Nick's Gaming Blog

Thinkin’ ’bout branchin’ out.

If you can read (which, is possible, though I’d wager the illiterate, due to their ignorance, are more likely to peruse this page) you probably noticed the title of this article.

So, by that very simple fact alone, you now know that I, Nicholas Benjamin Shackleford Lemonsford Gerhard Skullcrusher White am considering taking this site to places that its never been before.

“And what would that be,” you ask. “Perhaps a redesign that doesn’t scream “crude” and “template-derived?”

Well, first off, Shut Up.  You are not the boss of me.  I know this because if They Might Be Giants taught me anything, it was that.

Perhaps you’re wondering just what I am pondering expanding the horizons of this site to encompass.  More likely, you probably don’t give a shit.  Which, you know, is quite understandable, when one’s posting is as infrequent as mine is, the idea that one’s concerned about posting more is kinda laughable.

Excessive self-loathing aside, I’m considering including some comic book coverage on my site.

Why?

Well, for starters, I read a decent amount of comics, and I think in a lot of ways comics are easier to subject to critical analysis than games are.  Please don’t misunderstand this statement though; I’m saying that the time required to sufficiently evaluate a game dwarfs that of a comic book.

With games, if you don’t have someone to play the co-op mode with, or an online pass to play the multiplayer element of the title, you probably can’t do the title justice.  Yes, it’s absolutely true that neglecting these two elements is practically part-and-parcel of all my reviews…but that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant of the potential disservice I’m doing to the game.

In addition, without proper subsidizing, or a palatable entry level price, the cost of reviewing a AAA retail next-gen game is $60 dollars, which (with tax) is more than twenty times the cost of a comic.  Without said financial backer, you’ll find yourself unlikely to purchase underdog/dark horse/low profile/bona fide dud titles.  That may sound like a “positive,” but being able to provide a first-hand account of what makes a certain game undesirable is important too (both for your game criticism education, as well as providing a public service to your readers).

And if you do end up reviewing a flagrantly bad game, chances are you’ve got to stare down the clusterfuck of a game for at least a handful of hours from the moment you decide its just not worth your time anymore…with a comic, it’s usually just another ten to fifteen pages.

Bottom line, I do love both comics and games, and both are equally complex and (potentially) sophisticated mediums of human expression.  It’s just that the turnaround on reviewing comics is a hell of a lot quicker.

For those that are interested in comic books/graphic novels/whatever terminology makes you comfortable to experience the fabled fusion of pictures and words that still have a social stigma in some people’s minds…allow me to briefly touch on where I hail from/are at, comics-wise.

I am a newcomer to the whole shebang.  Let me begin there.  Sure, I’ve hung around with comic book-loving friends for years, and have had my finger on the pulse of geek culture for a long while, but most of what I’d encountered in years past was always comic book derived.  I watched Batman: The Animated Series, found the film Daredevil to be a pleasant surprise, and still think Spiderman 2 holds its own against other fantastic sandbox games.

Again, wasn’t actually reading comics back then.  Sometimes I’d nab a couple volumes of “Superheroes I had actually heard of” from the trades section of Barnes and Noble, and if I had time to kill, skim through them.  I didn’t care much for if I was stumbling into the middle of a huge story arc, or wading into the deep end of comic book canon.  It’s hard to know you’re in the deep end, when you don’t even know you’re in a pool in the first place.

I didn’t share these experiences with many people, nor did I buy any of these books.  I think part of me knew I was going to have a lot of self-educating to do if I didn’t want to be the yokel that would shout “Them there’s a Hulk book, I love that guy!” to announce his arrival.  On top of that, I knew I wasn’t versed enough in comic book apologetics to explain this theoretically newfound reading material to family and friends.

Yes, this all sounds quite melodramatic, but think about it.  You probably (actively or subconsciously) think about the sorts of books you choose to read in public.  After all, many people (myself included) are more likely to weigh your reading material heavier than your dress or the shoes you’re wearing.  And, when you’re surrounded by people that really pay attention to the bound and printed word, looking like a juvenile shmuck or an emotionally-stunted adult isn’t a good call.

By the end of college I’d read Maus and Watchmen, the former for class, and the latter with the justification that “if TIME Magazine calls it one of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th Century, who’s gonna give you shit about that?”  To tell you the truth, I wasn’t totally enamored with either of them.  Then again, it’s largely unacceptable to say that any work about the Holocaust gets one all “jazzed up.’  Watchmen depressed me, I felt it was unfair that one guy got all the powers, didn’t really enjoy the ending, and, oddly enough, found myself upset that Alan Moore’s seminal work didn’t follow the sorts of tropes and guidelines I’d come to expect from the odd X-Men trade I’d flip through.

Granted, I think I get Watchmen now (though saying you “understand” Moore is probably the closest one can get  to saying “I really don’t  fucking understand Moore).  At a basic level, Moore was grounding the idea of the super hero into a realistic socio/political environment.  Who gets to become a super hero?  What motivates them?  What does it mean for a hero to age/fall out of favor/falter/lose/doubt themselves?  How does the government interact with these individuals?

This is a really small list off the top of my head. A REALLY small list.  I’m sure that most of them don’t sound that thought-provoking as they were at the time; Nolan’s take on Batman, Kick-Ass, and other modern works have tapped into these questions, as they are as interested in making heroes relevant for the current cultural climate, as they are about selling comics.

For me, Moore’s Watchmen earns the majority of my praise for its iconoclastic nature…but that’s a digression for another time.

I’d talk more about comics here, but I’d wager there are a few of you that aren’t as enamored with comics as I am, and I don’t want to put those people through something they’re not interested in.  Suffice it to say, if you like comics, there will be stuff upcoming…though I’ll be better if you’re a DC fan.

 

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