about whether or not I got it right. This in turn gives the reader an opportunity to get to know the fictional characters far better than their REAL WORLD counterparts, which in turn would’ve introduced a level of lack-of-privacy which wouldn’t be fair to my IRL friends and family and ex’s.

So basically, very little about the overall Moose River concept and subsequent series is something I actually made up from scratch. Most of the story is reconstruction of bits and pieces of the experiences of myself and the people in my life (friends and foes), and no single character in Moose River is based on any single IRL person. By chopping them up into pieces and rebuilding new people out of those pieces, I can guarantee that even the worst characters in Moose River have bits and pieces of me and my friends in them, and also allows the reader to connect with those worst characters, whether they like it or not. And whatever else I can’t fill in with actual experiences, I use the general observations I have of other people’s lives and of life itself.

Basically Moose River is a journal comic without being a “journal comic”.

I think one of the biggest flaws of many webcomics, even to this day (15 years after having started Moose River) is that their writers set their archives in stone and won’t allow themselves to edit them. This in turn forces them to work with any mistakes or continuity errors that exist in previous pages, or at least ignore them, which may confuse new readers.

I’ve always felt that was a bad idea to fall into with Moose River, so since day one I’ve allowed myself to edit my archives as I see fit. I actually have done this numerous times, between minor tweaks in the dialogue all the way up to the removal of entire pages. Even in 2019, I continue to made edits to pages which I feel contain elements which are too problematic for their worth.

The way I see it, I’d rather just spend the five minutes to rewrite a bad line than to spend three pages explaining why that bad story element exists. Now if I didn’t update my archives as much as I do, Moose River would have been ruined a looooong time ago; it would all look like this as opposed to what it currently looks like. This kind of revision won’t end until the current Moose River series is over, so don’t be surprised if a comic you remember doesn’t exist any more, or if there is a comic #045.5 or something.

Moose River
by Philippe Van Lieu
—Fully Charged - June 27th, 2019—

From the bottom of my heart (and the bottom of this page): thank you very much for reading my comics.

Nick15, all related subjects, and all text are ©1996-2019 Philippe Van Lieu
All else are copyright of their respective owners. Used without permission. Dang.