One Of The 'Net's Longest-Running Webcomics Has Done Something Weird To Its Most Memed Strip

"Loss" is one of the modern internet's most pervasive and most strange, memes. Now, it's, uh, a little different.

From "Loss."Image: Art by Tim Buckley.

Some background: Ctrl-Alt-Del is a webcomic. A very old one, in fact. Beginning in 2002, the strip, written and drawn by Tim Buckley, has updated regularly for the past sixteen years, expanding from a special-interest gaming webcomic during the heyday of two-guys-on-a-couch gaming strips to a broader, more strange slice of life comic, before ending up somewhere between gaming parody comic, broad sci-fi pastiche, and postmodern nightmare.

Its most iconic strip is "Loss", which became a huge meme by virtue of its sheer incongruity. After years of silly gag comics and, uh, open letters to lawyer Jack Thompson, Buckley's strip got suddenly very serious, culminating in strip depicting the protagonist's wife having a miscarriage, a narrative move so unexpected that a lot of the internet found its existence darkly hilarious, leading to a sharp backlash and a lot of mockery.

References started showing up all over the 'net, and in 2017, after nearly a decade, the meme enjoyed something of a resurgence. Now, if you see any art that mimics the basic figures of the strip — one figure, then a standing and sitting figure, then two standing figures, then a standing figure and a lying one — then chances are it's a reference to Loss, or will at least evoke the question, "Is this Loss?"

The original "Loss", via Know Your Meme. Credit to Ctrl.Alt.Del. Image: Art by Tim Buckley

Only today, on the infamous strip's tenth birthday, no less, if you go to the place in CAD's archives where "Loss" is supposed to be, you'll find another comic. You'll find "Found."

via CAD-comic.com. Image: Art by Tim Buckley.

Yes, that's right. It's "Loss", but the final panel is tweaked: instead of the protagonist standing in horror, he has a knowing smirk on his face. "Gotcha," he seems to say, as his wife... suffers horribly. "I see you, memers." Uh.

What? What? Is this a prank? Is this Buckley's nod to the popularity of the "Loss" meme? Was he hacked? What is happening here?

Even more strangely, "Found" seems to have entirely replaced "Loss" in the website's backend — comments on the "new" strip date back a year, and the original URL leads to a dead page.

It's not clear precisely when this appeared, but the Internet Archive has snapshots showing the original comic from as recent as May 20, whereas the new "Found" only has one snapshot, from today, even though it's backdated to 2008. The backdating does change the date from June 2nd to May 31st, 2008, however, suggesting that this might've gone through earlier this week.

I, dear readers, am baffled. I've reached out to Tim Buckley and I'll update if he comments.

tl;dr: Is this "Loss"? No, no it's not, and I don't know why.


Comments

    Why didn't he also add the smirk to her face? Cause now it looks like he's enjoying her suffering.

      The comic was absolutely cringeworthy at the time, honestly I don't think this really changes it much...

        Yeah... there's quite a lot that's not being mentioned in this piece.

      Maybe in the retcon, she doesn't have a miscarriage. Maybe instead, she gives birth to a fully-grown clown, who pops out and punches her in the nose, which makes her sad, but he's all like 'Guess life is like a box of chocolates'.

    I was surprised to see that CAD (to a degree) is still going.

    I remember reading it back in the day during my PhD (a good year before the mis-carriage arch).

    That comic though has me in two minds. The arch was an example of art mimicing life. OK, every artist is allowed to do so.

    But it was also the same time I saw that Buckley have a very brittle glass jaw. When questioned about covering the topic he was very aggressive.

    Eventually over time I found the comic too slice of life and stopped reading. I don't know what has become of Ethan and the others but if a quick look at the archive section of the site is to go by, it looks like they are not the flagship characters any more.

      Buckley confirmed himself to be a little bit of a piece of shit.
      But yeah, Ethan and Lucas turned into super heroes or some shit.

      I was an active reader of the comic at the time and it was just so odd and out of touch with the rest of the comic. But the internet crap storm that erupted after was pretty amazing. Any critique of the comic led to bans from the forum. But I can understand being defensive of telling a personal story that must have been awful to go through and changing the comic like this seems pretty messed up.

      I too haven't read it for many years. Stopped reading not too long after this story arc basically because it had become not about the games anymore. I mean, it's his decision to take the comic in that direction but by doing so he was kind of alienating the readers to liked the comic because of the games. It stopped appealing to me and by the looks of comments on this story alone, it looks like it stopped appealing to many others, too. I haven't even visited the site so yeah, I wasn't even aware it was still going.

    Used to read this regularly in its early days. Was a great web comic back then. I lost interest in it though after a while.

      It was cool when it was more about miniature stories about nonsense, then they went on the feelings tangent and it lost it's toilet humour-ey style of comics.

    He got all political, and I dumped the comic. i assume it hasn't gotten better?

    It looks like it's gone back to normal. The "Found" comic and link doesn't exist on Ctrl+Alt+Del's website anymore, while the "Loss" comic, as it originally was, has returned.

    I used to be a big fan of Ctrl+Alt+Del, for reasons I don't know. Maybe when I was younger, I was easily amused and easily influenced, but over time I began to change my mind.

    - The comic became too full of itself. What once started as a comedic gaming strip eventually turned into a story of unnecessary, badly told drama. Examples include the return of Lilah's rich, ex-boyfriend, the "loss" story (as shown above) as well as Ethan's X-Box robot (wtf) going crazy and trying to kill people. Yes, I read all this when I was younger.

    - The writing got so bad. It's a comic, it's visual medium, but the four panels were just cluttered with words, so much unnecessary dialog, all in an attempt to make the characters sound witty and intellectual.

    - Tim Buckley, the artist/writer/creator of Ctrl+Alt+Del, is a wanker of a human being. He's not nice to his fans, regularly slams the ban hammer on the forums and has quite a bit of controversy behind him, including sending photos of his junk to apparently-underage girls over the Internet.

    - On a more positive note, it looks like Tim has listened to his critics and has worked hard to improve his art, because he has actually gotten better. No more static characters made from pre-made Photoshop objects, no more plain backgrounds/blurred photos from Google, he seems to put more effort into his drawings with organic backgrounds and non-static poses. In saying that, it took him a very Goddamn long time to change his art.

      I think CAD (and others like it, like Penny Arcade or VG Cats) are relics from an earlier era of the gaming subculture. Webcomics, especially gaming-centred ones, were like the Twitch streamers or YouTubers of today - everyone wanted to make one and hope to monetise it. CAD just did a comparatively good job compared with the others and has endured as a result, or maybe it was just one of the earlier ones.

      Buckley then thought he'd create some sort of dramatic storyline in a comic that was mostly about throwaway topical video game jokes... along with an art style where everyone looks half asleep and has only a few variations of expressions. Then when readers questioned this odd turn of events, Buckley turned into a colossal dick.

        It's staggering how Penny Arcade blew the fuck up and ended up being de facto custodians of the culture through PAX and Child's Play, enterprises which quickly took on sentience and no longer required their creators' input, leaving the creators largely irrelevant. The comics themselves aren't so much comedy the way it used to be as much as one half: dry observations on the hobby's absurdity, the other half imagination detours.

        I'm very fond of all the strips involving being a hardcore gamer AND a parent. They're little, culturally specific, uncommonly relevant insights I don't see often in more mainstream media, so I usually enjoy a monthly catch-up on PA strips/stories.

        Contrast: VG Cats, which very, very occasionally produces the traditional strip of good, old-fashioned comedy-through-perversion. Poor old Scotty... didn't get the benefit of productivity that comes with having a partner in crime, I guess?

          You're right, as well. Penny-Arcade blew up so hardcore, becoming a Goddamn enterprise of a company when once upon a time, it was a humble, three panel .JPEG that got released three times a week, by two geeks living in an apartment together. Pretty amazing.

          VG Cats... oh, goodness. VG Cats disappoints me. I used to like VG Cats as well, but to be fair, it was probably during a time when I wasn't mature and I was much more easily influenced. Scott barely updates his comic anymore, because nowadays he's too busy drawing furry porn on his Patreon (seriously, he's got a Patreon account nowadays where he draws "lewd" furry art and "rule 34" art, having nearly 300 Patreons giving him over $4,500 USD a month).

          To be fair, it is good that Scott is drawing for a living, because he obviously likes drawing and wants to do it full time. On the other hand, what he is drawing nowadays... ugh, how the mighty have fallen.

          On an unrelated note, having a "partner in crime" is so helpful. I used to draw weekly comic strips for GameRevolution.com, "GR Strips", did it from beginning of 2014 to the end of 2016. My brother, who is great at writing, was so helpful, as he helped me write and create strips. From experience, I can safely say that having someone to help you in regards to writing, art, feedback and critique is so much better than being alone on the journey.

            From experience, I can safely say that having someone to help you in regards to writing, art, feedback and critique is so much better than being alone on the journey.

            It's also like having a gym buddy for motivation - you've got someone you're letting down if you don't show up, whereas people are generally far more cavalier when letting only themselves down. (Because they know they'll forgive themselves... or they're just so used to disappointing themselves that it's just a base-level expectation.)

              That's a great example. If you have someone to work with, a partner you know and trust and who is good at what they do, it'll seriously help you to not only get work done (like drawing comics) but to keep you motivated, to help you try new things and get better at other skills, like idea development and even writing.

              I admit, I admire that Tim Buckley and even Scott Ramsoomair have found success in working by themselves, but when you look at say, Penny Arcade, who extended their partnership, they went on to do some amazing things.

              At the end of the day, though... you don't need to achieve "amazing things" to be happy.

              Look at Scotty, he's drawing furry porn and getting paid more than us, so he's probably happy. :P

        You are absolutely right. Back in the day, web comic artists/writers, especially those who did it full time, were essentially the "YouTube stars" back in the day, and a lot of artists (like myself) dreamed of being in their shoes. Hell, I still wish I could do art for a living, one day.

        I think that's where Ctrl+Alt+Del severely fell, for me, is when Buckley tried to introduce intense drama and storylines into his strips. It's okay to tell want to tell a story, but the issue was that his comics were no longer funny, nor were they trying to be funny, instead it was trying to be a heart tugging drama. It didn't work. Granted, there are many people who will disagree with me and continue to be loyal, loving fans of CAD.

        And yes, you're right. When questioned or criticized, Buckley did not respond very well.

    eh i don't get the drama to be honest. i used to love reading CAD right up until ethan got blown the fuck up then i kinda lost interest in anything on that site. i didnt even realise that they were rebooted at some point.

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