Okay, I know, “Geekiest Comic Ever” is a big claim to make, considering there are other comics like “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.” But I had to get your attention somehow, right? And Erfworld is incredibly geeky in a fantastic way. (As opposed to geeky in a sci-fi way.) Here’s the plot: in the magical realm of Erfworld, the Overlord Stanley the Plaid has basically killed off all his warlords in battle due to poor strategy. His spell-caster Wanda suggests they buy a spell which will summon the perfect warlord from anywhere in the universe, a military genius who will save them from certain defeat. So they cast the spell and who should appear but Parson, an overweight strategy gamer from Columbus, Ohio.
Parson reminds me a little of the character Eli Wallace on SGU. Here’s a man-child who is obsessed with spaceships and science fiction, and he finds himself on a starship hurtling through space. Yes, it’s a bit worrying and, yes, they could all die. But he’s on a frikkin’ spaceship! Parson is a bit like that, only with a gaming obsession: he finds himself inside a world similar to his strategy games. And while it takes him a while to accept that it’s actually happening to him, he quickly warms to the task and starts plotting strategy. (And this even after he realizes that Stanley the Plaid is, to put it bluntly, the bad guy. Parson doesn’t mind.)
The comic was originally published online under a Creative Commons license, and you can still read Book One: The Battle for Gobwin Knob online. (I will warn you: when I first went to check out Erfworld to see what it was about, I wound up reading the entirety of Book One in one sitting, staying up until about 2 a.m.) There are all sorts of tongue-in-cheek allusions: from Charlie’s Angels to the Eyebooks, magic books which the characters use to communicate with each other via a system which is, well, instant messaging, complete with a “Quack” noise when a new message is received.
The sound effects are absurd and hilarious: from the “Fer-Durrrp!” of the bugles to random words reinterpreted as onomatopoeia: “Golem!” for the appearance of, well, Golems, and “Decrypt!” as the sound of somebody being raised from the dead. The names of things are cutesy: “dwagons” and “gwiffins,” and they all look cute, too, even the giant vicious teddy bears. But then, in the midst of all the adorable stuff a warlord gets an arrow through his head, or a giant marshmallow peep gets bitten in half by a dwagon. The artwork is a good match for the writing, with its own mixture of bitter and sweet.
It’s hard to describe the breadth of geekiness contained in Erfworld; I’m not even a strategy gamer but it sucked me in. And now, thanks to Robot Comics, it’s available as an app for the iPhone, iPod touch, or Android phone. The first episode is available for free, and later episodes will be available for $.99 each, released one per month. (Book One will be broken into 13 episodes, and the first two are available now.)
And for those of you who have already read Erfworld Book One, Book Two is now well underway on the website.
Wired: The best sort of humor: one that satirizes and embraces its subject matter at the same time. Robot Comics’ app has an easy-to-use interface and allows you to read Erfworld on the go.
Tired: You may not want to wait a month per episode once you start reading.