For those of you who were readers during the glory days of Nintendo Power, your first exposure to video game comics probably involved Howard Phillips and his good friend Nester. These goofy stories were a source of tips and humor in the earlier issues of NP. As the president of the Nintendo Fun Club, Howard Phillips would play the straight-man to Nester’s stubborn and off-the-wall antics. Over the course of 21 issues, the lovable pair were immersed into the hit video games of the day, often to comedic results.
As a celebration of Listmas 2013, I am taking a break from the usual comic book analysis to share my three favorite Howard and Nester stories from pages past (hit the issue links for the full comics). Here we go!
As a kid who spent much of his time at the local library, the thought of finding a Legend of Zelda book seemed like a dream. Granted, I wouldn’t have dismissed some of the classics like Nester here, but I definitely sought out the more off-beat stuff in the stacks. I especially love Nester’s indignant reaction to finding Howard in his story, even though the bow-tied knight is just trying to help.
This comic was the first time I had ever heard of QA departments and play-testing in video games. Until that time, I just assumed that the developers made the games correctly on the first try. What can I say, I was a naïve kid. At least I knew better than to assume the world of game testing was as fantastic as Howard and Nester would make it seem. If only we could just hop into a game to test for bugs. Then again, that’s a lot of pain and respawning for anyone who is testing Call of Duty…
Okay, so this one isn’t technically a “Howard and Nester” comic. After Howard Phillips left Nintendo back in 1991, Nester carried the torch in his own adventures for many more issues. It was in Issue 55 of Nintendo Power when Nester’s Adventures went on hiatus. The plucky mascot showed up for three more special comic appearances: as a college student in #100, as a father in #231 (the twentieth anniversary of NP), and once more in the final issue of Nintendo Power, #285. When the last issue hit store shelves, I made sure to secure a copy from my local bookstore. This comic is a total tear-jerker to longtime readers of Nintendo Power (and to anyone with a heart). I hope to someday share in this bittersweet sort of moment with my future children.
Looking back at these comics, I am really impressed with how well the artwork has stood up over time. The facial expressions on Howard and Nester are very emotive, and the shading is especially nice throughout the series. Special thanks to Tiny Cartridge for posting the final comic, and to the Howard and Nester Comics Archive, where you can find every one of these fun-filled stories. Merry Listmas, everyone!