When I looked at which exhibitors would be boothing up at PAX Prime 2012 I was surprised to see Oni Press listed. Oni Press is an independent comic book publisher, you see.
So, if Dark Horse makes the comics for games like Mass Effect, Zelda, and Dragon Age and Marvel makes actual video games based on their comic titles, why was wee Oni Press present?
Oni Press brought us the Scott Pilgrim title which then brought us the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the Ubisoft-developed side-scrolling beat ‘em up Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. You may recall that video game were a huge part of Scott Pilgrim’s life. The first evil ex, Matthew Patel, that Scott defeats, he defeats via a Dance Dance Revolution–style battle to the death.
Video games not only saved his life they also brought him love. Actually the whole comic is sort of video game styled as Scott levels up and receives extra lives and coins as prizes.
Scott was a well-rounded character with a consistent style and varied interests. The characters in the Scott Pilgrim weren’t stereotypical (outside of Knives Chau being named as she was and her father being a racist ninja, but that was all tongue and cheek in my opinion). They were extremely diverse in what they looked like, what they stood for and how they got where they are now.
Many of Oni Press’ characters fit this description. Mainly because as a brand Oni Press values diversity in people, places, things, and ideas (all nouns are good nouns!).
I recently read a comic mini-series then lent it to a friend and we both had the same reaction: well that was predictable. Panel after panel, page after page I knew what to expect. This was a blockbuster franchise with name-brand creators behind it. And it was boring as shit. Pretty, but just so blah.
The gaming industry would be doing itself a disservice to rest on just names and the stats that follow those names around to determine who’s worthy of inclusion in this niche.
This worthiness is also something the gaming industry has been trying to do away with for some time now. The Penny Arcade and Extra Credits teams have addressed it a few times themselves. PAX had panels dedicated to women, children, and Queers (that sounds so offensive… The panel was called “Queers in Gaming.” Maybe LGBTQ) and making sure there was a deliberate effort to normalize the presence of those who fell outside of gamer stereotypes.
Oni Press achieves and champions this ideal this seamlessly. Just like in the real world, people are who they are, flaws and all. Characters are interesting because they are intriguing, believable depictions of with realistic portrayals of race, gender, and life issues.
Having this influence is vital to the strides the gaming community is trying to make.
And Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was the most wonderful and creative integration of comics and video games ever.