Every once in a while, you find a comic that makes you giggle at the same time it makes you squirm. You know the sort: you laugh because it puts up gosh-awful stereotypes that most people couldn’t be expected to believe . . . and then you squirm because deep down, you realize that you know someone like that. This, for example, is why I can no longer watch The Singles Ward or anything else by Halestorm Entertainment: I’ve lived in the Utah Valley and seen every one of their characters in real life.
Enter Weregeek by Alina Pete, the most recent addition to Keenspot Comics and one of the more recent additions to my reading list. Just her cast page reads like a list of the people I’m usually eating lunch or attending medieval club meetings with: there’s the guy who still wants to be normal; the small, energetic LARPer girl; the “lovable lug”; the sarcastic MMO addict; the hyperactive fangirl; the guy who can’t stop talking; and the woman who dresses in vaguely pirate fashion. There’s even the occasional normal person who wanders over and lasts all of five minutes before fleeing in terror.
The art style is easy on the eyes. Being a graphic designer, artist, and animator, Pete is another of the cartoonists who have quite nicely avoided the typical webmanga look in favor of something fresh. And every character is recognizable and distinct from the others, which I can tell you is no mean feat. It’s a good litmus test of an art style to see if you can still tell characters apart after you change their clothes, and Pete is able to pull this off. You can even tell who’s playing which character in the many “gaming night” plot diversions by their resemblance to the players.
Speaking of plot diversions, the plot is where the comic gets either its most confusing or most fun, depending on which side of the line you want to sit on. The story at its most superficial concerns itself with Mark, an otherwise normal young man who, under the light of the full moon, develops a bad haircut and jaundice. Just kidding! He’s merely forced to confront his repressed desires to enjoy role-playing games and quote cult-favorite movies by being driven insane and running for the closest gaming shop post-haste.
That’s right, Mark is a weregeek. And as pretty much every recent monster movie other than Dog Soldiers has taught us, were-things are noble things, but terribly misunderstood. Hence, they must keep their existence a guarded secret and band together on full moons. Unless, of course, they feel like freaking the mundanes, in which case it’s perfectly fine to fling your darkest secrets to the wind and whatnot.
And you’d think they’d be a bit more careful when they have violent psychopaths tailing them. Yes, there are geek hunters. People determined to dress alike and preserve the city’s sense of normalcy by hunting down every last geek and making them suffer. Y’know, kinda like high school, except they kill you instead of stuffing you in a locker and calling you gay. Then again, considering that geeks are actually vicious shadowbeast fiends in human form as opposed to well-meaning social maladroits, maybe the hunters have more of a clue than the geeks give them credit for.
There’s also the trickiness of the storyline taking detours through various gaming experiences without much prior warning. Occasionally you can’t even tell that they’re in a deeper layer of fiction until someone ends up with elf ears or something. It’s not worth a massive gripe, and it’s not like it turned me away from the comic, but it can be disorienting on occasion.
So there you have it. I recommend giving Weregeek a look, if only to immerse yourself in the occasional justified wackiness that pops up.
Comic Rating: 2d6 + Int.