Normally humor strips like Fanboys tends to pass under my radar undetected. It’s not exactly that I dislike humor. It’s just that I enjoy stories and plots more than random frivolity. And to be honest, today’s update in which Lemmy received several text messages while shaving from his facial hair begging him not to shave them would have just been shrugged off without notice. No, what makes this comic worth was the bonus panel included under the comic… in which Lemmy’s friend (and resident jerk) Paul is stifling laughter as he sends a text message. It’s something Paul would do and would find funny. Further, by separating the panel from the rest of the comic, there’s an effective beat that intensifies the humor.
When Alina Pete decided to have her cast of characters in Weregeek LARP (Live-Action RolePlaying) for the White Wolf game Werewolf: The Apocalypse, I admit I was curious as to seeing how this would play out. About the closest I’ve come to LARPing is participating in an SCA event as a guest probably a decade ago (though I’m sure members of the SCA would look at me askew if I called their “reenactments” a LARP in front of them), and while some of my friends were a part of Boffers for a bit (which is something akin to a fantasy SCA in that people still use padded swords on one another, but tend not to build actual armor from what I could gather) I never really was into LARPing at all.
The first part of Pete’s Werewolf game was fairly true to her renditions of her characters’ Vampire game; we basically were given a mind’s eye view colored by imagination, but never really got into the nitty-gritty of things. But finally a week back, we finally caught a glimpse at the more… mundane aspects of the game. And it is logical enough for people to use props such as a massive puppet similar to the Chinese Dragons in some parades; it’s on par with the use of miniatures in regular tabletop roleplaying. But I must admit that it never dawned on me that people would use rock-paper-scissors to represent the die-rolling aspect to determine who actually prevails.
For all that I enjoy watching Pete’s imaginative renditions of the various games she loves to play (and which her characters are involved in), I must admit I truly appreciate this brief outside glimpse at what’s behind the game. While I doubt I’d ever get involved in LARPing (seeing that I tend to prefer running games instead of dealing with the unpleasantness of vindictive GameMasters who gleefully kill any character I run) it’s interesting to learn more about these games and how they’re run. And who knows; maybe some of Pete’s readers might become interested enough to try joining a LARP themselves. I’m sure Pete would be tickled to learn she’s inspired her readers to try something new.
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Tagged Gamer comics
I’ve been reading Magience for a bit now as it’s gone through several incarnations. When the comic first began, it was a fantasy webcomic with a definite MMORPG feel to it and which we eventually learn is just that. If I remember correctly, the cartoonist was unhappy with her artwork and the old story, at which point the comic underwent two reboots in fairly close order. The current incarnation is about Crystal and her friend Andrew who win a virtual reality game (which can actually be played while sleeping) that is so realistic that it’s easy to forget it’s a game. Crystal quickly lets herself get sucked into the game-world (as her home-life is one she prefers avoiding when possible). Amusingly enough, in the game-world Crystal’s character (Rune) is actually a princess, so she actually has to escape from her family before she can start going off on adventures with Andrew’s character Raven… and then has to deal with bounty hunters sent by her parents. It’s an interesting comic, though I must admit I’m hoping the cartoonist will focus on Crystal and Andrew’s life outside of the game as well from time to time.
Given the source material for the photo webcomic Darths and Droids, I must admit I was rather taken by surprise at the comic’s latest revelation: the Peace Moon (the name that the story’s Game Master chose for the Death Star) was built to be a tourist trap. There’d been little hints planted in the past (such as the military’s reaction to Darth Vader ordering the destruction of Naboo), but I must admit I’ve been viewing DaD with eyes colored by the Star Wars source material. Thus the Empire was evil, the Rebellion was good, and Han shot first.
Ironically, given that Darth Vader is being controlled (with the GM’s approval) by Annie, one of the players, I’m left to wonder if any of the players are “good guys” this time around. After all, when you get down to it, the players are attacking a government facility and will very likely cause the deaths of law enforcement agents in an effort to free a comrade who has been rebelling against the legitimate galactic government. Even the destruction of Naboo was the result of player action. It’s an interesting twist, to say the least.
While some stories have been told from the villain’s perspective it’s not exactly commonplace. Even fewer have written a story in which the villains are sympathetic protagonists who just so happen to be wrong. What’s more, this is a recurring theme: when Padme (Jim’s old character) realized that Anakin (Annie’s former character) was evil, she was perfectly happy to accept that side of him, though it ultimately bit them both in the end. And given that Jim’s newest character (who’s currently calling himself Han Solo) killed someone and stole his identity and name, I’m left wondering who outside of Ben could be considered a hero. And does it matter?
Over the last year, the computer gamer comic Critical Miss has been descending into madness (in-between its usual periodic side-steps commenting on the latest computer and console games) with its primary protagonist, video game reviewer Erin Stout, suffering from hallucinations after she was involved in an automobile accident. As with all stories, this storyline finally wrapped up after Erin’s confrontation with Link (though she didn’t know who he was). Sadly, it almost seems like Cory Rydell and Grey Carter are going that classic sitcom route of resetting things so that there are no lasting consequences between storylines. Of course, seeing that there have been other strips without Erin’s cadre of gaming characters urging her to listen to them, it could be that Erin is still nuts and we’re just not witnessing the meta-aspect of Erin’s “game-head-space” for the moment.
It’s too early to guess if Rydell and Carter have taken a Labor Day holiday and providing us with a glimpse of some of Erin’s classic wackiness, as I’m hoping is the case. I will be extremely disappointed if Erin “got better” from a significant mental impairment through sheer mental willpower. Sure, this is a comedic comic, but you don’t just retcon out a year-long storyline and hand-wave away mental illness. I mean, we not only have Erin pushing by the guy who threw her out of his house sans pants, but she then pulls a knife on a new worker. For that matter, wouldn’t it be interesting if the girl with the octopus hat had been hired to replace Erin (who has been suffering from psychosis for a number of weeks in the story-world)… and her knife-incident is the final straw leading to her firing?
The cynic in me doubts this is the case, as there’s little humor inherent in having Ms. Stabbity dragged to the police station before she’s locked up for her own safety. Neither path appears particularly palatable. Actually acknowledging Erin’s insanity as a genuine mental illness isn’t funny (and risks offending the more politically correct). Not even a pants-free catfight was enough to ameliorate the squick inherent in watching a young woman actually lose her mind. But the thought of retconning a story arc that literally just finished is equally unpleasant. Why did we bother following this to the end if it were just to be thrown over? Carter and Rydell may be looking at a very well-painted room, except for the corner in which they’re standing, unless they’ve some twist planned. The next few story-updates will reveal which path the comic will take… and one misstep could result in a number of readers leaving in disgust.
Like many people who grew up in the 70s (and earlier), I was a huge fan of the Star Wars movies, starting with the original (which George Lucas would later rename Episode IV: A New Hope). Thus it’s no real surprise that I’m a big fan of the photo-comic Darths and Droids which utilizes scenes from the six movies and reworks them to be a roleplaying game being run by one of the best kinds of GameMasters, the ones who roll with the punches and can make stuff up as they go. Add in a fine mixture of player dynamics (along with the actual game itself) and the result is a game readers wish they could be a part of. Still, part of the fundamental charm of DaD is its use of material from the Star Wars movies, and integrating them in ways we only wish Lucas had thought of.
One such instance lies with the NPC Han Solo, a small green alien who has long been the debate of diehard movie purists concerning the order in the discharge of blaster weapon fire. Watching Jim (the player behind Greedo’s character, represented by images of Harrison Ford in the movie) manipulate events and then coldheartedly cut down the green alien to steal his identity and starship was quite impressive… but not as interesting as the relevation afterward that the green alien was in fact a shapeshifter. This matters primarily when you consider the second chapter which included a shapeshifter and comments by the artist team about the odd inclusion of a shapeshifter for no real purpose in the movie. Given the ease of depicting a shapeshifter in the rendering of the comic, I must wonder if they’ll play a larger role in the actual game.
Today’s update caught my eye for a different reason, however: the Kessel Run. More specifically, The Comic Irregulars included both the line itself… and commentary below the comic concerning the history behind the line. Specifically, Han Solo’s statement in the movie was a load of bull meant to impress gullible idiots who didn’t know that parsecs were a unit of distance. Rather than accept that their hero was a braggart lying through his teeth to impress some rubes, audiences bought the phrase, hook, line, and sinker (which is a bit of delicious irony when you think about it). While for the most part Darths and Droids avoids specifics about the movies they’re parodying, it’s little tidbits like these, combined with some inspired storytelling, which makes this comic so enjoyable.
Given my fondness for roleplaying games, it’s no wonder that I’m a fan of Alina Pete’s gamer webcomic Weregeek. Still, I must admit I enjoy some elements less than others when it comes to her mixture of fantasy and reality in depicting these games. Thus when it comes to the Live Action Roleplaying (or LARPing) segments, I usually must muddle on through and wait for the story to move on to things that I find more interesting. Nor am I a novice when it comes to the Vampire the Masquerade setting as I Judged these on a couple MUSHes (text-based shared universes) years back. It’s just that the thought of dressing up and acting out these elements never really appealed to me.
Oddly, this isn’t the case this time around. I’m not sure what’s different about this segment compared to Pete’s previous LARPing comics, but I’ve found myself drawn into the story and actually enjoying the political machinations that have been coming to a head. Part of this lies with her depictions of her characters, naturally enough, and the various personae they take on in each game. And ultimately, this is Pete’s greatest strength. While it is enjoyable to see the games I’ve played (or browsed through in gaming store bookshelves) depicted graphically, it’s watching her characters’ enjoyment of these games that keeps me coming back for more… and even consider playing games I’ve avoided up until now.
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Tagged Gamer comics