Let’s have a chat about video game comics, shall we? Well, I suppose it’s not so much a chat, as it is me talking at you, but you get the idea.
These days, most people jump onto the Internet to get their supply of panels with punchlines. And why shouldn’t they? Webcomics provide an easy-to-access source of video game humor and entertainment. Penny Arcade in particular has pioneered the way we laugh at video games. But before the the digital age of comics, there was print media, and there are some true gems to be found in their pages.
Long ago, when Nintendo Power was relevant, their mascot Nester poked fun at video games with his pal/boss, Howard Phillips. In the Howard and Nester Comics, Mr. Phillips would play the “straight man,” to Nester’s monkey shines, often giving readers valuable tips, like “Break that brick to get a leaf,” or “Join the Nintendo Fun Club!” Each comic was a clever way to include more tips for early Nintendo games These simple panels would give way to epics that would span entire yearly subscriptions. Super Mario World, A Link to the Past, and Star Fox each got their time to shine as comic book heroes/heroines in Nintendo Power’s hallowed pages.
The Super Mario Adventures debuted along with the Legend of Zelda comics in Nintendo Power Issue 32. Both series ran for 11 issues, and were later collected and published as standalone trade paperbacks. Super Mario Adventures was heavily influenced by Super Mario World, so it featured locales such as the Ghost House, and lots of Yoshi-related content. The storyline for the plumber’s printed adventures was a fun take on an established series, with not the Princess, but Mario being ultimately captured by Bowser and his brood. Through the course of the tale, the reader is treated(subjected?) to a cross-dressing Luigi, Princess Toadstool taking the reins and saving Mario(for once), and plenty of great artwork and inventive comic book framing.
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was written by Shotaro Ishinomori and shares its story with the video game of the same name. Ishinomori made his mark on the world of comics with his work Cyborg 009, and as the creator of Kamen Rider (which would lead to shows like Ultraman and The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers). While the story pretty much follows the events of the Super Nintendo game’s plot, the dialogue and detail added by Ishinomori makes this publication shine. The reader follows Link from start to finish on his quest to save Princess Zelda, where they see a young boy who has just lost his Uncle grow into the Hero of Time who would defeat the very evil that took his family from him. Ishinomori’s artwork suits the series perfectly, with lots of full panel shots of the characters and the vibrant world they inhabit.
Star Fox was a game set in an amazing science fiction world where the technology of the distant future is piloted by anthromorphic animals. That’s right, I said animals flying in spaceships to save the universe. The concept seems so strange, and was all that was needed storywise for a super-fun space shooter game. Outside of knowing that there is a pilot named Fox McCloud who must save the universe from an evil space-ape overlord named Andross, there was not much to this tale. But with just these meager details, a great comic was written by Benimaru Itoh, with full background stories for each character divulged in its pages.
There were other video games that received the comic book treatment in Nintendo Power’s hallowed pages, but it seems that the digital age has taken over. While there are some great comics being posted on the Internet each week, I will always remember waiting(rather impatiently) with my brother each month for a new installment of my favorite comics in each issue of Nintendo Power. Ah, those were the days.