MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Why are you reading this and not playing Arkham City?
Every week it’s a visceral war for my attention: between using my time to produce articles, write or draw comics, complete freelance design projects, or be a lazy bastard. Not 12 feet from my Hacktintosh work station is my present to myself. A 46” HDTV, a Sega Saturn, my DVD collection, and an XBox 360. When I moved into my house last year, I put all these amazing toys in said man-cave so I would have a space where I could create, and reward myself when I was finished. Here I sit a year later…clickity-clacking away for you, the fine readers of ComicMix, my entertainment center gathering a thick layer of dust. And it strikes me that I’m toiling away nervously hoping that my words will excite and amaze you when I could be doing something much more important.
I could be saving Gotham City.
Earlier this month, Arkham City, the sequel to the hit video game Arkham Asylum, hit the store shelves. Presumably millions of copies found their way to similar basements as my own. When the game debuted, I decided to be an adult. I abstained. You see, I waited almost a year and a half to buy Arkham Asylum. I’d nabbed it in the used bin at a Gamestop over Hannukah last year. Since, I’d played it handful of times. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Never beat it though. And thus I gave myself every reason with which to remain stoic in my stance. I didn’t need a $60 investment in time wasting. I have articles to write! Comics to draw! A pregnant wife to attend to! A nursery to paint and organize! And I still haven’t beaten the first one!
That Friday, at the weekly Unshaven Comic work-night, my will grew weak. Matt entered my basement with a hearty “Dude, why don’t you have Arkham City yet?” I shook my head in a desperate plea. “Duuuuuuude!” My knees felt weak. Kyle descended into our dank pit of creativity next. “Hey guys. Marc, did you get it yet?” Damnit! I turned to a nearby die. I declared to my cohorts if I rolled a five or a six, I would get up straight away and get the damned thing. I chucked the six-sided keeper of fate to the floor. It skitted around the vinyl tile in a red blur. And there, staring back at our hopeful faces… one lowly dot. Fate, as it were, was giving me a message. “Stay strong.” Screw fate. I rolled it again. Two. Four. One again. Matt and Kyle chortled as lay on the cold floor, forever mocked by my lack of fortune.
The following week, the work-night began as it had the last. “Dude?! Now?!” No, Matt. I had to pay the mortgage and bills. I can’t be tossing away my cash all the time. I bought books this week anyways. Kyle came down, a rustle of plastic tucked between his arm and body. “Well, I got it!” Poop. We worked hard for an hour or so. Set some dates for conventions we’ll attend next year. We bitched to one another about our printer problems. And like a beacon light guiding us away from our duties as creators… Bruce Wayne called out. “My Unshaven Lads! The hammers of justice are yearning to strike down the nails of tyranny. Only you three can unleash my vengeance upon the night! C’mon, just watch the introduction story!”
A hour later we forced the game off. We pried it from my disk tray. We sealed it back inside its plastic Pandora’s box. With the night ending, Kyle whisked the game from my house, and my life. I could always borrow it when he’s finished, I told myself. I’m plenty busy anyways.
That Sunday, Kyle and Matt returned to record our podcast. Kyle entered with a knowing smirk. “Gas pellets, Marc. Gas. Pellets.” No. “Seriously. You get them like right after the part when we turned the game off. You get the gas pellets.” And you can throw them to the ground, and then fire off your grappling gun, and zip away in a puff of smoke? “Oh yeah. And the game is an open world this time, so you could just go around doing that, and beating up thugs for hours.”
Kyle didn’t even get a chance to finish that sentence before the wisps of my Brut aftershave left a Marc-sized silhouette where I was sitting.
And here I am, finishing up this little tale of woe for you. The game sits on the desk next to me, unopened. It’s been sitting there since I brought it home last Sunday. Between interviews for ComicMix, my day job, drawing the next installment of The Samurnauts and finding time to sleep, I’ve yet to crack it open. The anticipation at this point is unsettling. I’ve considered hugging people with the flu in hopes of having a legitimate reason to call in sick.
But who am I kidding? Even when I’m sick I log on to do my day job out of guilt and fear I’ll be missed. And I love drawing and writing comics. And interviewing Will Meungiot this week? It was like a 60 minute conversation with the friend I wish I’d had years ago. Maybe I’m just a masochist. Like Bruce Wayne. Bruce. … What’s that Bruce? Gotham City is overrun with gangsters, psychopaths, and malevolent psychologists hells bent on overtaking the city and exposing your secret to the world? Only I can help you?
And you have those exploding gas pellets? Poop.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander