A Word… On Video Game Comics

Infectious.

That’s the word.

These freaking things are everywhere. The poke their heads into our communities and in most cases rule them. Almost every game comic I run into on the quest for new comics is the same insipid crap with equally insipid titles. It’s always something dumb like “Press Start to Play” or “The Game Corner”. The main characters include a male duo of quasi-trendy geeks, a robot of some kind, and a random hot girl that either is or becomes the girlfriend of one of the geeks.

It’s enough to drive someone away from comics and even cartooning in general for a little while. At least that was the case for me. I finished up my exams and my job hunting and rent paying and took a moment out for some nice kickin’ back. During this period of time I loaded up some of the neglected files and programs from my computer. One of these was my long time friend “Unreal Tournament”. (The original mind you. None of that crappy 2k4 stuff) After one night’s solid gamming I had a load of strip thumbnails drawn and written. Inspiration was as swift and sure as the flak from my cannon. Thus I put the game down long enough to begin drawing one of these thumbnails. It was going to be great! My and my buddy Bryan would be playin’ and my girlfriend (who, I might add, is VERY hot indeed) could come in and say something witty like “oh, you boys!”. How awesome was this?!

It was at this point that I realized the folly of my ways and promptly began banging my head against the wall in the appropriate “STUPIDSTUPIDSTUPID” fashion.

How could I have done that? How could I have so easily become the enemy that plagues the internet with free entertainment of varying degrees?

Gamming comics are easy. That’s why. Games are so fun, so entertaining, and so easy to draw inspiration from. How could I avoid the evil of their corresponding cartoons? Furthermore how could so many amateurs like me avoid it? Hell, even professional strips can’t/didn’t, but this does not excuse my own transgression nor the transgression of the amateurs I identify with. We are still in the wrong. There are so many comics on gamming out there. We owe it to our medium and our communities to avoid them and leave them to the mercy of the professionals who already dominate the art form.

Trudge on Penny-arcade. Rock out PVP. Kick Ass VGCats. Try a little harder Ctrl Alt Del. All of you rock. As to the rest of us amateurs-for-now: we must resist. I know it’s hard, but we must. It’s for the good of ourselves as well as our readers. And if ever you feel your spirit growing weary and you think yourself the lesser for it, hold fast and don’t succumb. It’s not your fault that gamming comics are so easy to do. They’re just…

Infectious.

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12 thoughts on “A Word… On Video Game Comics

  1. Know what else is infectious? A spell checker. While I\’m fully aware of what gaming is, \”gamming\” sounds like some new sort of senile fetish.

    Less than professional writing conventions aside, this is true of all genre-specific comics/TV shows/movies. The subject matter is always there and readily available, so creating a storyline is as simple as plugging in the fitting components (or not so fitting, ala Family Guy), working in your characters and VOILA! You\’ve got a story!

    It\’s when these less character focused storylines start to actually flesh out the people and places the creators used previously only as tools and means-to-an-end that the respective content can stand on its own. Look at strips such as PVP and Penny-Arcade. They\’ve overcome the \”Hey, we\’re about \’insert popular video game\’ this week!\” tag and have earned the time it takes to develop a cast of characters who could stand on their own should the chosen pool of jokes dry up.

  2. I agree there are a lot of specific genres – gaming comics, movie comics (I\’ve noticed them growing in popularity). You\’ll always get that, someone liking someone else, merging them with the comic world and from that, turning it into something else.

    The problem is, like you\’ve said, there is a lot of it and people get sick. The thing that makes a comic a webcomic or actually something good is actually being unique. If you\’re like the twenty or so other webcomics on the same topic, nobody will read. Whereas if you have something unique, either like midnight cartooner said, have characters who bode well even long after the \”insert popular video game\” strips die down, then it\’ll work and last.

    Sure you have a lot, but I think if you\’re gonna do a webcomic in one of the main genres, gaming, movies, you should also make it unique!

  3. I have to say that I agree with pookeyG\’s post. I started my strip a year ago and my first thought was to make a comic about a gaming duo. Now, the only comic I knew of was Penny-Arcade and had honestly never heard of CAD, VG Cats or even that the online comic community was so large. After doing the required pimping of the strip around on various forums, I realized just how many gaming comics were out there. I knew I had to change my format immediately.

    As the year has gone on I\’ve taken on a writer and we\’ve tried to make the comic less and less about gaming. While my main character is a gamer, we\’ve steered him off the couch and out into the world and on wacky adventures. While we still throw a gamer joke here and there, we\’ve tried to get into writing them so that anyone can find humor in them.

    As time passes my goal is really to make the comic steer almost completely away from gaming and more onto the lives of these characters in general. I also get much more satisfaction out of creating the stories and exploring the lives of my characters versus the random gaming jokes. I think your observation and opinion is completely valid.

  4. We owe it to our medium and our communities to avoid them and leave them to the mercy of the professionals who already dominate the art form.

    Okay, this is a pretty on-target post overall — I\’m a fan of your provocative columns thus far, PookeyG — but you really need to take a closer look at the hypocrisy of this sentence.

    I recall hearing elsewhere that all the \”professionals\” had already been discovered in a certain entertainment genre.

    Oh, right — that\’s the very thing the syndicates used to say about webcartoonists.

    The selection of experts is never finished. Your objection isn\’t to gaming comics. Your objection is to easy, inept, hackneyed gaming comics that use existing character structures and plots.

  5. We owe it to our medium and our communities to avoid them and leave them to the mercy of the professionals who already dominate the art form.

    Okay, this is a pretty on-target post overall — I\’m a fan of your provocative columns thus far, PookeyG — but you really need to take a closer look at the hypocrisy of this sentence.

    I recall hearing elsewhere that all the \”professionals\” had already been discovered in a certain entertainment genre.

    Oh, right — that\’s the very thing the syndicates used to say about webcartoonists.

    I do agree that making jokes about virtual adventuring can really suck the life out of your work if you aren\’t clever. But the selection of the \”professionals\” is a process that never ends. Your objection isn\’t to gaming comics. Your objection is to easy, inept, hackneyed gaming comics that use existing character structures and plots.

  6. I\’m sorry but I\’m going to have to call bullshit on the whole \”If you\’re unique you\’ll get noticed\” line of thinking. It simply doesn\’t work because, despite what everyone says, people will still flock right back to the same ol\’ concepts over and over again.

  7. Try a little harder Ctrl Alt Del.

    Thanks for that. XD5/08/2006 12:38:23 AM|W|P|Passing By|W|P|Isn\’t gamming the thing where you have sex with the legs of a woman from the 1940\’s? Thought I\’d heard that somewhere… Anyhow, badmouthing things online is a futile gesture. You don\’t like gaming comics? Don\’t read them. These unimaginitive titles you mentioned should make them easy to avoid. Why are there so many gaming comics out there? Easy. Because we game. We love our games. And gaming comics give the geek in us a giggle. If it makes people laugh, why take the time to write a tirade against it? Did I start a flame war against the guy who sent me a video of a monkey peeing into it\’s own mouth? No. I had sex with the woman he later married. Not out of spite, it was accidental. But I digress…
    It comes down to these simple facts:
    1) The internet will always be a place where snobs badmouth the things they don\’t like and the people who like the things they don\’t like.
    2) People will consume the things they enjoy despite said snobs. (Take that people who don\’t like that comic about lesbian sex amongst Buffy characters)
    3) Posts like mine will always be pointless because people are dicks who like to argue with each other.
    If people want to read gaming comics, let them.

  8. ^I hoped you would like that.

    Mike Russell,

    Thanks, I\’m really glad you like my stuff. Means a lot to me. I will take a closer look at my own hipocracy as per your direction.

    Chris C.,

    If it\’s Honest, original, has good craft, and is pushed via word of mouth well enough it WILL find it\’s own audience. Or so my belief in idealism tells me.

    IN MY DEFENCE,
    \”Gamming\” made it passed my spell checker, but I\’ll change it for future posts.

  9. Thanks, I\’m really glad you like my stuff. Means a lot to me. I will take a closer look at my own hipocracy as per your direction.

    It is nice to see that you\’ve absolutely mastered sarcasm.

  10. \”Your objection is to easy, inept, hackneyed gaming comics that use existing character structures and plots. \”

    Isn\’t this the very definition of the material?

    Hah! I kid, I kid. Someone has to continue the important job of speading videogame marketing and internet memes. I say more power to them!

  11. …it wasn\’t sarcasm. I apreciate what you said:

    \”Okay, this is a pretty on-target post overall — I\’m a fan of your provocative columns thus far, PookeyG\”

    And I didn\’t think I was being hypocratic at the time, but I see your point now.

  12. Well, the tone in my first post was a little school-marmy, at any rate. (If only DS comments had an edit feature!) Figured you were (deservedly!) calling me on it using our friend, Mr. Satire.

    Anyway. Really enjoying your posts– particularly the one on podcasting. LIKE YOU CARE. Keep saying what many of us are thinking.

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