Some of you may recall my praise of Latigo Flint from earlier entries. He's got a following of regular posters, none of whom seem to know where he disappeared to after his last (and let's face it, somewhat unbalanced) November 26, 2006 entry, Sweet Madness in the Songs We Scream. I've been checking in every few days since then, just to see what's been developing. There are 67 comments posted from quizzical folks (several repeat players) wondering what happened to him. If something bad happened to him in real life, we'd never know -- we don't know who he is. All we know is that he entertained us for a time, and then disappeared.
It's amazing how a virtual, and clearly fictional, character can seem like a person and create a community, of sorts, like that. But is it any stranger that a group of people have appreciated and come to know Latigo Flint, than say, Ze Frank, who is only marginally more real? Ok, Ze is a lot more real (and has a much, much larger and better-organized community), but we have little way of knowing how much of his Internet persona is his true self and how much of it is created for his online presence. With Latigo, we can be relatively sure it was all constructed. But aside from that, both have used the tool of the Internet to break the "fifth wall" (at least by my definition of it) -- they have allowed their audiences to talk back to them, creating conversation and community from entertainment.
Yet Latigo has left his community behind without warning. (Ze, at least, has warned us that he will do so in just a few days, as his show will end on its one-year anniversary. I believe the community will remain well after The Show ceases). I had always dreamt that someday I would meet Latigo Flint (or his creator, I suppose), and let him know that I appreciated his entertainment, and wish him well with what I can only assume is a career in screenwriting, and maybe we'd even become friends. Now that he's off the map, I'd imagine that's less likely. But one never knows. Maybe one day I'll meet him in a Starbucks somewhere. Or maybe someday Kid Relish will get a blog.