Video Games, Comics, and Navel-Gazing

Hey, have you guys heard of Teh Learning Curve yet? It’s a pretty cool gig; the premise of which being that a couple of guys sit on a couch, play a video game together for 30 minutes, then give their impressions of it – all of which is condensed into a five-minute YouTube video for the ridiculously short attention span of the discerning modern internet viewer. I did some logo work for them a little while back, but before that I actually took time out from my busy schedule as an international man of dysentry to appear, in real life, and show them the correct and most efficient way to play Braid.



If you’re having trouble recognising me, I am the attractive ponytailed Adonis sitting on the right hand side. I think we can all agree I have a bright future in game reviews, if not actual successful game play, or any manner of timing and co-ordination.

For those who don’t know, I used to do a (semi) regular webcomic by the name of Refried. I was looking back through the archives last night, and aside from the odd cringe or two, it really made me want to pick up the webcomic gig again. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this; it’s been almost two years since I stopped updating Refried and so I’ve had quite a reasonable amount of time to consider my position. So much time in fact, that I apparently fell asleep at the wheel and drove my car off the webcomics highway into the blissful ditch of real life.

This of course begs the question of what I should do to get back on the horse, if you’ll forgive my wild switching of metaphors. As far as I can tell, I have several options.

  1. Refried, Redux: Do what you know, as they say. The only problem I have with this is that I’m not really too happy with the Refried formula. When you boil it down, it is basically just another video game comic with a slight autobiographical bent, and that saddens me a little. There are enough shitty video game comics out there, and even though I wouldn’t exactly call what I did shitty, it’s still basically an oversaturated market that comes replete with its own ultra-dense fanbase and bullshit viewer expectations. On the other hand, I fucking love video games. So maybe I should just accept that.
  2. Apathetic Randomness: I spent far too long slaving over every line, every colour, every shade on the Refried comics. I was driven to do this because I am a perfectionist idiot, and I understand that. It’s not too bad to be this way, but when you’re on the internet you can afford to be less picky. There are dozens of comics out there with less complex art, or no art at all, who are ten times as successful as I ever was. I could probably pretty easily push out a shittier comic at least once a week with no trouble at all. The only downside of this is, of course, that I would hate myself a little. But again – maybe I should just accept that.
  3. Warhammer 40K: I know the Games Workshop universes back-to-fucking-front. You can’t play these games as long as I have, particularly Warhammer 40,000, and not have absorbed outrageous amounts of fluff and meta-game knowledge. And when you combine this into a comic form, which I have tentatively tried in the past in the form of guest comics, I think I have a recipe for myself to be fairly (or even very) successful. There is one main problem with this: it’s not my intellectual property. Games Workshop protects its IP with the viciousness of a cornered wolverine and I would never, ever, under any circumstances, be allowed to publish any comics I did featuring Games Workshop concepts, nor sell merchandise or profit from their IP. There are ways I could get around this: Jess has suggested a comic set in the universe of “WarAxe 300,000”, which would work nicely. And sure, I’d probably feel a bit creatively unfulfilled since I’d be basically playing in somebody else’s sandbox, but it’s a sandbox I’ve known and loved for a very long time. So maybe I should just accept that.
  4. Original Work: For probably about a year on and off I’ve been developing a concept in my head, which I have shared with some of you. It’s called Spitfires and Six-Shooters, and you can find some concept sketches of it my sketchbook if you dig back far enough. It’s a story I’d love to tell, and I think it would make an excellent comic if I ever went through with it. Out of all the options I think this is the one I’d prefer to tackle, but it’s also the hardest by a long shot. There’s so much work to do before I could even start storyboarding, and yet I know that the sweetest comicky fruit is growing at the finish line. So maybe I should just accept that, too.

Yet even a list like this is another way of putting off that first tentative step. And by creating this list, I’m overlooking the possibility that I could easily do multiple of these things at once, if I could just get over my outrageous perfectionism. A while back Nick threw up a link to The Cult of Done Manifesto, which really struck a chord with me (so much so that I made this wallpaper for myself). It’s a little bit pretentious, and I think I have a ways to go before I can buy into it fully, but it’s nice to have something to aim for.

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Absolute dickhead with no business being Online

2 thoughts on “Video Games, Comics, and Navel-Gazing”

  1. Hey Tim,

    Video: Sorry, I tried to watch the whole thing.. I got through 3 minutes, but.. your just so bad at the Baird 😛

    Comic: Refried was good because while it was another games related web-comic, your content was original. Usually having kick-backs to IRL events; Which many of the readers were involved in at one time or another. I don’t think the WH40k idea would work well long term, and like you said, your playing in someone elses sandpit. Take on the bigger challenge, do the original content. In the long run that will be more personally satisfying and has in my opinion, the highest chance of great success.

  2. Lawkes o’ lordy, full on Tim-vision! Commiserations on your 138 deaths!

    Just to add my richly-smelling contribution, I’d really like to see more work on Spitfires & Six-shooters as an adventure/comedy narrative – think that kind of world and character creation is where your strength lies, and the old Refried art style and the stuff present in your sketchbooks would give it a look that critics are sure to rate as between “Short-frosting” and “ingeniously splenderific”.

    You could also couple the Apathetic Randomness into that too, running a kind of stream of consciousness sketchdump alongside the more professional grade narrative, thus keeping both the readership and your own workflow engaged over the course of a week/fortnight or whatever your update schedule would be.

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