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Oct 09

Webcomic Review – 8-Bit Theater

Well, given our beloved chairmen talked about Atomic Robo early in the week, it seems only fitting to talk about 8-Bit Theater! I hear you asking “Why? What possible connection is there between these 2 (web) comics?!” Simple, Brian Clevinger is one of the creators of Automic Robo – along with Scott Wegener – he’s also the creator of 8-Bit Theater.

8-Bit Theater is a sprite comic, very loosely based off the first Final Fantasy game. It’s full of slapstick comedy, poking fun at the characters, the comic as a whole, as well as its readers. The comic finished in 2010 after a ~9 year run, spanning 1224 comic strips for just the main story and a bonus epilogue strip, drawn by Matt Speroni of the webcomic “How I Killed Your Master”. The entire comic (along with Brian’s other comics) can be found at http://www.nuklearpower.com/.

Now for those that care – now the actual review part! It’s only a short one so if you’ve got a couple of minutes – give it a read!

The Art

As already mentioned, the comic is a sprite comic. These sprites are mostly taken from the first few Final Fantasy games, with some small custom sprites. The backgrounds use a range of “art” sometimes using sprite tiles, textures or just pictures that you’d find if you poked around the internet a bit. The backgrounds are a bit bland (and sometimes a bit eye bleeding) at the beginning, but as the comic goes on, Brian finds a style that suits the comic and works well.

There’s nothing exciting in terms of the art, though Brian does use it for some clever tricks / jokes such as showing more powerful creatures in 16 or 32 bits instead – an indication that they exist on a “higher plane of existence” due to better colour depth.

The only other stylistic choice is the speech bubbles. While most are just bog standard white with black text, some characters will get certain coloured bubbles or text in an attempt to convey the reader with an impression of the voice (e.g. a black bubble with red text to give you the impression of a deep menacing voice).

The Format

Not much to say here. It follows the format of any regular comic book, though the page isn’t necessarily a fixed length. There’s no set number of panels on a page, or a fixed size for each panel. No complaints, it works and is used to good effect.

The Themes

So as already mentioned, the web comic is loosely based on the first Final Fantasy game – and I’ll touch upon this in the next section – but it also points out a lot of tropes in the (J)RPG genre of video games. This can be things like NPCs only having a few lines of dialogue, or grinding for levels and gear etc.

One other thing to briefly mention is how excellent the comic is at setting up for future comics. Just little bits of dialogue that might otherwise be glossed over or seem otherwise unimportant well occasionally appear again.

The Story

Ok, so this contains some (minor-ish) spoilers. If you don’t want any at all, just skip to the final section. The basic plot follows a group of 4 adventurers (named after their professions) as they are the “Warriors of Light” (quotes and all). In theory there are on an epic quest to gain the 4 elemental orbs to help them defeat Chaos. In reality they couldn’t care about any of that beyond furthering their own selfish goals (except Fighter – but he’s too naïve to understand what the reality is).

The story follows them on these travels and the hijinks that ensure. The group frequently find themselves in trouble and have to think of a way out of it – or use one of Red Mages off the cuff ideas.

Final Thoughts

There’s not much to say. 8-Bit Theater is – in my opinion – one of the best web comics to date. I’ve yet to find any web comic that can make me laugh out loud as much and as consistently as this did. With that I won’t keep you any longer and leave you with this:

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Thanks to Phil for reviewing 8-Bit Theater, and he’s not wrong when he says it’s a brilliant thing to read. So give it a blast, then tell us what you think, or what other amazing webcomics you read on Facebook or Twitter or perhaps on the forums! And don’t forget to come to Anicom tonight to see some cool new shows after the old school-ness of last week!