What do you get when you take an orphaned inventor whose crazy impossible plans always seem to work, an independent young woman with anger issues who just wants to have adventures, a lazy but wise sidekick still growing into his dangerous abilities, and a mischief-making tagalong with ADHD–and you send them out into the world?
If they are two elves, a dragon, and a pixie, you get the fantasy webcomic Chasing the Sunset.
Type: Continuous storyline
Updates: Mondays and Fridays, theoretically, but currently on hiatus/very slow updates
Began: February 2003
Number of Comics: 700+
In Print: Only by special order or at cons in Norway, so not really
Chasing the Sunset, as I explained in my first post in Webcomics Anonymous, was the first comic I ever read and the one that inspired my interest in webcomics in general. It’s not the funniest, or the most well-drawn, or even the most interesting of the many webcomics I follow, but it holds a special place in my heart and always will.
CtS follows the adventures of Fallen Leaf, a young elf who, as a young child, witnessed his father being swept away by floods. After his mother died of grief, Leaf was raised by his aunt and a young dragon he befriended after finding it in the woods. As an unusually mature teenager (which, in elf years, is in his mid-100s), Leaf hears a bard’s story about an elf who was carried far from his home by floods. Leaf immediately thinks that this is his father and sets out on an adventure to find him, accompanied by his friend Ayne, a younger elf maiden whose rather volatile temper disguises her caring nature, and his companion Myhrad, the young drageling Lead befriended as a child. Leaf’s inventive ideas and naïveté about the world outside his villiage, coupled with Ayne’s impulsive temper, get the three into some interesting adventures, especially when they are joined by Feiht, a mischievous kleptomaniac pixie whose reality-shifting powers are only as powerful as her imagination and extremely short attention span.
Chasing the Sunset is an interesting comic for me because though the art is not fantastic, the storylines are sometimes predictable and other times discursive to the point of distraction, and the artists’ personal lives frequently interfere with the update schedule to the point where CtS went on hiatus for the better part of a year, the characters truly come alive and grow in the multifaceted, well-thought-out world they live in. Both Leaf and Ayne start out as young, rather foolish adventurers, but the people they meet and the dangers they live through quickly give them experience, skills, and things to believe in.
For example, Ayne, with her temper and need to protect others, finds a cause and a place to belong when our adventurers encounter the Amazons, a race of blue women who live in “No Man’s Land” between two kingdoms. Ayne ends up becoming an Amazon herself, taking on the responsibility to protect their homeland if needed and gaining a place in this caring, humor-loving but fierce sisterhood. Also, over the course of a few hundred comics, she turns blue, which is interesting in and of itself.
Leaf gets to do his share of growing up as well, since fairly early in the comic he is possessed by Furies, spirits of anger that he must quickly learn to control lest they destroy everything around him in their blind need to avenge, well, just about everything. As Ayne and Leaf make their way through the World that Is, they also encounter unicorns, witches, dwarves, dragons (other than Myhrad), kings, other elves, pixies, kittens, faerie dragons, mages, gryphons, and trolls, and Leaf’s father seems always just a little bit farther away. But these loyal traveling companions will not give up their quest—Chasing the Sunset has been in production for ten years, and Leaf, Ayne, Myhrad and Feiht have never stopped traveling west. No matter what tragedies may plague them (or their authors), no matter how spotty their update schedule might become, until Leaf’s father is found, these characters will still be chasing the sunset.