The Gaming Addiction of Slackerz
Slackerz is by Scott Hepting (artist) and Scott Smith (writer).
I tapped the clipboard with a pencil as I looked at the latest subject to fall under my careful eye. His hands and eyes were twitching rapidly and every so often he would giggle for no reason at all. An interesting emulation of the cartoony art style that often used wildly-drawn stick figures. The problem did not seem to be an external, art-based one. I quickly scribbled down a few words on the end of the paper stuck to the clipboard, and after finishing my grocery list did I decide to venture in and diagnose the problem with the comic.
Before I even said anything, he gestured wildly in my direction and shouted, "Hey! Did you know there are 13-year-olds who act immature on Xbox Live?" The subject then proceeded to laugh uncontrollably. I had seen this phenomenon before, humorous comics that try to play off of popular culture only to degenerate into treading where several other comics have treaded before.
Nonetheless, it was my duty to review the comic called Slackerz (with a "z"), so I approached the subject and asked in a calm manner, "Good afternoon, I noticed you are pretending to be playing with an XBOX 360 controller. Perhaps you'd like to tell me the problem?"
"It's these gaming comics, man!" He shouted, "I'm trying to be funny! That's not a crime, is it?"
"Yes, so I've seen your humor in your earlier work." I responded, scribbling down notes on the latest Jack Chick tract some guy handed me outside a nearby Subway. I made a note to order some actual plain paper later on, "So you admit you're addicted to video game inside jokes?"
"Hey man, did you know that the Nintendo DS stylus looks like a giant phallus?"
"No, I did not."
"I bet it does to that guy inside the game. Haha! Link is so funny!"
I jotted down notes about the subject's uncontrollable desire to repeat every damn video game reference that passed his mind over the panel where the Chick version of God explained to a dead non-Christian why he was going to Hell, "Do you remember MC Hamster?"
The subject suddenly stopped laughing, his facial expression changing from joy into something more deathly serious, "MC Hamster? You mean the rapping hamster who destroys the lives of stupid kids with his phat beats?" A flicker of recognition crossed his face before he shivered and continued, "He's just a statement of how ignorant children believe what they see on TV. Why would I keep using that character?"
"He seemed like an original creation of yours, a manifestation of your displeasure with bad advertising and the ignorant masses who simply follow it anyways."
"But... but he's not from a video game!" He shouted, "He's not like Johnny Turbo, or that creepy face from Brain Age!" He then began laughing uncontrollably again. "A--and did you know that the gaming market is supersaturated with World War II games? That's so hilarious!"
After jotting down a few more notes on that Chick tract, I finally said, "Alright, I'm not getting paid by the hour here, so let's wrap this up. Can you promise me to try more original humor without getting into gaming strips again?"
"Original humor?" The subject stopped laughing as his face betrayed his fear, "But that stuff takes so long to write! Gaming jokes are cheap, quick and easy! Original humor is hard..."
"Yes, I know it's hard to get off that easy stuff, but I've seen you do some decent work in the first handful of strips that didn't rely on video game references. There was actually a flicker of smart humor in-between some of those stupid-funny jokes. You should stop trying to emulate the same popular culture you occasionally rage against in these comics."
"I can change! I promise!" The subject shouted. "I even wrote a kind of meta strip about my addiction, and my last blog post mentioned it too!"
"Okay then, you've admitted you have a gaming problem. The next phase of the 12-Step program is believing in a greater power to restore your funny. Now pray to God that you won't do any more strips with gaming references. And don't forget to pick up some lessons in 'non-verbal humor' on the way out. I swear you don't have a single unspoken thought in nearly all of your strips."
"Can I at least talk about Portal or Super Mario Galaxy?"
"But I can quit after--"
"I said NO! Don't test God's faith in your writing so quickly!"
When the subject finally left the office, I finally had the answer to my question, "What would Jack Chick do?"