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Follically Challenged Productions Presents:


I’d like to start this edition on a semi-serious note, if you’ll indulge me. The last two week period, quite honestly, has been one of the most frustrating times of my entire comic-writing career. For about two days towards the end of the whole mess, I was quite certain that I was ready to hang up my laptop and call it a day. Luckily for me, I have some of the best friends in the world, in and out of the industry, and I guess they took it seriously enough that they felt compelled to come to my aid. In truth, it may have been even more serious than they realized.

They gave me a good shake and a few well-placed pep talks, and I finally snapped out of my funk. I don’t need or want to name them here, and I’m sure they’d prefer it that way. They know -- and I know -- who they are, so I’ll just end this little intro with a well-deserved gesture of my gratitude: thanks, guys.

Moving on, I have a funny story to share.

I know there are legions of sexually repressed church moms and cranky old insurance agents who spend each night praying for protection against the undying horde of video game fanatics. After all, these slobbering beasts could strike at any time (provided they can whip up the can-do attitude after smoking the happy grass, sitting around playing HALO and masturbating all day. Kids today, I tell ya.)

Granted, we’ve had a few bad apples in the bunch, but you can find those in any subgroup if you do the statistical math. It all comes down to simple human defect, which can spring up anywhere at any time. Just look at Carrot Top.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago -- the weekend of the gaming convention called PAX, to be exact -- I was at a party thrown by Cryptic Studios in the amazing feat of architecture and design known as the Seattle Library. My homeboy John Layman had invited myself, Tom Peyer and Mark Rahner out for the evening, and this well-oiled celebration was the starting point for the festivities.

It was a nice party, and I was surprised to find that gaming fans are far less ostentatious than comic fans; they’re friendly and curious, but they also keep to themselves and don’t linger at your booth asking weird questions for hours on end. It was a welcome change. The catering was top-notch and the open bar was well staffed; shockingly, however, the free beer and wine were going to waste! You see, there was another line – a much longer line – that led to a table where free superhero badges were being given out. Apparently, having your superhero name and a picture on a laminated badge was a far better draw than an ever-flowing fountain of delicious alcohol. I still can’t grasp this concept, and I pray to the ghost of John Layman’s liver that I never will.

I had just finished my fifth “limit two per person” free beer when I heard the clarion call of nature. I escalator-ed down to the men’s room, conducted my business and moved to the sink to wash my hands. It was at this precise moment that I witnessed the event that would inform my newly formed Definitive Opinion of gamers and the danger they present to society.

The door swung open and two “Superbad”-esque gamer gents burst in, clearly freaking out over whatever it was one of them had concealed within his gigantor convention bag.

“Dude, we totally pulled it off! Marco and I took turns hitting the bar every time they were super busy, and we just kept getting served! The bag is totally full and they never even suspected a thing!”

Ah, I get it now – you young lads have been funneling the free beer from the bar and you’re going to get shitfaced at the Holiday Inn later on tonight while you’re all playing room-to-room Warcraft. Well played, a harmless enough prank, and almost worthy of my admiration.

I smiled as I walked past these two ecstatic criminals, letting them know it was all cool with me. As I heard the phrase “we are TOTALLY SET for tonight, man,” I glanced into the bag, hoping to see the spoils of their petty larceny…

… …and it was full of soda. Only soda -- not a cold ale in sight -- with Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke clearly winning the lottery of choice.

Fuck me. Are you kidding?

Time froze and our eyes met. They were fearful. Was I a Pop Narc? Would I sell them out? Oh, wait, look in his eyes again…that’s pity. We’ve seen that before.

I walked out with a shake of my head, and my opinion was set. Listen to me, Middle America, and listen good: for the most part, the basement warriors of the world don’t want to dress up like Super Mario and fondle your morals in the middle of the night; they have no desire to open fire in the Shake Shoppe after Sunday School; and they most certainly will not spike your sun tea with Spanish Fly on the day of the Neighborhood Watch picnic.

The gamers don’t want to hurt you, America. They just want your top shelf soda pop.

Brandon Jerwa

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