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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

New Comic Book Seeks to Capture Gamers In The Pit

by Ken Newquist / October 1, 2004
  • In The Pit
  • Fan Boy Entertainment / Eden Studios
  • Written by Albert Bruno III
  • Illustrated and Lettered by Jimmy Changa
  • MSRP $2.99

In the Pit is a comic book about gamers penned by some of the folks behind Eden Studios, the company that brought us the All Flesh Must Be Eaten and Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPGs. It takes place in a comic book store crawling with a not-unfamiliar cast of dysfunctional misfits, each more eccentric than the last.

This is not a new concept. We've already got Knights of the Dinner Table, about rabidly clueless gamers happily hacking and slashing their ways through their ever-suffering GM's numerous worlds and Dork Tower which is more of the same, but with slightly less epic storylines.

So do we need yet another self-mocking comic book offering an all-too-honest look at the sweat-stained underbellies of gaming geeks? The answer is maybe ... but probably not.

Same Pit, Different Day

Issue #1 of the pit opens with a gorgeous attack reporter trolling for sensational stories on the bad side of town in a run-down strip mall that harbors all the undesirables, including a sex toy shop, a collectivist, anti-capitalist, hippy video store, a disgusting pizza/hotwings place, and -- of course -- a comic book/gaming store.

The store's named "Fanboyz" and its owners decide to invite the reporter into their den of geekdom to show her that it's perfectly normal. She agrees to come back later for a tour. In the mean time, the owners conspire to lock up all of their perfectly un-normal customers in the basement for a home-grown RPG playtest as to not freak out the reporter.

Their customers are an eccentric lot. Mr. Grey is an illegal alien working the register, though everyone assumes he's from Canada rather than someplace extra solar. Cosmo is one of the store's co-owners and a ladies man who hasn't quite figured out how to score, while his partner Isaacs is a frustrated writer and game designer who despises the idea of working for the man. Wobert's the obligatory Goth obsessed with playing female characters, while Gus is equally obsessed with ninjas. And then finally there's Dave, the ex-military Star Trek-worshipping white supremacist.

The scary thing is that we all know people like this from time spent hanging out at a comic book store, either arguing points about plot lines or waiting for a HeroClix tournament to stop.

Normality Lost

These all-too-true stereotypes are fun for what they are, and the book has a more of an adult edge to its language and visuals than either Knights or Dork Tower. It's an amusing title, and I don't regret the time I spent reading it, but I don't know I'd have gone out of my way to buy it.

I didn't like the character of "Dave" -- in my experience, gamers just don't put up with this sort of racist crap, nor would they agree to sit at the same table with him. Then again, that's probably why he's at the store -- no one else would have him, and dysfunctional customers are always difficult to get rid of.

"Dave" is actually a good example of what I liked least about this particular comic was how typically atypical its gamers are. There's not a single "normal" geek among them, and by normal I mean an enthusiastic gamer who still manages to have a life, including a job, significant other and/or kids. Such regular folk (and I'm convinced that most gamers are at least half-way normal) would provide contrast for the store's various freaks and provide comic relief that's different from the same old stereotypes that Knights and Dork Tower have been playing around with for years.

Think more Clerks and less Mallrats and you'll get where I'm coming from.

That said, it's not a bad book. In its promotional materials, Eden Studios acknowledges that gaming humor is something of a dead horse, and that they intend to beat it into tiny, gooey bits. For what it's worth, they do a decent job of it. The humor is darker and crasser than what's seen in other books, and I'm sure plenty of people without my hang-ups will enjoy it's geek factor. It's just not something I'll be adding to my comic book pull any time soon.