Fan Comics and Zines, Please!

With every turn of winter into spring, I get an itch to reorganize my life.  The resolutions of the new year have settled into routine, so it’s time to clean up the GIMMGP Headquarters and toss out some of the old crap that is cluttering the place.

First thing to go are the clothes that are no longer worn; those shirts I have outgrown (figuratively and physically) and pants that have been worn to tatters.  Next comes the bits and baubles that I no longer need.  Stocking stuffers, ironic gifts, old appliances; anything that just takes up space and wastes time is donated or re-gifted.  Finally I get to the nitty-gritty: deciding what media should find a happy new home.  As a man of many hobbies, this is the hardest part of spring cleaning.  I tend to hoard books, movies, and games more than anything else (save for video game brochures), and it’s tough to part with any of my lovelies.

To make matters worse, going through my piles of stuff leads to discovery of some forgotten gem that has languished on the shelf.  On this particular archeological dig, I have unearthed the collection of video game fan comics and zines that I have amassed over the years.  While the bigger comic book publishers tend to have many shiny titles to their name, some of the greatest comics I own have come from independent artists and writers.  Let’s take a look at the most treasured of these books, shall we?

Life Meter Comics

FanComics1This collective of artists and writers was one of the first exposures to fan comics I had ever encountered.  The brain child of Zack Giallongo, Dave Roman, and Stephanie Yue, Life Meter Comics was a wonderful mix of lighthearted comedies and elegant dramas based on video games both mainstream and obscure.  Unfortunately, the three volumes produced by the group have become rather rare, and their LiveJournal and Tumblr sites haven’t been updated in quite some time.  But if you can manage to snag an issue at a convention or witness some of their work online, you will not be disappointed with the joy these comics can provide.

Letters to an Absent Father

FanComics2Many people who don’t read comics or play video games tend to discount the impact these media can have on their audience.  They assume that a deep and emotional tale cannot be told through seemingly childish forms.  Mare Odomo’s Letters to an Absent Father proves the naysayers wrong on all counts.  This bittersweet set of comic strips takes the well-known journey of Ash from Pokémon and retells the tale from the perspective of a young man who longs for the affection of his missing father.  Most of the comics can be read at Odomo’s website, and a pocket-sized print of the collection has been known to show up online or at conventions.

Magical Game Time

Hopefully by now, you have heard of Zac Gorman and his wonderful comics site Magical Game Time.  If you haven’t, go ahead and take the time to visit his place and read all of the comics on there.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

FanComics3Wasn’t that great?  Mr. Gorman has crafted an amazing balance of humor and introspection in his work.  The cartoony images work so well with the poetry featured in some pieces.  From the moment I first read his comics, I felt like the emotions I had been tying to video games for years were on the monitor in front of me.  The quiet moments with Link as he traveled to save Hyrule, the fun yet serious adventure that Ness and Company faced in EarthBound, the wacky and weird world of Zombies Ate My Neighbors; Zac Gorman captured the personal stories that so many players have experienced and turned them into fantastic comics.  The first volume of his work is available for purchase, and while it may not contain the animated bits that add a unique touch, this book is a great treasure for anyone who loves video games and comics.

By now, you may be wondering which pieces of media I chose with which to part.  Honestly, I cannot seem to let go of any of my video games, movies, or comic books.  Every one of these items has a piece of my history tied to it.  Parting with one of them and relying on my memory could work for the future, but I prefer to look back on these beloved bits and let the past wash over me with even more vivid detail.  Life Meter will always be the comic I bought with my friend Chris at the first PAXEast, Letters to an Absent Father was the gift I bestowed to a good friend while he moved to a new place, and Magical Game Time marks my visit to the Small Press Expo with my wife, where we met Zac Gorman (he’s a pretty cool guy).  So I will continue to be a sentimentalist hoarder, but at least I’ve got some great video game comics to read.

For more bits and pieces on video game comics, be sure to check out Geek Force Network every Monday.  More info can be found here.

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