Webcomic Spotlight showcases some of today’s best comics that are predominantly, or entirely, published on the internet.
I’m old enough to remember a time before webcomics, when print was, literally, the only way of delivering your comic to fans. From those early days, what I remember most, is how different they were than their print counterparts. People could say anything, on any subject, without fear of censorship. They were able to connect with people in a more personal way. These weren’t faceless publishing houses, they were ordinary people with a passion to create comics. Webcomics took my comic-worldview, and brought it down to a personal level. So as I was formulating the content for this blog, webcomics were without a doubt going to be included. As for which webcomic I’d start with, I decided not by length of time, but by deepest connection. That comic, for me, is PLOX, by Steve Hamaker.
What makes PLOX special is its subject matter. On the surface PLOX looks like another gaming comic, but the heart and soul of PLOX is formed around a gaming family. I’m not talking about a gaming father and mother with their two gaming children. I’m talking about the very real connection people can make as they play a game together. A connection that forms friendships, sometimes lifelong, out of strangers and pixels initially.
Steve’s a gamer, and much like myself, he’s a gamer with a love for comics. Yet, where Steve and I differ, is that he’s an amazingly talented colorist, and a darn good artist and storyteller with the ability to create something like PLOX. If ever given the chance, I’d love to sit down and talk with Steve about how PLOX came to creation. I say that, because there’s no way Steve could’ve portrayed, with such personal accuracy, the very real bonds people can form over the internet through common interests, such as video games.
I’ve been playing games for nearly as long as I’ve been reading comics, and a handful of the people I’ve met through gaming, have become some of my dearest and closest friends. We’ve been there for each other when family has died, jobs were lost, and relationships fell apart. That’s what PLOX puts on display. People, often grown adults, playing a game that’s facilitating far more than leveling and gearing a character. It’s forming bonds, real emotional bonds, with people who share the exact same interests. Entire communities have been formed around video games, support groups, with people willing to help total strangers, all based on this one common thread in their life. That’s why I had to write about PLOX, because I’ve never come across a truer, or more entertaining comic, that mimicked real life experiences more.
PLOX follows the life of Chad, who has personally invested himself into an MMO gaming community in the form of a guild. Yet, this isn’t just a group of strangers coming together to play a game, Chad’s actual friends play this game as well, and it means something to each of them.
Chad’s day to day routine is scheduled around raids, which he leads. His character, CWIK, is as important to him as breathing. This game, and by extension this guild, is very much apart of who he is as a person. Chad’s problem is, how do we put it, well…he’s a jerk. Not just any jerk either, he’s at that level where if he was drowning, you might not rescue him immediately because it’s nice not hearing his voice for an extra ten seconds. Kim, the guild leader and Chad’s personal friend, has been pushed to the very brink of sanity by his attitude. She’s tired of the things he says, how he treats people, and his general attitude toward everyone. Kim is tired of Chad. Yet, Chad remains unaware, or at the very least, he doesn’t care.
It is this obliviousness, or lack of consideration, that causes an emotional explosion of sorts. Roy, a friend of both Chad and Kim, and fellow guild-mate, is suddenly thrust into the middle of their conflict, which hits its breaking point. This is where the comic’s plot takes its spin.
As I said earlier, on the surface this looks like just another gaming comic, but more personally, this is a comic about a group of gamers who see each other as family. I highly recommend this comic to anyone, but especially so if you’ve ever been apart of any gaming community. This comic spoke to me on a very personal level, and I hope it does the same for you.
You can check out PLOX HERE.