Posted by: dougery | December 11, 2007

8-bit Theater

Over the years I have become able to hide (or at least shelter) the fact that I am a complete geek with varying degrees of success. Today… is not one of those days.

Last week i stumbled upon what might be the single most nerdling thing that has ever made me laugh out loud and then follow religiously. It is something called 8-bit Theater, written by a genius named Brian Clevinger since (roughly) 2000 and now in its 900-something strip showing no signs of stopping. Let me bring you down the slippery slope. Using a rating system where 1 equals ’embarrassingly but by no means hopelessly geeky’ to 10 which figures as ‘appallingly apocalyptically geeky’ here is how the following transition works out.

Comics (in general) = 2 (mildly geeky) —–>
Internet or ‘Web’ comics = 6 (outrageously geeky) —–>
Pixilated ‘Sprite’ Web-comics = 8 (unabashedly, you just can’t believe how geeky these are)—–>
Sprite Web-comics whose material is gleaned almost entirely from Final Fantasy 1 = 10 (congratulations, you cannot possibly hope to manifest your geek to a higher level)

8-bit Theater is just such a web-comic. 99% of its images are from the 1990 Nintendo video game Final fantasy 1. These images are captured screen shots, manipulated in various ways to present characters and show settings, emotions, actions, etc. The characters are all drudged from the pool of those found in the video game and spun wildly out of proportion with absurdist humor and tongue in cheek self depreciative in-jokes about the silliness of things like Dungeons and Dragons and the like. In other words, you, reader, probably just wouldn’t understand how hilarious this is unless you too are a guy who entered your teens in the early 90s, played video games (and maybe, *cough* D&D as well *cough*) and have a certain knowledge of the kinda stuff that goes on in the world of people who do like this stuff.

The story follows the adventures of a motley crew of heroes, and here i use adventures and heroes in the loosest way possible. There is an astoundingly dumb warrior named Fighter (after his character class, in fact all of the characters take their names from their class) who talks constantly of swords; Black Mage, a diabolically evil little man with a short fuse and tremendous power which is always mis-used; Red Mage, one big D&D in-joke; and Thief, a guy who is taking advantage of everybody else for his own financial gain. Among others.

It’s pretty much impossible for me to do this sort of thing any justice, to show you how unbelievably cool it really is without, well, reconfiguring your upbringing, but hey, if anything deserves a shout out, this sure as hell does.

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