It generally doesn’t help to dwell on things past, especially creative endeavors. When a comic dies – even a great comic – it’s usually for real and good reasons, and in my experience it’s better to move on from failed projects than to try to revive them later. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some that I miss.
Nicola and Belmondo was a comic about a teenage girl who gets a crush on a girl she meets while rescuing a stray dog. It was simple, cute, and relatable, and now, sadly, it’s gone. Like, GONE-gone. All that remains of this comic are a sampling of pages on the author’s Behance profile, tantalizingly incomplete. This comic was in its third chapter, once upon a time, now I can barely even find enough images from it to illustrate this review. I kinda feel like I should be making a tragic documentary instead.
I held out hope for years for this one to come back to us. It was a great start to a story, with enough fluff to warm your heart but enough angst to keep things moving. When Nicola finds a small black dog wandering near her apartment, she’s not sure what to do – but a woman passing by invites her over to meet her sister, who rescues dogs on her farm outside the city. Nicola also meets the woman’s daughter, the gregarious and tomboyish Belmondo, and immediately starts crushing. Upon learning that Belmondo’s aunt doesn’t actually have room for more dogs, Nicola decides to keep the stray – Corky – despite knowing her abusive mother won’t like it. (I’m pretty sure I’m getting some of these details wrong, but unfortunately I have only my memory to work from.)
And we’ll never know what happened next. When the Drunk Duck page for Nicola and Belmondo went down, I stopped waiting up for it. The author says that the comic is only on hiatus, but that’s on a Behance page that hasn’t been updated in over a year, and still links to that defunct Duck page, so I won’t hold my breath.
Queer webcomics have begun to flourish since the days of N&B’s lifetime, but at the time it was one of the few that wasn’t terribad yaoi. Comics about queer girls are still in short supply relative to M/M comics, but in the old days it was way, way worse. Lea Kralj Jager’s comic was a bright star in the endless night, a queer story by a queer girl with a quirky and cute art style, so it’s easy to see how it quickly became one of my favorites, and why I still think of it years after its death.
But judging from the author’s portfolio, she’s still working and making art, which is great. Abandoning a project that you don’t have time, energy, or interest for can be an important skill for any creative person. Art, like love, is hard work, and sometimes you’ve got to know when it’s time to move on.
Final verdict: You can’t read this comic anymore, even if you wanted to. But if it lives in your heart like it does mine, you’re not alone.