Originally I followed her for her self-published story, Best Friends Forever, or BFF. Yesterday, she announced its end before its narrative completion. I could touch on many topics related to her announcement but I’d rather talk about the webcomic itself and what it’s meant to me.
Originally, it was a mostly comedic webcomic centering around Vincent and Teddy’s odd couple friendship. I began reading it when it only had two chapters up and what’s now “Chapter 0” was still its official first chapter. I found the characters charming and the “bromantic” nature of their relationship amusing. Now, I probably wouldn’t find jokes about the stigma of close male-male intimacy as entertaining but I’m thankful for keeping up with it.
By “Chapter 7,” it started taking its high school environment in a more serious direction (while still being hilarious and charming). Issues of bullying, homophobia (internalized and external), class, toxic parents, sexuality, and more within the environment of high school, where teens are both growing into themselves while maintaining their social personas were explored. This shift was incredibly important for me. At the time when I first started reading it, I was a queer teenager in high school struggling with my sexuality, even though I was in a much more welcoming environment and had a group of openly LGBTQ+ supportive friends. This narrative direction felt like a dream come true as I was coming more to terms with myself. Not simply for my shipper feelings about Teddy and Vincent, but seeing a story take its own “teasing” of romantic queerness seriously (especially when some media and creators will tease characters’ same-gender intimacy as potentially romantic, to attract or titillate a fandom, but still assert these same characters as heterosexual). Though I didn’t directly empathize with the whole story (such as dealing with a boy’s experience of homophobia), the conflicted feelings and insecurities surrounding queerness still struck me deep. And the experience of falling in love with a close friend as a teenager was something I did directly empathize with. Not only did BFF gain more thematic depth, it felt like someone taking my my queerness seriously. It felt like someone understood me. (At some point, whether before or after the serious story turn, I found out Quinn was openly part of the LGBTQ+ community and thus, it was that much more validating to not see myself in fiction but also in the people creating fiction.)
Beyond that, even after Quinn decided to change the format of BFF from a full webcomic to chapter updates of a mix of text summaries, dialogue, and sketches, it remained a strong story to me. Her writing is nuanced, moving, and compassionate. Her art remains dynamic and wonderful, even when unpolished.
Thus, her stop of BFF is saddening for me. I’ve always craved for closure for Vincent and Teddy’s relationship. I care for the other characters’ development, but these two have always meant the most to my heart. Their relationship has always been sweet to me, even with their hurtful fights and fraught interactions centering around both of their complicated relationships with masculinity, heteronormativity, growing up, and just each other. In fact those interactions are what has deepened their bond for me. Thus, Quinn’s decision to not talk about her planned story development means my desires will be unsatisfied about their relationship and their futures.
However, I respect this. Quinn talks about self care for her mental health in her announcement, particularly to do with her relationship with BFF fans. The current environment of the creator-fan relationship and fandom culture in general are worth entirely separate posts but any and all artists have the right to take care of themselves. As a fan of a different story, Hunter x Hunter, which has gone through many hiatuses due to its mangaka’s chronic health problems, it’s not something new for me. And I respect that. Art is difficult. Creating content is difficult. BFF was never a contract to any of us. Commitment is important but Quinn is not ghosting nor has she tricked anyone. She’s quitting a project that has turned unhealthy for her and setting her own boundaries for it. I appreciate her honesty and all the work she’s put into BFF. I also look forward to the work she’s doing (such as being the colorist for Snotgirl and whatever she’s doing for Cartoon Network).
I’m also, thankfully, not the same person I was five or even three years ago. While BFF has been and will always be a formative story for me, I don’t need it as much in the same way. My sense of self, as a queer woman, is much more secure than before and I’m so excited for the future of independent LGBTQ+ artists. I’m genuinely so much better for having BFF in my life for the past five years, even unfinished. So this is both a recommendation for anyone who doesn’t know BFF and an expression of gratitude to Mickey Quinn.